An early taste
Ordination regardless of orientation!

This week's portion: Jacob and Israel

In this week's portion, Vayishlach, we read about Jacob's famous all-night wrestle with a messenger of God, and the new name which Jacob is granted at the end of the night. Henceforth, the stranger tells him, he will be known as Israel -- he who wrestles with God.

That's the starting-point for my d'var at Radical Torah this week, which dips into the teachings of Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev in order to ask some questions about Jacob's injury, Jacob's wrestle, and what it means that Jacob comes away with a pair of names instead of just one:

Jacob's wound arises out of his engagement with the world, with this mysterious stranger, with the presence of God. Like Jacob, we too may find that the experiences where we find God, our engaged periods of wrestling with reality, leave us scarred and limping. The only way to avoid injury altogether is to avoid the world, and that kind of disengagement is not the path Judaism valorizes. Jacob received the blessing of the new name because he was willing to struggle; because he was present to the moment, even though that moment hurt.

Read the whole thing here: Beyond binaries: Jacob and Israel.

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