In this week’s Torah portion, Vayishlach, (Gen. 32:4–36:43) Jacob, returning to Canaan after his twenty years in Haran, has an encounter with an unnamed divine being with whom he wrestles until daybreak, and over whom he finally prevails. He reconciles with his brother Esau, a meeting he anticipated with both dread and longing. Still later in the parashah, Jacob’s beloved Rachel dies giving birth to his last son, Benjamin, and only six verses later, we are told that Jacob went to his aged father Isaac at Hebron where, “Isaac was one hundred and eighty years old when he breathed his last and died”, and Jacob and Esau buried their father.
After wrestling with the divine being, Jacob demanded from him a blessing, and received a new name, Israel, “for you have striven with beings divine and human and prevailed”. I believe that we could do far worse than to live life as our ancestor Jacob, who became Israel, lived it. Make mistakes and learn from them. Love and do not be afraid to be hurt by loving too well. Delve deeply and with passion into your relationships with God and with the people around you. As we share Israel’s name, may we also share his legacy.