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Parshat Vayishlach

When we think of a spiritual existence what image comes to mind? One might think of a calm serene setting, a sunset perhaps, or sitting among the trees in an environment that allows us to experience a divine state. This week’s Torah portion teaches us the exact opposite. Yaakov avinu, one of our patriarchs, a person that was directly connected to God in his own merit and that of his parents and grandparents, has one of the most difficult lives in the Torah. His struggles begin even before his birth when he and his brother are fighting in the womb. As he flees from his brother Esav in this week’s reading, he encounters a ‘man’ and wrestles with him all night long. Our sages teach us that this was no ordinary man and was in fact an Angel. When the Angel sees that he cannot overtake Yaakov, he tries to flee at sunrise, but Yaakov demands a blessing before releasing him. The Angel then blesses Yaakov with a new name, the name Yisrael. One of the meanings of Yisra-El, is to struggle with God. To truly have a spiritual connection requires wrestling with our own faith. Faith doesn’t exist without doubt and the two are in constant battle. It is through this conflict that our connection to ourselves and to God can become even greater, just like Yaakov.

Shabbat Shalom

Cantor Adam Stotland

Thu, 8 December 2022 14 Kislev 5783