Jacob, the face of God and a wrestling match


A Shabbes Vort [Word] On Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4 ff.) in which Peniel, the face of God, becomes the site of big-time wrestling, confrontation and transformation.

Jacob — Yakov, from ekev literally heel — who becomes Yisrael, wrestles with God. The name change from Yakov to Yisrael signifies deep change marked by a price — the limp signifying spiritual transformation.

Here’s the question: Can a person overcome character this way? Do we have the capacity to transform so radically that what formerly defined us now limits us? Can we shed old skin acquire a new name, bearing the mark of transformation in our walk?

We do.

That is always the point. Human beings do swap this way. Yet, the price for transformation is this: Your angel or your demon beckons you into the ring, lets you know you won’t be getting out without a good fight.

Rabbi James Stone Goodman of Congregation Neve Shalom prepared this week’s Torah Portion. <b >