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, he 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.