VaYishlach (5764)

Drash Cards for VaYishlach 

by Marc Mangel

• Today I want to discuss the renaming of Jacob.

• Here’s the setting: he is alone on the East Bank of the Jabbok (Ch 32, v 25). The Chazal emphasize the symbolism of Jacob being alone  — Jews have always and will always be alone in wrestling with evil.

• The name change is in Ch 32, v 25-30 when he wrestles with the man/angel.  The Torah is silent on why here and why now. Rambam says that this is a prophetic vision with a real “dream” with a real injury.  Abarbanel and Gersonides agree.

• Ramban disagrees.  Nehama L. is vehement about those rationalizing a non-rational experience.

• There is plenty of orthodox interpretation of this event as a great psychic battle.  R. Joseph Ozarowski (Modern Orthodox) says “Perhaps the Torah is attempting to teach us that to find the ultimate source of blessing we have to look deep within ourselves. We have to find our inner strengths and weaknesses before we face the dawn of an unknown day.”

• But why two renamings — also in Ch 35, v 9-10.  No reason is given.

• The inner battle must always go on.  Avram going to Avraham was complete.

• Jacob to Israel is never complete.  He is continually wrestling with his younger self/his mature selvf, spiritual aspects of life/material aspects of life.  Lucky for us we have this role model of continual struggle.