And the angel said, you shall henceforth no longer be known as Jacob, but Israel, for you have contended with G-d and with mortals, and have prevailed...
In one of the Bible's more curious incidents, the patriarch Jacob, son of Isaac, is accosted in the night by a stranger, with whom he wrestles until daybreak. Our Sages explain that this stranger was no less than the guardian angel of Jacob's evil twin brother Esau, whom Jacob will soon be facing. The angel (who apparently has a schedule to keep) is forced to concede, and informs Jacob that he is to receive the new name of ישראל (Israel), which can be translated several ways, perhaps most notably as "He who struggles with G-d." It would be this name that Jacob would bestow upon his descendants, the Nation of Israel.
We all struggle with the divine in our own way, albeit less literally than putting an angel in a submission hold. But Jacob teaches us, among other things, the value of tenacity, of never giving up the struggle. He claimed the spiritual inheritence that was his by moral right, if not by order of birth. He clung to the teachings of his fathers, and laid the foundation for the people who would bring monotheistic spiritual values to the rest of mankind.
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