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Portion of Parsha- Vayishlach
In this week's parsha we see Jacob afraid and distressed as soon as he realizes that he will encounter his brother Esav. The commentators note that it would seem obvious that if he was afraid, he would be distressed and vice versa. Rashi points out that Jacob was very afraid lest he be killed. and he was distressed lest he kill his brother . He physically feared death but what he feared morally was that he might be forced to kill his brother and any people part of Esav's entourage. Right here we see a conundrum that continually engages us in our world. How do we balance our morality with realpolitik? How can we defend ourselves but not lose sight of the human cost for doing so? In the words of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, there are times when a good human being, even if he or she does the right thing, will still experience not remorse but regret. He or she will still suffer pangs of conscience even though it is justified in what needs to be done. That was the scenario that Yaakov faced. When the man he wrestles with asks him who he is, Jacob needs to turn inward and ask himself, what kind of name have I made for myself? Who am I? The rabbis note that the name that Jacob receives - Yisrael - is an acronym for so many of the trials and tribulations he will experience across his lifetime-Yosef, Shechem, Rachel, Edom for Esav, and Lavan. Yaakov spent not one night but a lifetime wrestling with problems and challenges and confrontations. But in this week's parsha he asks for blessing and in essence the blessing that he gets is his new name. The blessing is that he has the possibility of transforming himself into something greater as he confronts challenges and begins life anew. We as Bnai Yisrael have that capacity as well to grow each day. As we confront our daily stresses, hopefully we can face each day with a new outlook, a new hope and like Jacob, the power to overcome our challenges.
Rabbanit Adena Berkowitz

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