Rabbi Sharon Brous
Of Ikar LA, Responding to Newtown: Time to Take Action on Guns 5774:
Rabbi Shefa Gold
“JACOB LIVED,” the portion begins, and the story reveals a deathbed scene where instead of saying that “Jacob died,” it says he was “gathered into his people”… into us. The blessing that I receive from Vayechi is the knowledge that Jacob still lives within me.
After wrestling with an angel on the banks of the Jabbok, Jacob received a new name. That moment represented a spiritual transformation. “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with beings divine and human and you have prevailed,” said the angel.
Yet, until the very end of the narrative of Genesis, Jacob is called by both names. Even at the moment of death he is referred to as “Jacob”. Jacob’s story tells us something quite profound about the nature of spiritual transformation. And it helps us relate more realistically to our own process of transformation.
LOOKING AT YOUR OWN JACOB, you might find certain qualities that seem to be wired into your personality. You might be a worrier or you might be impatient, argumentative, controlling or manipulative. When you begin to have experiences of expanded consciousness, you are given the name “Israel” and you take on a spiritual practice that proceeds from that new identity. But “Jacob” never really goes away. Through our practice we learn how to manage that worrier, that impatient one, that manipulator. We can learn to have compassion for the fearful source of that voice. After many years of committed practice I realize that the voices of Jacob-within-us may never be entirely silenced, but as the Israel-in-us grows, those Jacob voices lose their power to compel and we are no longer tricked or trapped by their arguments.
When I receive the blessing of the knowledge of where Jacob lives within me, then I can recognize his voice and gently refuse his advice, looking instead to Israel, for wisdom, passion and courage for my journey.
Rabbi Shlomo Katz
Rabbi Jill Hammer, rabbijillhammer.com
May we embody the mystery of Joseph’s bones by becoming partners in creating the future world.