O holy Shabbes Inspiration Vayishlach
in which Peniel, the face of God, becomes the site of a wrestle,
big-time wrestle of confrontation and transformation.
Jacob the heel becomes Yisrael
the God wrestler
Yakov to Yisrael transformed
with a price —
the limp a sign.
He becomes Israel
no longer will it be said that your name is Jacob but Israel
for you have striven sarita im Elohim
and with anashim – human beings
because you have striven sarita wrestled with God
and with human beings
and have overcome. [Gen.32:29]
The root sin resh heh used only one other time in this form
in the entire Hebrew Bible.
Yisrael hundred of times
but the verb form, this form, is used twice,
here and in Hosea. What gives?
The one who strives wrestles with God?
Why don’t we find it everywhere as a verb?
Jacob the only wrestler with God in the Bible?
I don’t think so.
We are all wrestlers with God
we are all of us
all the time
going to the mat with Hashem.
All of us striving struggling wrestling
so let’s not pay too much attention to that
he is both.
Here’s the question:
Can a person overcome character
the capacity to transform
to change so radically that what formerly defines
now limits, can someone shed old skin acquire a new name
limp away from the confrontation bearing
the mark of transformation in his walk?
He does, Mr. Sometimes Jacob Sometimes Israel —
we do –that’s always the point.
The price for transformation —
your angel or your demon beckons you into the ring
lets you know you won’t be getting out without a good fight.
Al Tira Avdi Yakov we sing on Saturday night
do not be afraid my servant Jacob
what has Jacob to be afraid of?
Later when Esau and Jacob meet again
(I overheard Rashi the poet quoting Rav Shimon)
Esau’s compassion was lifted in a moment
and he kisses Jacob with all his heart [Genesis 33:4]
Mr. Sometimes Jacob Sometimes Israel:
I meet my brother on the road
Can we reconcile?
How will he receive me?
He is strong, I will send him gifts.
I will protect myself with strategy.
Do I hug him
do I slug him?
Do I kiss him
do I hit him?
the moment erupts in love.
I run to him
I kiss him
over my head
a ribbon of light.
Any moment now
the memory that heals.
Holding his foot
as we chuted toward the light,
when we hug
over my head exploding
a ribbon of dots
a ribbon of light.