We need a Kiddush Hashem, a sanctification of God’s name, so big it will be a giant burst of light in this dark world.
And we are going to get it.
Why is it that our father Jacob had to buy what was coming to him – his right to the inheritance of Abraham and Isaac – from his brother Esau? Why did he have to “trick” his father Isaac into giving him the blessing? (I discuss this subject at length in Chapter Two of my book Worldstorm.)
This is so profound. We Jews have a concept called ma’ase avos siman l’banim – the actions of the fathers are a sign for the children. The actions of our fathers in the Torah are an indication of what will happen to us, their children, in future generations. What is happening to us now, in the year 5769, was foretold by what happened to our forefathers in the Torah.
As mentioned, our father Jacob had to acquire his most precious possession, the holy tradition of serving God and receiving the Torah on behalf of all mankind by apparent treachery. Why?
This is a sign for us, his children, that our Exile will be characterized by the mockery of the nations of the world. They are going to label us thieves, criminals, phonies, hypocrites, cheaters, liars, amoral, immoral, promiscuous – in short, every characterization that in truth belongs to them. But it is all predicted in the Torah. Jacob is going to be characterized as a thief and a cheater.
When Esau heard from Isaac that Jacob had received the blessings, “he cried an exceedingly great and bitter cry.” He said, “He outwitted me these two times.… He took away my birthright, and see now, he took away my blessing” (Genesis 27:34ff).
Oh no, Esau, he did not “outwit” you.
He did not take away “your” birthright.
He did not take away “your” blessing.
They were never yours – you neither desired nor valued them.
But now that you have publicly disdained the secret of life, you are jealous because Jacob possesses it. So you characterize Jacob as a thief. You march through history proclaiming his treachery. You claim to be pious and accuse us of lying and stealing.
You point the finger at us.
You see a scandal in the Midwest? You point with pompous self-righteousness in your highly respected newspapers at the perfidy of the Jew.
You see a scandal on Wall Street? You point with pompous self-righteousness at the hypocrisy of the Children of Jacob.
Even the missile-flinging terrorists in Iran point the finger at us.
When the Romans invaded and destroyed our holy Temple some two thousand years ago, they pointed at the image of the kruvim (Cherubim) and said in their moment of apparent triumph, “See they are idolaters just like us! The Jews are no better than we are!”
Oh no, children of Esau and children of Ishmael. Do not point the finger at us! For the Torah tells us that the name of Jacob is changed: “No longer will it be said that your name is Jacob, but Israel. For you have striven with the Divine and with man and you have overcome.”
Yes, we are flesh and blood. Yes, we are human. Yes, we have faults. We have failings, and they are perfectly clear on every page of the Torah for all to see. We don’t hide our failings – from ourselves, from others or from God. In fact, we make a special point of bringing them all out into the sunlight in order to heal ourselves.
God has seen our passionate zeal to open our hearts to His Torah so that our souls may serve Him and pursue His commandments, and has changed our name from Jacob to Israel. If we exert ourselves with all our strength, if our “Jacob” nature fights with constant devotion, then we become Israel, the Prince of God, the man who is the father of the holy nation of Israel.
Yes, that is our responsibility today: to become Israel, to wrestle with and defeat the angel who represents the characteristics of the nations surrounding us, to battle our own failings, our own selfishness, our own narrowness, our own infatuation with the material cravings that threaten to drag us into the ground.