Your place in G-d’s plan
Vayishlach (And He Sent) B’resheet/Genesis 32:4-36:43
Haftorah Readings: Hosea 11:7-12:12
This week we read of Jacob’s return to Israel and his struggle with an angel (G-d). After this struggle we read where G-d changed his name and gave him a limp that he had for the rest of his life. I want to take a few moments and look at this encounter. What differences do we see in Jacob’s life after this encounter? I want to thank you for your thoughts on my questions each week. It helps me and encourages me as I write and send you teaching each week.
Now on to Jacob’s life changes. Remember, his name prior to this was Jacob, an English translation of his Hebrew name Ya’akov. This name means something like heel grabber. You will remember earlier in scripture when Jacob and Esau were born, Jacob was second in the birth process. However, he was born holding on to Esau’s heel. Even in birth we see him as a person struggling to be first. Even then he wanted to be first and would not let go. Later, when he was banished to Haran to live with Laban he had to fight for everything.
Here in our Torah portion today we see again how he struggled with the angel and refused to give up. (Genesis 32:28). He was driven by this quality that had been a part of his life from birth. However, this struggle and the following verses show another change in his life. We see him planning ahead for his meeting with his brother. He sent gifts ahead to Esau.(Genesis 32:14) He sent them to appease Esau and more importantly, to restore the birthright he had taken from him years before. Jacob also showed humility when he met Esau in bowing down to him seven times calling him, “my lord.”(Genesis 33:14-15)
In all this we see a profound change in Jacob. Remember he had been away for at least twenty years. He left his land of birth frightened. He went to his relative’s house, but again had to rely on his own wits to outsmart Laban and accumulate great wealth.
Now we see a contrite man. We see a man no longer trying to hold on to his childhood desire to be his older brother. We see a man who was finally at peace with being who he was created to be and no longer struggling to be someone else.
As I considered this this week it struck me how often I have wished or desired to be something that G-d did not call me to be. I expect many of us have envied someone who had talents we desired. They might be smarter, more talented or have more riches than we do. Sometime it goes so far as trying to pattern our life after that person. When we lose our way in these struggles we also lose sight of who G-d created us to be. We find ourselves living a life, trying to please people instead of G-d. We find our life spent on things of little value in eternity. We are not at peace with ourselves.
Here, in our portion Israel/Jacob had such a moment when he came face to face with what G-d desired for him. As his life goes on he loses his way sometimes but he seemed to be able to come back to his revelation here in our portion and lives as Israel not Jacob.
My prayer for all of us is that we live the life G-d has for each of us to its fullest. I pray we can live as an Israel, not a Jacob. When we look around at our world, our city or neighborhood there are people that G-d desires to change. Changes come through His people. Each of us have a place in G-d’s plan and our mission in life is to do what we are given to do. We are called to be who He meant for us to be.
Bless each of you this week. I pray we all can be exactly who G-d created us to be.