03 Dec Wrestling with people and God
For 91 years, Jacob struggled with people, tricking them, struggling to be on top. Somehow, a night encounter changed him.
On his way to seeing his brother Esau after 20 years, and scared that Esau still wants to kill him (Esau is, after all, accompanied by 400 armed men), Jacob spends the night wrestling with an angel. At the end, the angel renames him Israel.
Jacob means “heel” or “trickster.” Up until now, he struggled with Esau from the womb (remember him grabbing Esau’s heel as Esau made it out first). He tricked his father for the blessing, by dressing as his brother. For the past 20 years, his uncle Laban tricked him, until he ran away while Laban was away; on his way out, he stole the household idols.
But now, wrestling the angel, he is transformed into Israel. As Israel, he calls the place “peniel,” meaning “face of God.” He has seen the face of God. Israel is capable of seeing the face of God.
When he sees Esau, Israel says “seeing your face is like seeing the face of god.” (Gen 33:10) No longer wrestling, Israel is able to see face of God in his brother.
May we shift from wrestling with others to seeing the face of God in them.
Shabbat Discussion — Saturday morning at 10
This Saturday at 10 please join us for for a Torah study and musical service.
Parallel childrens program (also outdoors & distanced) led by Tanya.
Kiddush celebrating Deborah Letow’s birthday.
Outdoors & socially distanced.
In the event of rain, event will be postponed to the following week.
Our discussion will be about “Jacob wrestling with faith.” We dont think of faith as a Jewish thing. Christians made it their calling card, leading us often to jettison the concept. In fact, Judaism does have a concept of faith; my shul growing up was Anshei Emunah (“men of faith”). As I’ve gotten older, I have realized the bigger question for me is not “do we believe in God” but “what do we believe about God.”
I look forward to seeing you!
Hebrew School Difference #3: It’s not about the Bar/Bat Mitzvah
At Kol HaLev, we do incredibly creative, individualized Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. We teach prayers and Torah reading (if families want). Children can lead a Shabbat service, or they can lead a roleplay or tell us about a mitzvah project. But our school is not about the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
As a pulpit rabbi, I have witnessed firsthand the result of Bar/Bat Mitzvah focused education: most of the kids dislike Judaism, dislike Jewish prayer, and have no sense of any deeper meaning of Torah or Judaism.
Kol HaLev is different. Our classes are about Torah, Mitzvot, Jewish spirituality, and Jewish life. Our classes are about preparing children for a life of passionate Jewish involvement, by developing Jewish heads, Jewish hearts, and Jewish hands.
more next week…
2 Ways to Help Kol HaLev
If you believe (as I do) that Judaism will only survive if we create meaningful, joyous models of observance and learning, then please help our work with a contribution to our year end campaign. If you have already contributed, thank you so much for your support!
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