The origin of the name « Israel » is based on some passages of Genesis dedicated to Jacob, which ‘explain’ why he was first named « Jacob », and then how he was renamed « Israel ».
This famous story, commented on throughout the centuries, is briefly recalled by the prophet Hosea, in the following way.
« The LORD will therefore charge against Judah, and will execute judgment on Jacob according to his ways, and will reward him according to his works. From his mother’s womb he supplanted his brother and in his manhood he triumphed over a God. He wrestled with an angel and was victorious, and the angel wept and asked for mercy.»i
The LORD will do justice for Jacob, says Hosea. What has he done? He « supplanted his brother, » he « fought against God, » and he was « victorious, » reducing him to « weeping » and asking for mercy. Let’s look at these points.
Even before he was born, in his mother’s womb, it is written that « Jacob supplanted » his brother.
He was given the name Jacob because he had come out of his mother’s womb holding his brother’s heel. « The first one came out completely red like a coat of hair, and they called him Esau. Then his brother came out, and his hand held Esau’s heel, and he was called Jacob. » ii
In Hebrew the word « Jacob » is taken from the verb עָקַב ‘aqab, « he supplanted », « he deceived », « he defrauded ». « Jacob » seems to be a difficult name to bear, even if its proper meaning can be euphemised by giving it a derived meaning from the Genesis passage: « he who caught (his brother) by the heels », at the moment of his birth.
But Jacob again earned his name by supplanting Esau a second time, by « buying » his birthrightiii, and a third time, by substituting for him to obtain the blessing of his father Isaac on his deathbed.
Jacob is aware of the negative meaning attached to his name, and he is also aware of the significance of his actions. « Perhaps my father will feel me and I will be like a deceiver in his eyes, and I will bring on me the curse and not the blessing, »iv he worries to Rebekah.
Jacob fears being seen as a « deceiver ». Therefore, he does not really consider himself as such, despite appearances and facts. He no doubt thinks he has settled the legal aspect of frauding by acquiring the birthright in exchange for a « red soup ». He also relies on his mother Rebecca who says to him: « I take your curse upon me, my son. Obey me. » v
But these are minor concerns. Jacob ends up taking the fraud personally when his father, blind and dying, asks him, « Who are you, my son? » and he answers, « It is I, Esau, your firstborn. » vi
Isaac blessed him then, but seized by doubt, asked a second time: « Is that you, there, my son Esau? « Jacob answers: « It is I. » vii Then Isaac blessed him a second time, confirming him in his inheritance: « Be the head of your brothers, and let your mother’s sons bow down before you! Cursed be he who curses you, and blessed be he who blesses you! » viii.
Esau comes up in the meantime and asks, « Is it because they named him Jacob that he has already twice supplanted me? He has taken away my birthright and now he has taken away my blessing! » ix
We can see by this that Jacob’s name carried his whole destiny in a nutshell, at least for the first part of his life.
Now let’s see how Jacob changed his name during the night combat scene.
« Jacob was left alone, and a man struggled with him until dawn. » x
Jacob is alone, but a man is with him. How to reconcile this apparent contradiction? Is this « man » just an apparition, a mirage? Or is he an angel? A divine spirit?
I opt for a third track. It could be an inner presence.
But then how can we explain this mad fight against himself?
Night-time delirium? Mystical crisis ? You have to hold on to minute details.
« Seeing that he could not defeat him, he touched his hip and Jacob’s hip dislocated as he struggled with him. » xi
The Hebrew text says that Jacob was struck in the hollow of the « hip »: כַּף-יֶרֶךְ , kaf yérek. But this word can have several meanings. If one adopts the idea that it is a physical, virile struggle, it might be a euphemism for « genitals ». A good punch in these parts can give an advantage.
But if one adopts the interpretation of an inner, mystical struggle, one must find something else. Now, this composed expression can also mean, taken word for word: « the hollow (kaf) of the bottom (yarkah)« , i.e. the « bottom of the bottom », or the « depth ».
If Jacob has engaged in an inner struggle, he has reached the extreme depths of his soul.
At that moment the man, or the angel, (or the depths of the soul?) begs Jacob: « Let me go, for the dawn has come. » Jacob answered, « I will not let you go unless you bless me. » Then he said to him, « What is your name? » He answered, « Jacob ». He said, « Jacob will no longer be your name, but Israel; for you have fought with God and with men and have triumphed. » xii
יִשְׂרָאֵל: כִּי-שָׂרִיתָ עִם-אֱלֹהִים וְעִם-אֲנָשִׁים, וַתּוּכָל.
(Israel: ki-sarita ‘im elohim ve ‘im enoshim va toukhal)
According to this interpretation, « Israel » would therefore mean: « He fought against God », taking as a basis for the word Israel the verb שָׂרָה, sarah, to struggle.
But the « very learned » Philo of Alexandria, commenting on the same passage, is, for his part, of the opinion that the name « Israel » means « seeing God », relying on the verb רָאָה, raah, « to see, to have visions ».
Which interpretation seems the best?
If it was a mystical battle, Philo’s interpretation seems much better.
But for the way forward, we can also refer to Rashi, who does not deal directly with this question here, but addresses it in another way.
Rashi comments on the verse « Jacob shall henceforth no longer be your name, but Israel » as follows: « It will no longer be said that you have obtained these blessings by trickery and supplanting (עקבה, same root as יעקב), but in all dignity and openly. The Holy One, blessed be He, will reveal Himself to you in Bethel, change your name there and bless you. I will be there and confirm them to you. This is what the Prophet Hosea will say: He wrestled with an angel and got the upper hand, he wept and begged him (Hosea 12:5). It was the angel who wept and begged. What did he ask him? In Bethel He will find us and there He will speak to us (ibid.). Give me a delay until He speaks to us there. But Jacob did not want to and the angel had to, in spite of himself, give him confirmation of the blessings. This is what is meant here in verse 30, ‘He blesses him on the spot’. He had begged him to wait, but Jacob refused. »
Rachi relies for this comment on the authority of Hosea. Hosea himself simply quotes Genesis. God appeared again to Jacob when he returned from the land of Aram, to the place that was later to be called Bethel, and blessed him there, saying to him, « Your name is Jacob; but your name henceforth shall not be Jacob any more, but Israel.» xiii
In this new account of Jacob’s change of name in Israel, Rashi gives himself his own interpretation of the meaning of the name Israel : « ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob’. This name refers to a man who is on the lookout to catch someone by surprise ( עקבה ), but you will bear a name that means prince (שׂר) and noble. »
As can be seen, Rashi proposes here a third interpretation of the meaning of the name « Israel ». After the ‘struggle’ (against God), the ‘vision’ (of God), here is the ‘kingship’ (in God?).
Immediately after these events, the story resumes with a new, mysterious episode. « The Lord disappeared from the place where he had spoken to him. Jacob erected a monument in the place where he had spoken to him, a monument of stone.» xiv
Why do I say « a mysterious episode »? Because the great Rashi himself admits about this verse: « I don’t know what this text wants to teach us. »
Let’s take a chance. We read here yet another circumstantial expression of place: « in the place where he had spoken to him ».
In Bethel, God stands « near » Jacob, during his « battle » at the place called Peniel, on the bank of the Jaboc, and that the same time Jacob holds his opponent tightly in a close combat.
This is the first difference of « placement ».
But what is surprising is that God then disappears away « from him » (i.e. moves away from the place « near » Jacob) to go « to the place where he had spoken to him » (bi maqom asher diber itou).
It seems that God disappears, not just « from » but rather « into » the place where He had just spoken.
Let’s elaborate. We must distinguish here between the place where God stood « near » Jacob, – and the « place where God had spoken », which is not a geographical place, but more likely the very soul of Jacob.
What the text teaches us, therefore, is that God disappeared « in » Jacob’s soul, melting into it, blending into it intimately.
After this anticipatory detour by Bethel, let us return to the scene of Penïêl, close to the ford of Jaboc. Jacob has just been named there for the first time « Israel ».
He then wants to know the name of the one who just called him that: « He answered, ‘Why do you ask my name?’ And he blessed him on the spot. » xv
The man, or the angel, blesses Jacob, but does not reveal his name to him. On the other hand, one can infer from the text that he showed his face to him.
Indeed, we read: « Jacob called this place Peniel: ‘Because I saw an angel of God face to face, and my life was saved’. » xvi
Peniel means, word for word, « face of God, » which seems to support the fact that Jacob-Israel did « see » God in his nightly battle.
This is an opportunity to note a kind of inverted symmetry between Jacob’s experience and that of Moses. Jacob « saw » God, but was not given to hear his name. For Moses it was the opposite, God revealed to him one of his names, Eyeh asher Eyeh, « I will be who I will be, » but He did not show him His « face, » only His « back.
What is the most manifest sign of election and grace: seeing the face of God or hearing His name?
Interpretations of this difficult question are legion. I will not discuss them here.
There is another mystery, before which Rashi himself had to admit ignorance: why did God disappear where He had spoken?
Why is the place of His presence now the place of His absence?
One lesson of the text might be that only His ‘word’ may reconcile both His (past) presence and His (present) absence.
iHos 12, 3-5
iiGen 25, 25-26
vGen 27, 13
viGen 27, 19
viiGen 27, 24
viiiGen 27, 29
ixGen 27, 36
xiGen 32, 26
xiiGn 32, 27-29
xiiiGn 35, 10
xivGen 35, 14
xvGn 32, 30
xviGen 32, 31
Contrast Xmas with real Jewish tradition. Jewish Traditions totally alien to Xtians. Proof that Jesus son of Zeus and the religion which he spawned – have no (zero) Jewish roots. Honestly if Xtianity exists as a limb grafted onto the Jewish tree of life. And yet the fruits (by their fruits you shall know them) produced by Xtianity resulted in the systematic slaughter of 75% of European Jewry in less than 4 years. Clearly this grafted branch produces totally different fruits than does the original donor Tree!
מאי חנוכה? What is Hanukkah?
Chag חנוכה celebrates the restoration of avodat HaShem within the Temple. Specifically where the Written Torah functions, so to speak, as the Menorah while the Oral Torah shines as the lights of חנוכה. The name of this Chag comes from חנוך\education. Talmud means learning. The restoration of avodat HaShem, relying solely upon the “lights” of the Oral Torah logic format to interpret the k’vanna of the Written Torah as the definition of avodat HaShem. Education quite often expressed through the logic format of משל\נמשל. The Talmud designates this Chag as the miracle of tohor Hanukkah oil by which the House of Aaron lights the lights of Hanukkah, within the Temple itself.
The Torah centers upon the eternal responsibility to rule the oath sworn land with righteous justice, not offering sacrifices in a Grand Building made of wood and stone which the Goyim can burn down and utterly abolish. What causes the anguish and sorrow of the din of g’lut upon the House of Israel? When our Courts fail to serve HaShem and the People of the brit alliance, by protecting and maintaining the Torah obligation to impose fair compensation for damages; where an Israel damages another Israel’s person, property, or goods. Restoration of the original value and worth of cattle, land, or persons – damaged through either intention or neglect, defines the Torah command: an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
Righteous justice defines the k’vanna, purpose, and intent of Israel leaving Egyptian bondage, redeemed from oppressive slavery to rule the lands of Canaan through Lateral Common Law Courts; whose “diplomacy” shines, whenever Israel disputes with Israel over damages inflicted, and the Sages achieve justice through fair Courtroom decisions. The lighting of the lights of חנוכה dedicates the loyalty of Israel to honor the oath brit acceptance of the Torah at Sinai, specifically not to assimilate to the logic formats, foreign cultures and customs of the ancient Greeks – whose Courts gave but mere lip service to achieve righteous justice, and fair compensation for damages. Based upon the interpretation of the Torah negative commandment, not to follow after the ways of Egypt or Canaan. This Torah Commandment applies to all non Cohen societies logic formats, cultures and/or customs practiced by Goyim Courtrooms – whose Justices never accepted the Torah at Sinai.
The חנוך\education dedicated by this Chag centers upon swearing 3 oath blessings on the 1st day of the Chag, and the 7 remaining days swearing 2 oath blessings. Yaacov swore to Yitzak: at the time when Yitzak blessed Yaacov as his Cohen first-born; Yaacov dedicated unto HaShem that he would command his children to this specific oath blessing avodat HaShem — swearing blessings, a Torah obligation inherited by all – O’lam Ha’bah born generations – born unto the future. Swearing blessings defines avodat HaShem, the k’vanna of dedicating korbanot upon the altar within the Mishkan\Tabernacle, this חנוך teaches the משל\נמשל learning sh’itta\technique.
Swearing blessing resembles, yet differentiates itself from reading praises from Tehillem\Psalms. The Talmud defines “understanding” as the discipline whereby persons develop the skills by which they can discern and distinguish between like and like. Swearing blessings, shares the burden of direct responsibility which swearing oaths – obligates bnai brit allies to keep and maintain peace among their personal relationship together. A man never cut an oath brit of shalom with an enemy. The consequences of swearing oaths, the Gemara of Sanhedrin learns from the false oaths sworn by the generations of Adam in the days of Noach. Tohor Hanukkah oils function as a סוד\concealed kabbala of the interpretation of doing avodat HaShem while in a tohor condition; similar to the tefillen oath brit sworn at Sh’Cem which limits doing avodat HaShem – restricted to tohor spiritual conditions.
The First Commandment of Sinai: I am HaShem who took you out of Egypt. This defining commandment defines all other Torah commandments; does Israel – judged in each and every generation – truly Moshiach themselves (translated as dedicate) to keep and do the Torah לשמה? The Torah and Talmud of the Sages defines avodat HaShem לשמה as the practice of social behavior practiced among and between bnai brit allies. How does a Jew behave toward other Jews? Does the heart within each and every Jew express tohor middot (translated as attributes) or tuma middot in their social interactions with one another?
The Written Torah, at the revelation of the Oral Torah at Horev\Sinai reveals 13 tohor middot. Rabbinic literature, especially in both Talmud Midrashim and Siddur amplifies many other rabbinic tohor middot. Torah observant Jews, they dedicate their life walk before HaShem to express tohor middot in our social interactions within and among our bnai brit allied Cohen nation. The NaCH teaches many stories wherein Israel pursued after their tuma middot that “burned” (think tuma oils) within their hearts. Murder, rape, violence, theft, oppression, slander, betrayal, greed, evil eye etc — all these tuma middot express themselves likewise through social interactions and relationships.
Tuma avoda zara employs as its signature style guilt trip methodologies. Fallen Man needs the messiah to save humanity from original sin. The long history of crude barbarism practiced by European imperialism testifies to the destructive criminal nature of permitting tuma middot; to burn tuma “oils” within the hearts of man kind.
By the terms of a tohor, כרת precondition, the Torah threatens the oath alliance brit wherein HaShem swore – that the seed of the chosen Avram\Cohen would compare to the number of the stars of the Heavens. Avram who at the time of the brit sworn between the pieces – had no living children, not from Sara, the mother of Yitzak, nor from Hagar, the mother of Yishmael.
The mitzva of קידושין\kiddushin (translated as: marriage)/ learns this identical Torah obligation whereby an Israel acquires a wife, based upon the pre-condition that the Baal (translated as husband), obligates himself to educate his future born children to do and heed the נעשה ומשמע Sinai oath responsibility; this most basic of Torah obligations defines the mitzva of קידושין, that a Torah observant Israel has to educate his House. The Torah mitzva of marriage, refers to a woman acquired through קידושין by the elevated term of: בית\house. This term בית, refers to the נמשל of a man who does קידושין with a woman, and thereby actively “acquires” her nefesh O’lam Ha’Bah soul – children born in the future from such a union. Just as women have no Torah obligation to bear children, in like manner the Torah does not obligate women to interpret the Written Torah by learning the Oral Torah, commonly known as the Talmud & Midrashim.
Man has a Torah obligation to produce children. Women have no such Torah obligation. The interpretation of having children: the burden of responsibility to educate – these future born children – to keep the eternal obligation of righteous justice, the Sinai oath brit נעשה ונשמע, wherein Israel accepted the revelation of the Torah at both Sinai and Horev. נעשה – Israel accepts the opening first 2 Commandments of Sinai together with the 611 Commandments commanded by Moshe, who learned the k’vanna of the opening first two Commandments, based upon the revelation of the Oral Torah. And נשמע – that Israel would learn the halachot\rabbinic commandments based upon the exact same Oral Torah logic system which Moshe the prophet interpreted – the 611 Commandments.
The חנוך/learning which Moshe the prophet initiated to learn the Torah revelation at Sinai, the rabbinic sages employ this precise/identical logic wisdom whereby the Talmud sages learn all rabbinic halachot – as codified within the Talmud. The full revelation of the Torah at Sinai and Horev, which the House of Israel originally demanded from Aaron, the Nasi of the Great Sanhedrin, during the disgrace of the Golden Calf.
What marks a Great Sanhedrin from religious codifications of Halacha, like the Rambam’s Yad HaChazakah? The Sages rely upon Oral Torah logic to derive halachot woven together with Prophetic mussar commandments. The framers and final redactors of the Talmud defined the “loom” of Talmud & Midrashim – through its warp/weft halachic\aggadita relationship.
Just as halacha shares a קידושין relationship with aggadita, the union of this בית produced Talmud and Midrashim; aggadita shares a קידושין relationship with prophetic mussar. Observance of ritual halachot, divorced from aggadita, prophet mussar p’shat – as defined through the kabbala of Rabbi Akiva’s פרדס Divine Chariot kabbalah. Contrasted this tohor against the absurd tumah avoda zara mythical virgin birth story – Jesus/Hercules son of Zeus; or the Apostle Paul’s declaration wherein he invalidated the mitzva of circumcision as a Torah commandment. Avoda zara boasts that it has replaced the brit obligation to keep the commandments of Torat Moshe, the sworn oath which Israel obligated all our future born generations through the mitzva of קידושין, to keep and listen, after Moshe descended Horev, the revelation of the Oral Torah.
The mitzva of lighting the Hanukkah Oral Torah lights learns from: ראש השנה ג:ח
והיה, כאשר ירים משה ידו–וגבר ישראל . . . (שמות יז:יא), וכי ידיו של משה עושות מלחמה או ידיו שוברות מלחמה: אלא כל זמן שהיו ישראל מסתכלין כלפי מעלן, ומכוונין את ליבם לאביהם שבשמיים–היו מתגברין; ואם לאו, היו נופלים. כיוצא בדבר אתה אומר “ויאמר ה’ אל משה, עשה לך שרף . . .” (במדבר כא:ח), וכי הנחש ממית ומחיה: אלא כל זמן שישראל מסתכלין כלפי מעלן, ומשעבדין את ליבם לאביהם שבשמיים–היו מתרפאין; ואם לאו, היו נימוקים. חירש שוטה וקטן, אין מוציאין את הרבים ידי חובתן. זה הכלל–כל שאינו חייב בדבר,
אינו מוציא את הרבים ידי חובתן.
Upon the recapture of the Temple from the Syrian Greeks and assimilated Tzeddukim Cohonim, the sages found only enough “tohor oil” to light the menorah lights for one day. The Talmud teaches through a משל\נמשל learning technique. The נמשל of tohor Hanukkah oil, the Oral Torah. The “oil” of the Oral Torah caused the menorah of the Written Torah to burn all 8 days of the Chag. Just as the raised hand of Moshe did not fight the war with Amelek, so too the Sages forbade to use the lights of Hanukkah for any purpose other than the menorah light itself.
Prohibits declaring a public fast day on the new month, on Hanukkah and on Purim. This ruling compares to ראש השנה ג:ח. It serves to separate and sanctify the k’vanna of the Yom Tov. The Mishna compares Hanukkah to the Yom Tov of Sukkot. As a person swears blessings over the 4 species all 7 days of that Chag, so too Hanukkah. Likewise the Gemara of Shabbot, which juxtaposes lighting the lights of Hanukkah to the oils permitted to light the Shabbat lights. Just as Shabbat candles separate and sanctify Shabbot – so too the lights of Hanukkah elevates this rabbinic mitzva unto a positive time oriented commandment from the Torah. Positive time oriented commandments from the Torah require k’vanna.
Chag Hanukkah stands upon the יסוד kabbalah of מעשה בראשית. The ger tzeddek who emerges from the tohor waters of the mikveh, that person lives as a “new creation”. The morning da’avening opens with פסוקי דזמרה which learns from saying the הלל on the Yom Tov. Both this and that base themselves from the precedent established by the joy remembered and felt by our people, when we left the bondage of Egyptian slavery. The switch from slave to free person, from this great event – the Torah learns gere tzeddik\persons who convert and become Jews. The kabbalah of מעשה בראשית has the k’vanna to arouse the Will to do avodat HaShem with tremendous joy.
Both on Hanukkah and Purim, Jews sing songs and give gifts to one another. Accomplishment of avodat HaShem, feeling depths of joy, this strong precedent serves to define the purpose and k’vanna of saying the פסוקי דזמרה prior to accepting the yoke of the kingdom as expressed through the דאורייתא mitzva of kre’a shma. All Torah mitzvot serve to define the k’vanna of acceptance of the 1st two Commandment revelations at Sinai, which the kre’a shma concludes with ONE.
The mitzva to love HaShem, the k’vanna of kre’a shma, as defined through the repeated acceptance of the yoke of blessings\geulah and curses\g’lut of the Torah oath brit – include under this “Tabernacle Tent”, all the commandments, mitzvot, and halachot as ONE commandment. The whole of the Torah and Talmud function as ONE positive time oriented Commandment wherein Israel worships avodat HaShem לשמה. Herein defines how Israel obeys the first Commandment of Sinai, and its דאורייתא relationship to both Chag Hanukkah and Purim and lighting Shabbot candles.
חנוכה Third Day.
The Torah has 5 Books. בראשית, the Book of stories. The Shas Bavli replicates in resemblance the ratio of 4:1 weaving within the loom of פרדס halachah:aggaditah. The Gra taught that בראשית contains the whole of the Torah. Did he refer to Parshat בראשית or the Book of בראשית? The word בראשית holds a רמז gematria – words within words. ראש בית, ב’ ראשית, ברית אש. The Book בראשית resembles the sh’itta of stories within the Aggaditah. דרוש ופשט sanctify through קידושין, translated as marriage, the דרוש mussar of NaCH sanctified to the פשט stories told through aggaditah. This mussar פשט of the Aggaditah defines the k’vanna of all halachot learned within any given Mishna.
This sh’itta of חנוך\education serves as the root of חנוכה; the expression of Rabbi Akiva’s פרדס kabbala. The warp and weft of the loom, פרדס ומעשה בראשית.
This 2nd ancient kabbala serves as the יסוד by which the Prophets taught tefilla as organized by the swear oath blessings within the Shemone Esrei. This warp\weft kabbalot, whereas פרדס gives k’vanna to all the halachot within the Shas, מעשה בראשית takes the expression as joy. Joy learned from slaves becoming free men. The kabbalah “take” of מעשה בראשית, compares to birth of the first born Cohen child. Wow such Joy.
Women enjoy a double portion, they did not participate in the disgrace of the Golden Calf. Women have positive and negative commandments.
Rabbi Yechuda HaNasi teaches positive time oriented Commandments only an Torah obligation upon Men. The classic Reshon and even the B’hag’s organization of the 613 Commandments organized to include only positive and negative commandments. The Rambam’s Book of Commandments too lists Positive and negative commandments.
Both the B’hag and the Rambam include tefilla as part of the תרי”ג commandments. Tefilla requires, as do all positive time oriented commandments – k’vanna.
The warp\weft loom of פרדס opposed by מעשה בראשית weave a garment of k’vanna that through פרדס the דרוש of prophetic mussar through לשמה – טהור מידדות דאורייתא ודרבנן as the פשט k’vanna of the aggaditah. The study of tohor middot affixes a middah to a specific Parshah.
The Shemone Esrei has 13 swear blessings as the revelation of the Oral Torah logic sh’iita has 13 tohor middot דאורייתא. This loom with its contrasting warp and weft kabbalah threads produces a tallit of “tzitzits” – remember all the commandments includes actively remembering the prophetic mussar commandments affixed by רמז וסוד to all the precedential (Jewish common law stands upon precedents) halachot employed by the sages within the Talmud, that these halachic precedents – they define the parameters to understand the intent of Rabbi Yechuda’s Mishna, on par with how the Prophetic mussar defines the substance of k’vanna which elevates all the halachot unto the sanctity of positive time oriented commandments from the Torah, which Talmudic scholars can affix all these halachot – together with their prophetic mussar k’vannot, as the intent and definition of the blessings within the Shemone Esrei.