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Vayishlach: 29 And he said: 'Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel

Posted on November 19, 2018 at 9:40 AM

Jacob Wrestled "vaye'oveq" with a Man "Angel"


What is thy name? - Torah Portion Vayishlach: Genesis "Bereshit" 32:4 - 36:43


Vayishlach: 29 And he said: 'Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for thou hast striven with God and with men, and hast prevailed.'


What Does It Mean To Wrestle With YHWH And Prevail?


"...the Holy One, blessed be He, will raise them up and bring them out of captivity..." Israel's light...will come little by little, until they will become strong. YHWH will illumine them forever...YHWH will first shed on them a streak of light like that of the day - break which is still black, then increase it to make it "fair as the moon," then "clear as the sun," until it will be "tremendous as an army with banners,...Thy name shall be called no more Jacob (Ya'aqob = supplanter), but Israel (Yisrael = priesthood and strength), so that no one can prevail against thee."


Until the breaking of the day; this being the moment when his dominion passed away and vanished.  The same will happen in the time to come.  For the present exile is like the night, and in that night the barren dust rules over Israel, who are prostrate to the dust; and so it will be until the light will appear and the day will break; then Israel will obtain power and to them will be given the kingdom, as they are the saints of the Most High.  So, Scripture says:  "And the kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of the kindgoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them." (Dan. VII, 27)


27 And he said: 'Let me go, for the day breaketh.' And he said: 'I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.'  Why did the Man "Angel" say:  'Let me go, for the day breaketh.' 


Let me go, because I must join the heavenly court in performing The Kedushah - Sanctifying YHWH's name:


In the repetition of the Amidah (Standing Prayer) of Shachrit and Minchah (and on Shabbat and Holidays, of Mussaf), we stand to say a special prayer called Kedushah (Sanctification) in which we not only declare that YHWH is infinitely kadosh (transcendent, beyond anything in creation), but we actually temporarily give up our individuality (our ego) in order to merge into His Infinite Oneness.  We say, as the angels say:


Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh Adonai Tz'vaot M'lo Khol Ha'aretz K'vodo

"Holy, Holy, Holy, The Lord of Hosts, The entire world is filled with His Glory." Isaiah 6:3

Baruch K'vod Adonai Mim'komo

"Blessed is the Glory of the Lord in Its Place" Ezekiel 3:12

Yimloch Adonai L'Olam, Elohayich Tziyon L'dor Vador Hall'luyah

"The Lord shall reign forever, Your God, O Zion, from generation to generation, Hallelujah" Psalms 146:10



“Kadosh (beyond time), kadosh (beyond space), kadosh (beyond the conception of even the highest celestial beings) is YHWH, [nothing can withstand the full revelation of His Ein Sof light; nevertheless] He is the YHWH of all the hosts [of heaven and earth, and] the whole world is filled with His glory [i.e., a measured ray of His Ein Sof light]” (Isaiah 6:3).


Isaiah begins here by emphasizing YHWH’s transcendence above and beyond anything in creation. As in the above translation (which is based on the ancient Targum Yonathan), it is as if he is saying, “YHWH is beyond time, beyond space, and beyond the conception of even the highest celestial beings.” The continuation of the verse, “the whole world is filled with His glory” or “the fullness of the entire world is His glory,” emphasizes the flip side of the coin: Although YHWH Himself is beyond all categories of creation, nevertheless, His kavod (glory, i.e., the radiance of His essence light) fills the entire world.  Only after we understand that YHWH is infinite Ein Sof, and therefore infinitely other, does He tell us, “Do I not fill/permeate heaven and earth!” (Jeremiah 23:24), and “the whole world is filled with His glory” (Isaiah 6:3). Only when we understand that “YHWH is totally and completely other” can we then say, “There is nothing else but YHWH.” Again, the paradox is that only by setting YHWH apart from us can we really begin to know how very close He is.


There is little we can say about infinite Ein Sof except that IT IS. It is not subject to change. It is the source and ground of existence, the Creator of the step-down system of universes that allows for the existence of an other. It itself is above and beyond the system even as it fills and permeates it.  Only when these two—the infinite light of Ein Sof that transcends creation and the immanent aspect of the light that permeates creation—are seen together as constituting one inseparable unity do we begin to grasp the ultimate paradoxical truth. In other words, we begin to understand that we—and the step-down system of universes that YHWH created in order to give us separate existence—do and do not exist apart from Ein Sof.  We live in a paradox. YHWH is utterly other, but extremely close. It is not one or the other.


Indeed it is only because He is utterly other that is He utterly close. As paradoxical as it sounds, His other-ness actually insures that there is nothing between Him and us. He doesn’t simply “exist.” He is the ground of all existence. Precisely because He is kadosh—separate, apart, beyond, other, unlike anything He created, without form, perfectly one—He is not only with us in our existential aloneness but we actually exist in Him. His light not only fills/permeates existence but it also fills/permeates us as well. There is no separation.


Israel - In order to really get this, we don’t just talk about it, we do it. We actually enact a drama. The Beit Knesset (Synagogue) transforms into the Heavenly Temple in which awesome angelic beings surround the Throne of Glory. And we are there too. We thus stand with our feet placed side by side as if they are one single foot. We do this because the angels above are said to have one foot. 


What does it mean that angels are said to have one foot? Relative to us humans, angels do not have free will—certainly free will as we know it, which is the ability to go against YHWH’s will. In the spiritual dimension, YHWH’s presence is experienced directly. Because of its close proximity to this presence, this light, an angel is so connected to YHWH that it does not feel its own existence as apart from YHWH. In our morning prayers, we praise YHWH saying:  You alone are YHWH! You made the heavens, the heavens of the heavens, and all their hosts; the earth and everything upon it; the seas and all they contain. You give [existence and] life to them all. The heavenly hosts therefore bow down [acknowledge and nullify themselves] before You” (Nechemiah 9:6).


Bowing down to YHWH has two aspects: First, when we bow, we place ourselves in a position of self-effacement or nullification in relation to the One above. It is only thus that we can receive the blessing that He wishes to bestow upon us. It is like having to have an empty glass in order to receive some more water to drink. If the glass is already full—if a person is filled with his own sense of importance—there is no room left to receive; if he is incapable of recognizing his own lacks, there is no possibility of fixing them and growing. We therefore bow down in complete and joyous surrender to the one above. In this way we show that we are aware that our very life depends upon our connection to the source of existence. Second, our bowing signifies the act of bestowing to that which is below us. By bowing before YHWH, we show that we wish to become like Him, givers who receive only in order to give.


When angels bow, these two motions are going on simultaneously. The angels of each dimension bow to the level immediately above them in order to receive their portion of the life-force and blessing that flows in step-down fashion from the Source. And they bow to the level immediately below them in order to transmit the exact measure of life-force and blessing that those lower levels need to exist and flourish. Bowing thus embodies the idea of “receiving in order to give”—the idea of chesed (lovingkindness) that lies at the foundation of creation, as the verse says, “He (YHWH) has built the world [in such a way that it is completely based] on chesed” (Psalm 89:3).


According to this, angels are constantly recognizing and appreciating the fact that YHWH is the Source of Life and Existence. This is why angels are said to always be praising YHWH. This is also the meaning of having one foot.


We humans, on the other hand, have two legs that branch off from our body and culminate in two feet. Unlike the spiritual dimension in which YHWH’s Oneness is directly experienced, this physical world is a world of two-ness. Two-ness embodies the idea that this world is a world of free will and free choice. When, however, we stand in Kedushah like the angels, to praise YHWH, we give up that free choice in deference to His will. We join and align our will with His ultimate will. We have no problem doing this because we realize that His will (what He wants) includes and encompasses our will (everything and anything that we could ever want).


Elevation During Kedushah


In addition to placing our feet together during Kedushah, we also lift our heels up, higher each time, when we say the first three words of Isaiah 6:3, “kadosh, kadosh, kadosh,” and then once more for each of the following two verses (Ezekiel 3:12 and Psalm 146:10).  This is paradoxical, because the trope signs accompanying these words indicate that the first kadosh is highest, while the second and third represent a descent (or spreading downward) of YHWH’s light into the world in diminishing degrees of intensity. 


If this is true of the first kadosh relative to the two that follow it, it is even truer regarding the verses from Ezekiel and Psalms. It is known that Isaiah’s level of prophecy was much higher than Ezekiel’s. It is also known that that the Psalms are considered Ruach HaKodesh (Divine Inspiration), which is a lower level than the Neviim (the Prophetic books of the Bible).


Why do we raise ourselves up higher on our heels each subsequent time we say kadosh, if the first kadosh is higher, and the ones following it are lower? The answer: Because YHWH is utterly kadosh kadosh kadosh (beyond, beyond, beyond), He is utterly close.


Nakdishakh venaaritzakh—we will sanctify You [i.e., recognize Your transcendent holiness] and praise You with the same sweet words with which the assembly of the holy seraphim proclaim Your three-fold holiness. It is thus written by the hand of Your prophet:  They call to one another saying: “Kadosh kadosh kadosh Hashem tzevaot melo kol haaretz kevodo—holy, holy, holy is YHWH, the God of all the hosts [of heaven and earth], the fullness of the whole world is a revelation of His glory.”


[Now, with great commotion, the holy ophanim and chayot raise themselves up towards the seraphim.]  Facing them, they praise [YHWH] saying: “Barukh kevod YHWH mimekomo—may YHWH’s glory be blessed [and increasingly revealed and drawn forth] from its hidden transcendent place.” And in the words of Your sacred scriptures, it is written to proclaim: “Yimlokh Hashem le’olam Elohayikh tziyon ledor vador hallelu Yah—may YHWH’s absolute sovereignty be revealed [in this world and] for all eternity! O Tziyon, your YHWH, for endless generations, hallelu Yah!”


First we say, Kadosh kadosh kadosh—holy, holy, holy is YHWH, the YHWH of hosts, the whole world is filled with His glory, or the fullness of the whole world is a revelation of His glory! Although YHWH Himself is holy and completely transcendent beyond anything we can know or imagine, still, His glory, which is the light of His providence, not only fills the entire world, but is the very essence of which the world is made. Why then do we immediately say, “Barukh kevod YHWH mimekomo—may YHWH’s glory be blessed [and increasingly revealed and drawn forth] from its hidden transcendent place”? 


Because even after we draw YHWH’s transcendent light down into the universe, and it becomes immanent—or it becomes apparent that an aspect of it has always been immanent—it is still hidden. It is then our task to bring it forth from a state of hidden potential into open revelation. In order to do this, we say, “Barukh kevod YHWH mimekomo.”


What comes next? Yimlokh—may YHWH’s absolute sovereignty be revealed. What does yimlokh add that barukh hasn’t already said? What could be greater than the total revelation of barukh? One possible answer: Barukh brings YHWH’s glory, the revelation of His providence, into our hearts. It expands our consciousness to the point of feeling and perceiving YHWH everywhere in our lives. It fills us with incredible joy, love, and gratitude to YHWH, the source of all existence. But even this is not enough. We will not be completely satisfied until the light of that revelation illuminates every dark corner of creation, until the entire world is transformed by the revelation of YHWH’s glory. This is the reason we say yimlokh.


Kedushah of Mussaf


Keter (crown) is given to You, YHWH our YHWH, by the multitudes of angels above, and by Your people Israel assembled below. Together, all proclaim Your three-fold holiness.  And thus it is written by the hand of Your prophet: They call to one another and say:


“Holy, holy, holy is YHWH, the YHWH of all the hosts [of heaven and earth], the fullness of the whole world is His glory.” [Although] His glory fills the world, His ministering angels ask one another, “Where is the hidden place of His glory so that we may praise Him?” [Now, with great commotion, the holy ophanim and chayot raise themselves up towards the seraphim.] Facing them, they praise [YHWH] and say, “May YHWH’s glory be blessed [drawn down and increasingly revealed] from its hidden transcendent place.” From His place He turns compassionately to His people who constantly proclaim the unity of His name, evening and morning, twice each day, they say the Shma with fervent love: “Hear O Israel, YHWH is our YHWH, YHWH is ONE.” He is our YHWH, He is our Father, He is our King, and He is our Deliverer. He will therefore surely deliver us and redeem us again. In His mercy He will speak to us again, [but this time] in the presence of all that is alive, saying, “Behold, I have redeemed you from this final exile as from the first, to be your YHWH. I am YHWH your YHWH.” And in Your sacred writings, [David] wrote to proclaim, “May YHWH’s absolute sovereignty be revealed [in this world and] for all eternity. O Tziyon, your YHWH, for endless generations, hallelu Yah.”


In the Talmud the distinction is made between the people of Israel and the angels. The people of Israel say YHWH’s name after only two words (Shma Yisrael YHWH), as opposed to the angels who say three words first (Kadosh kadosh kadosh YHWH).

In Kedushah d’Sidra (Uba l’Tziyon), Targum Yonathan translates “Holy, holy, holy” as: “Holy in the highest supernal heavens...holy upon the earth...holy in all the universes and throughout endless time.” These three prepositions (in, upon, and throughout) imply that, to varying degrees of intensity, YHWH’s kedushah (holiness) is already immanent in and fills every aspect of creation mentioned. Even while permeating creation, however, His holiness is necessarily hidden, as above.

As indicated by the Ari, the Rashash, and the Tzamech Tzedek, the word kadosh, like many other key words in the tefillah (prayer), moves both “up” and “down.” The higher we go, YHWH is more kadosh and nivdal (transcendent, infinitely hidden), and yet, the more we descend, this very kedushah infuses all of creation. When kadosh is in close proximity to barukh, it still moves in both directions, but the nivdal aspect is dominant. This explains why:

“kadosh kadosh kadosh melo kol haaretz kevodo” is followed by “barukh kevod YHWH mimekomo” in Kedushah. Even after we realize that His kavod (radiant glory) is immanent in and permeates all reality, it is still kadosh (concealed). We therefore need barukh to draw that hidden presence into greater and greater (more and more) revelation.


27 And he said: 'Let me go, for the day breaketh.' And he said: 'I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.'


The Torah uses the names Jacob and Israel interchangeably. The name Yaakov applies to the physical part of Yaakov’s personality, matters connected to his terrestrial existence, whereas the name Israel refers to spiritual aspects of his personality, matters connected to his eternal existence in celestial regions.”


Might the use of 'Jacob' or 'Israel' reflect different historical sources or intentions? The blessing of YHWH's covenant came to Israel, and not to the people from Esau. It was better that Jacob's descendants, those who came after him, should have the blessing, than that Esau's people should have it; for Jacob's people worshiped YHWH, and Esau's people walked in the way of the idols, and became wicked.  Therefore, it is incumbent on Israelites to attach YHWH's blessing through the name "Israel" because Jacob "Israel" was the consummation of the patriachs, who was selected as the choicest portion of the Almighty, and was brought specifically near to Him and was perfected above and below.  29 And he said: 'Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for thou hast striven with God and with men, and hast prevailed.'




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