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The Guttenberg Press: Vayishlach

Rabbi Shaye Guttenberg, Head of School

In our Parsha this week, Yaakov goes through a double name change. The first name change is declared by the mysterious “man” or angel that he battles with.     

וַיֹּ֗אמֶר לֹ֤א יַעֲקֹב֙ יֵאָמֵ֥ר עוֹד֙ שִׁמְךָ֔ כִּ֖י אִם־יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל כִּֽי־שָׂרִ֧יתָ עִם־אֱלֹהִ֛ים וְעִם־אֲנָשִׁ֖ים וַתּוּכָֽל׃

Said he, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with beings divine and human, and have prevailed.” (32:29)

The second name change is declared by G-d Himself.  

וַיֹּֽאמֶר־ל֥וֹ אֱלֹהִ֖ים שִׁמְךָ֣ יַעֲקֹ֑ב לֹֽא־יִקָּרֵא֩ שִׁמְךָ֨ ע֜וֹד יַעֲקֹ֗ב כִּ֤י אִם־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ יִהְיֶ֣ה שְׁמֶ֔ךָ וַיִּקְרָ֥א אֶת־שְׁמ֖וֹ יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

God said to him, “You whose name is Jacob, You shall be called Jacob no more, But Israel shall be your name.” Thus He named him Israel. (35:10)

There are a few people within the Torah who get their name officially changed. 

Questions to Ponder:  

  1. Can you name all the people in the Torah who get their names changed?

  2. Every other person who gets their name changed, the new name is the name that the Torah calls them, except Yaakov. Why didn’t Yaakov’s new name stick?

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom!

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