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From The Rabbi – Parshat Vayishlach 5782

Have you ever wondered where the name Israel comes from? It has its origins in the Torah portion of this week, during a mysterious meeting between Yaakov (Jacob) and a ‘man’ with whom he wrestled through the night.

There are many commentaries and discussions about this unusual story and the enigmatic ‘man’ who, when requested by Yaakov for a blessing, he bestows upon Yaakov the name Yisrael – ‘Ísrael’, “because you have fought with (an Angel of) G-d and with Man and you have prevailed over them”, representing the ability to overcome adversity.

As opposed to the name Yaakov, meaning heal, he was now named Yisrael, which contains the letters of the Hebrew word Rosh, meaning ‘head’, symbolizing leadership and control of one’s emotions. It is interesting to note that, although the name was changed to Yisrael, and the Jewish people subsequently became known as Bnei Yisrael – the children of Israel, the name Yaakov – Jacob is till used in reference to instances when Jacob or the Jewish people are experiencing adversity, or when they are engaged in the more mundane or challenging aspects of life.

The book of Bereshit – Genesis, in general, contains many foundational concepts of Jewish philosophy and life, and the stories of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs in particular serve as guiding lights and ‘sign posts’ for us all for the manner in which we conduct our lives and deal with our families, communities and the outside world.

As we discussed at great length at our recent course on Outsmarting Antisemitism, the story of Yaakov’s re-engagement with his hostile brother, serves as a paradigm in dealing with

Shabbat Shalom, and may we share good health and good news

Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

From The Rabbi – Parshat Vayeitzei 5782

As these words are being typed, we pause for a moment of reflection and prayer in remembrance of all those who paid the supreme sacrifice, along with all who fought for the freedoms which we all enjoy and cherish. May their memory be a blessing.

As the many members and friends who attended the Heritage Tour of the Brisbane Synagogue, last Sunday, were being enthralled in our beautiful Synagogue sanctuary about the rich and fascinating history of our Congregation and Synagogue, the sweet sound of our Cheder children, praying, singing and learning could be heard from up above our Memorial Hall. This represents the beauty and preciousness of Jewish continuity, as we honour and value our long and distinguished history, while at the same time, we keep our eyes, hearts and minds firmly on an optimistic vision for the future, strengthening the precious  links in our golden chain of Jewish history, through the vibrant participation and enthusiasm of our young children.

This week, we relate the story in the Torah, of the lonely and frightened Yaakov (Jacob), who flees from his murderous brother Esau, to a foreign and hostile land in which he is confronted by many challenges. With faith and fortitude Yaakov  perseveres, marries and builds a large family, thus begin the foundations of the Jewish people, the twelve tribes of Israel.

We, the Jewish nation, are referred to as the children of Israel, which was the name given to Yaakov as he struggled with the enigmatic ‘man’ through the night, and prevailed, thus reminding us of the vital lesson for life and one of the key secrets to the survival of the Jewish people through our long and difficult history. As a community, and as individuals, when we come out of our comfort zones and rise to the challenges of life, these experiences often raise us to the highest level of achievement.

Shabbat Shalom, and may we share good health and good news

Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

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