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A Portion of Parshat Vayishlach

by Abby Gilad

November 29, 2001 | 7:00 pm

Jacob sends his family over the Yabbok river to meet up with his brother Esau. He remains alone for the night, and is confronted by an angel. He wrestles with the angel all night long. At dawn, the angel congratulates Jacob for his strength and persistence, and changes Jacob's name to Israel.

Jacob (akev means heel) started out his life "on the heels of" his brother. He had many troubles throughout his life, as if someone were stepping on him. But he became stronger for those struggles and, eventually, earned the name Israel ("wrestles with God"). He was not beaten down anymore.

What's in a name?

Do you like the name your parents gave you? Do you ever think about it? Maybe some of you may not like your name because it's different, too foreign sounding or not American enough. Perhaps some of you wish you had a more original name. Stop a minute and think about your name. What does the name Jonathan mean? It's Hebrew for "God gave." What does the name Megan mean? It means "strong" in Old English. Are you named after someone? Who are you named for? Does your name suit you? You may decide to change your name one day. But for now, ask your parents why they gave you your name. Wear it with pride, for your name is you.

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