In Torah name changes take place after interactions with the Divine. Abram and Sarai become Abraham and Sarah. In this week’s Torah portion, Vayishlach, Jacob becomes Israel after wrestling with an angel. Jacob refuses to let the divine being go unless he gives Jacob a blessing. “No more shall you be called Jacob, but Israel… for you have struggled with God … and you have prevailed” (Gen. 32:29). The meaning of the name “Israel” is “to struggle.” While Torah presents Jacob’s struggle as a physical one, we understand the meaning of the story to imply that to be Jewish is to struggle … with God, with our purpose for being in the world, and to struggle with ourselves.
Like Jacob, may our struggles lead us to positive change as we try to wrestle blessing from our daily lives.