(As I write these lines, I am still completely overwhelmed by HaShem’s kindness as Judith and I celebrate the birth of our very first great grandchild named Ayala. Mazal Tov and thank you HaShem)


A few weeks ago we met Avraham. The original believer and promoter of a single Deity. And partly because of his unshakable belief in HaShem, his life was full of trials and tribulations. Yitzchak’s life was by no means easy or without challenges, especially having to deal with the sibling rivalry of his twin sons, but a lot less is known about him, and so the constant drama we witnessed with Avraham is missing.


And then comes Yakov. Oh boy. Never a dull moment. Yakov, by all accounts, had it really tough.


His twin brother Esav tries to kill him – often.

His parents send him away from home.

His uncle Lavan makes his life totally miserable.

Initially he marries the wrong girl.

His wives don't always see eye to eye.

His favourite wife Rachel dies in childbirth.

He is physically attacked by an Angel.

His only daughter Dinah is kidnapped and defiled by his neighbours.

His children are a constant source of squabble, strife and jealously.

His favourite son Yosef is seemingly killed by wild animals.

Another son, Shimon, is held ransom in Egypt.

And like his father and grandfather before him, due to famine Yakov is forced to leave the Promised Land, the Land HaShem assures him will be his and his offspring’s forever, except that he never returns during his lifetime.


In short, I don't envy Yakov, but boy do I admire him!


Do we ever hear Yakov complain to HaShem? No. On the contrary. Yakov shows only gratitude and contentment. He yearns for a quiet life, a life as a kind and thoughtful shepherd, while spending all his spare time studying Torah. And even when he faces devious and dangerous adversaries, Yakov handles himself with dignity and courage, standing up for his rights without resorting to violence or hostility. And when his children do resort to violence, he doesn't hide his disappointment.


Most admirably, all of these dramatic life experiences completely fail to shake Yaakov’s relentless faith in HaShem. It is no surprise then that Yakov receives an additional name "Yisrael" - Prince of HaShem.


This same name was given to us by Yakov. With pride and heads held high, we need to safeguard that privilege, and show HaShem that we deserve that name and never allow our own faith in HaShem to waver, no matter what. We are the People of Yisrael. Our home is Eretz Yisrael. Our life-long behaviour is based on Torat Yisrael.


Shabbat Shalom,