Thank you so much for your post-Rosh Hashanah email. It was wonderful hearing from you. I’m so sorry that you couldn’t get home for the High Holidays, but I’m happy to have heard that the tefillot at Hillel were beautiful. How was the food you prepared in your Alpha Epsilon Pi Jewish fraternity house? Did you use Shira’s tzimis recipe? Has your girlfriend Liat finished her service in the Israeli army?
Now, regarding your question about why we are called Bnei Yisrael, the Children of Israel, and not the Children of Avraham, I’d like to suggest it all begins in this coming week’s parsha with the first of Yaakov’s two dramatic nocturnal events.
Parshat VaYetze opens with Bereishit 28:10-12, “And Yaakov left Beersheba, and he went to Haran. And he arrived at the place and lodged there because the sun had set, and he took some of the stones of the place and placed [them] at his head, and he lay down in that place. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the ground and its top reached to heaven; and behold, angels of God were ascending and descending upon it.”
The next nighttime event appears in Parshat VaYishlach (Bereishit 32:25-29): “And Yaakov was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn. When he saw that he could not prevail against him, he touched the socket of his hip, and the socket of Yaakov’s hip became dislocated as he wrestled with him. And he (the angel) said, ‘Let me go, for dawn is breaking,’ but he (Yaakov) said, ‘I will not let you go unless you have blessed me.’ So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ and he said, ‘Yaakov.’ And he said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Yaakov, but Israel, because you have commanding power with [an angel of] God and with men, and you have prevailed.’”
Dov, the Rabbis have taught us Maase Avot Siman L’nbanim, the actions of the fathers are a sign for the children. We are the offspring of Avraham and Yitzchak, but I believe we are most like Yaakov and it is based on Yaakov that we developed as a people. Like him, we have always dreamed for our homeland; for redemption; and for better times. We have never given up the dream and, although we dreamed and continue to dream, we aren’t “pipe dreamers”; our feet stand firmly on the ground. Realizing the dream is often a difficult task and it seems we are asked to wrestle and struggle “until dawn,” we must persevere and believe dawn will come – and with it, a blessing.
Dov, like Yaakov, we must struggle for the Land of Israel, and this means we often must deal with deceitful enemies. I understand that the anti-Israel, anti-Zionist campus voices are very loud and that Israel Apartheid Week is going to be distressing.
Dov do not despair! Your presence on campus is vital and your advocacy for Israel is needed. Just remember the Torah commands us “not to stand idly by,” when Israel is attacked. You are on the campus frontlines. Stand proud! You and your fellow Jewish students are our ambassadors on campus. I spoke with a rep from Hillel and she assured me they will help and guide any student interested in strengthening the Zionist, pro-Israel voice in your university.
Shalom and Kol Tuv,