Dvar Torah Parshat Vayishlach 5772 2011

The angel who fought with Yaakov asked him for his name. When he was told, the angel said: LO YA’AKOV YE’AMER OD SHIMCHA KI IM YISRAEL, “…no longer will it be said that your name is Yaakov, but Yisrael…”. (Gen. 32,29)

In reality this is a blessing and a great tribute to Yaakov but it also has turned into a disadvantage for the Jewish people. The fact is that when someone commits a crime his name is given in the media and people recognize him as the one who committed the crime.

Not so with the Jews. When a Jew commits a crime, not only is he blamed for his wrong action but his act reflects on all the Jewish people. His wrongdoing points toward all the Jewish people. The world is not satisfied by merely blaming him, but places the blame upon all the Jewish people as though they are all guilty of this crime.

When a wrongdoing is committed by a Jew it is reported in the press in a way that all the Jewish people are implicated. It were as if we all participated in the wrong act.

This is implied in the blessing Yaakov got from the angel. When your descendants will be found guilty, it will no longer be simply “Yaakov” who will be accused, but the world will recognize that it was “Yisrael” that committed the offense. This, of course, makes it most imperative that our conduct be above reproach at all times.

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