1: The first time the name Israel appears
Last class we saw Esau’s Angel blessing Jacob and changing his name to Israel. Then they departed in peace. We noticed that the name ISRAEL appears here the first time, and as our rule of thumb says, whenever a concept or a name appears the first time in the Torah, there you’d find its definition.
For instance: The Name ELoKiM appears the first time in Genesis 1:1. Hence if you wish to know the meaning of that Holy Name you should look at that verse and its context. It is clear that ELKM is the CREATOR of the Heavens and the Earth, the JUDGE who judged each Day, etc. (see our classes.)
Or if you wish to know what YHVH stands for, look at the place where that Name appears the first time. Indeed, YHVH appears the first time at the end of Genesis Chapter One (1) as a shy acronym (2) that connects, like a bridge, our Sixth Day to the Seventh Days, the Sabbath.
In the same token, since Israel appears here the first time, the verse defines what Israel means.
The name Israel has, in Hebrew, several meanings, all true. Like a diamond whose many polished surfaces render it splendor. Thus:
1. Israel can mean ‘Sar with ‘El’ or a ‘prince’ among the Angels of El.
We discussed it last class.
2. Israel can mean ‘one who wrestles with El and wins,’ as the Angel explicitly says.
3. Israel can also mean: “YaShar (straight) with El,” the one who struggles for JUSTICE. After all, JUSTICE restores damages and makes things “even” again.
4. Israel can also mean: “Shar (chants) with the Angels of El. Israel is (the only) nation that chants from Earth along with the Angelic Morning Choir.
The last point needs elaboration.
The following vision is based on Isaiah, who says:
“And I saw YHVH (uttered AaDoNai)
Sitting upon His Throne High and lifted up, and his train filled the Hall,
And Serafim (angles of fire) stood above Him…
And they called each other and said:
holy, Holy, Holy is the YHVH (AaDoNai) the hosts
The whole Earth is full of his Glory.” (Isaiah 6: 3)
Isaiah saw in his Vision the Angelic Choir chanting to “EACH OTHER”: “Holy, Holy, Holy, the world is full of His Glory,” (‘three times holy.’)
The full Vision goes like this:
The Angelic Morning Choir comprises of 70 Angels representing the 70 Noahide Families of Nations. They start their day at dawn, when the sun rises 9 hours east of the Holy Land, at the eastern shore of Asia.
When each family of nations wakes up, their Angel chants “one holy.”
Three angles in a row chant in harmony “Holy, Holy, Holy…” This comprises a cycle.
After three such cycles, at the ninth hour of the day, the sun rises on Mt. Moriah and the Choir pauses. Silently they wait for Israel to chant from the ground: “Holy, Holy, Holy, the World is full of His Glory.” Esau’s Angel has granted this post to Jacob-Israel.
But even Israel, like the Angles, chant “Holy Holy, Holy,” only to EACH OTHER, as in a congregation. Moreover, Israel also chants for the entire Choir who watches.
After Israel has finished chanting ‘3 holies’ from the ground, the sun continues its travel to the west, and more nations awake up and join the Choir.
Nine hours later, when the day is still bright in the Holy Land, Israel has one more chance to sing “Holy, Holy, Holy,” from the ground while the Choir watches.
When the sun rises again on the eastern shores of Asia, a new day begins.
These cycles of chanting are repeated day by day.
Isaiah’s Vision portraits the relationship between Israel and the Nations.
All Nations chants, but Israel is appointed to be the leader FROM EARTH.
Isaiah’s vision is far from being esoteric. It has served at the core of Israel’s daily prayers since the times of Ezra, about 2600 years ago.
Let me show this to you, in a short way.
Israel’s daily morning prayer, since the Temple’s time, begins with reciting psalms.
These psalms used to accompany the pilgrims as they entered the Temple’s Courtyard.
After that, at sunrise, we recall the Angelic Choir chanting in Heavens, and we say:
“….And they (the Angels) open their mouth in holiness and purity
and accept on themselves ,FROM EACH OTHER, the yoke of the Kingdom of Heavens
granting permission to ONE ANOTHER, to sanctify the One Who formed them
In serene spirit, clear utterance and sweet melody, they all as one proclaim
His Holiness saying in awe:
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, is the Lord of Hosts, the whole world is filled with His Glory…”
</p align=left> Then, like the Angles above, Israel too accepts “the yoke of His KINGSHIP” by reciting the Shema.
Now it is time for Israel to chant from Earth.
Standing in awe like the Angles above, Israel first repents (chants the 18 prayers of the Amidah, then says FROM THE GROUND :
“Let us sanctify your Name
as they (the Angels) sanctify it in the Heavens above,
As it is said by your prophets (Isaiah): ‘and they call each other and say
HLOY, HOLY, HOLY, the Lord of Hosts, the whole world is filed with His Glory…..”
Here ISRAEL, as a congregation, tells each other what the Angels above tell each other.
By consenting to Jacob and blessing him, Esau’s Angel made Jacob Ladder Dream comes true. Jacob-is returning home with his brother’s consent and peace.
And as you remember, after having his Dream, Jacob pledged to accept on himself voluntarily at least one more Commandments. Since he abided by Abraham’s 8 Commandments, including Circumcision, his children would accept one more: the ninth:
Jacob’s 9th Commandment
So after the departing of Esau’s Angel with peace, the verse says:
“Therefore the Children of Israel would not eat the sciatic nerve
which is on the upper join of the thigh, to this day,
because he touched the ‘sinew of weakness’
at the upper join of Jacob’s thigh.” (Genesis 32: 33)
Here the term “Children of Israel” relates to Jacob’s sons. They added, voluntarily, one more Commandment: the prohibition to consume the animal’s sciatic nerve. It stands for Jacob’s wining his wrestling with the Angel. Or better: it signifies JACOB’S FIRM STAND FOR JUSTICE.
As it turns out, the people of Israel became known for many years, in the Asian continent, as the People Who Do Not Eat the Sciatic Nerve.
Jacob learned his lesson: seeking JUSTICE by confrontation would only lead to WAR.
If you play ELKM and seek the Absolute Truth, you’d end up lifting your sword.
The only way to get both JUSTICE and PEACE is to learn the art of consulting, the way to open a dialogue. By this you’d achieve JUTSICE YHVH way.
That sounds nice.
But what happens when dialogue fails?
Jacob would learn it through the next chapters,
And we’ll discuss it next class.