If you could ask one thing of God, what should it be?
1) Please, God, may no challenges come my way. Or:
2) Please, God, may I have the power to overcome any challenges that may come my way.
The answer to which is better can be found in the humbling and heroic story of a Philadelphia Phillies baseball fan who gave his life for his land and his people.
His land is called the Land of Israel, and his people are called the Children of Israel.
Israel – it is one of the most famous words in our vocabulary, a word used far more disproportionately than any other (whether in headlines or our conversations) and yet its meaning remains shrouded in mystery.
Israel – it is more than a word, more than a geographic location, even more than a biological disposition. It is the very essence of who we are and our purpose on this earth. We, the people called Israel, have the power to overcome all and any challenges.
Some 3,500 years ago, our grandfather Jacob wrestled with a challenger, was victorious and was given the name Israel. And ever since, we, his descendants have been given the power to wrestle with any challenger, walking away victorious.
If you think that’s chutzpah, you’re right!
This sermon examines the six meanings of the word “Israel” by which we are called (head, song, directness, prince, individuality, and wrestling) and provides clear directives as to how we can become national heroes and a “light unto the nations.”