Vayishlach: Israel vs. The World: The Nation That Dwells Alone



With the overwhelming U.N. vote in favor of a “state” of Palestine – which included Western powers such as France – the Jewish Homeland finds itself standing alone, yet again, against the world.

But as hard as it is to swallow the implied condemnation of the majority of nations, is it really bad to stand alone? Isn’t this the way it was always meant to be, as the Book of Numbers tells us: Israel “is a nation that dwells alone and is not be reckoned among the nations?”

That state of existential loneliness began for the Jewish people on the lonely night that our forefather Jacob wrestled with the stranger – a dramatic episode we read about in this week’s Torah portion: “And Jacob remained alone.”

What is the meaning and significance of Jacob’s loneliness? Is he the archetype of the lonely human being? The lonely sense we all have – that despite loving family and friends, at the core of our being, there is a part of us that cannot totally connect with anyone else.

Loneliness seems to be at the core of the human condition – both on a personal level and on a collective level, as demonstrated by the isolation of Israel.

However, despite the fact that this is how it must be – for that lonely place can never be truly filled as long as the divine purpose is concealed in this world – there is an antidote to the problem, as this sermon reveals.


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