Parsha Vayechi: What’s in a Name? Jacob or Israel

This SD just started reading the Ohr Hachaim. It is one of the commentaries in the Chumash. (Don’t be impressed, there is an English Translation which I read when I don’t quite understand the Hebrew.)

The Ohr Hachaim starts by anaylzying the first sentence : And Jacob lived in Egypt. His qustion: Why the name Jacob and not Israel?  He broadens the question: when does the Torah use the name Jacob and when Israel.

He answer: When Jacob is on a high spiritual level the Torah refers to him as Israel. When it is not so high a spiritual plane he is Jacob.

Implicit in this idea of the name being pegged to the spiritual level is that even Jacob has his ups and downs spiritually. He is not always in spiritual bliss. Jacob is interesting because he had a hard life. He had challenges. He had conflict.  It makes sense that he always wasnt singing and dancing.  If Jacob was challenged spiritually, it should give us comfort that spirituality is a process. Spirituality is a work in progress.


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