After Yaakov and his family crossed the Yabok River, Yaakov returned to retrieve pachim ketanim — small flasks. There, the Sar of Esau confronted him; what followed was the definitive battle for supremacy between the forces of good and evil. This battle continued to rage throughout the night until finally, Yaakov emerged victorious at which point he was informed of what his new name would become.
The stage was set for this momentous battle by Yaakov’s interest in recovering some small flasks. What could the Torah be hinting to when it informs us that the pachim were small? What relevance does their size have to the lessons in this episode?
Although many people assume that “bigger is better”, sometimes we find that very low-key events or small items actually are the “key” to accessing new horizons of achievement and success.
A key is a relatively small and inexpensive item, but it serves to open important doors. Without one’s keys a person could find oneself without entry into ones own home, car or office.
Like keys that open physical doors, the words of holy Torah open mental and spiritual portals, therefore let us try to “key-in” on the meaning of the name uttered by the Sar of Esau when he announced: “No longer will it be said that your name is Ya’akov, but YiSRAL, for you have striven with the Divine and with man and have overcome.” (Vayishlach 32:29).
The Creator entrusted the “key” to insights and wisdom embodied in our holy Torah to Avraham Avinu. This tradition (“key”) was handed down to his son Yitzchok, who later gave it to his son Yaakov. Apparently at that time since the Bnei Yaakov were beginning their transition from a single family into a nation of millions, it was deemed the appropriate time for the Creator in His infinite wisdom to, so to speak, design within the developing Bnei Israel a tamperproof supernal combination lock for the Torah that only the Jewish people could access.
What is this mystical combination code that binds us with our unbroken tradition all the way back to the Avos? We know that a person’s name reveals his or her spiritual essence, purpose and potential. Therefore it behooves us to unlock one of the deeper meanings within the name given by the Creator to the entire Jewish nation as well as this same name given for our holy land. The Ari Z’l reveals in a few short words one of the mystical secrets of our national name by informing us that the five (osios) letters of the name Y’SRAL are the acronym – roshei teivos – of the names of our three Avos and four Imahos: The Yud of Yitzchak and Yaakov is coded within the Yud of Y’SRAL; the S of Sarah within the Shin; the R of Rivka and Rachael within the Raish, the A of Avraham within the Alef and the L of Leah within the Lamed. Imbedded with our Nation’s name and the name of our land is the spiritual genetic combination of all our Avos and Imahos! The name Y’sral, the “key” – combination code – to our existence is an example of a single word in the Torah that contains worlds of meaning and value.
May we, the Bnei Y’sral, soon merit the final geula allowing all of us to once again live peacefully in our promised land – Eretz Israel.