Shine the Divine:

Creativity IS a Spiritual Practice

When we see through our hearts, we recognize that every single one of us is infused with creativity. Divine Sparks are embedded in everyone and everything. It's up to us to be courageous, to look and listen deeply, to find the sparks, gather and release them back into the universe, transformed into something new. Join me as we wake up to the sacred-ordinary blessings waiting to greet us each and every day.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Vayishlach: Blessings & Names

I am the Lorax I speak for the trees~ Dr. Seuss

…And on and on it goes; this adventure with my voice, my body shifting and changing. Again I must ask this question "Who am I?"

This week in Torah, Parshat Vayishlach (Genesis 32:23-29), Yaakov (Jacob) wrestles with a mysterious being in the night.

The setting is the edge of the Jabok River. He is on his own in this portion of the journey, leaving his large family of wives and sons to wait for him at a secure location while he treks onward to meet his brother Esav on the other side of the river; the brother he deceived 22 years before, the one who vowed to kill him if he ever found him. Alone, in the dark of night, with the terror of imagination, the regret of his past wrongs, knowing that his twin may well murder him in the morning... כה וַיִּוָּתֵר יַעֲקֹב, לְבַדּוֹ; וַיֵּאָבֵק אִישׁ עִמּוֹ, עַד עֲלוֹת הַשָּׁחַר. 32:25 'And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day' It is unclear to the reader at this point if he has had a dream or truly is attacked by an unnamed ish (man), for when he "wakes" he has an injury to his leg. While day begins to break the ish begs him to let him go, but Yaakov in his typical manner declares that he will not let go until the ish gives him a blessing. Clearly Yaakov knows that this is no ordinary man, but a being sent by God. And so he is given a new name as his blessing: Yisrael (Israel). כט וַיֹּאמֶר, לֹא יַעֲקֹב יֵאָמֵר עוֹד שִׁמְךָ--כִּי, אִם-יִשְׂרָאֵל: כִּי-שָׂרִיתָ עִם-אֱלֹהִים וְעִם-אֲנָשִׁים, וַתּוּכָל. 32:29 And he said: 'Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have wrestled with God and with men, and have prevailed.' Now the meaning of the name Yaakov (Jacob) is "supplanter", one who takes the place of (another), a schemer or strategist. And this name is true of this ancestor through out most of his life. He tricks his brother and father so that he receives what is rightfully his own twin's birth right, he is in turn deceived by his father-in-law, Leban into marrying Leah, the sister of his beloved and must work 7 more years to marry his Rachel, and then Yaakov the schemer spends the remainder of his time working for his father-in-law plotting and fleecing (litterally) Leban by misleading him so that he Yaakov ends up with the healthiest of Laban's sheep. His new name Yisrael (Israel) translates to "One who wrestles with God". Many scholars argue whether it was a Man, an Angel or perhaps his own Ego that Yaakov/Yisrael wrestled with in the night. What is clear is that in the morning he is awake; or one could say there is an awakening that happens within him.

There is a beautiful teaching (I think from the Sfat Emet but don’t quote me) that basically says Yaakov refers to the body, but Yisrael is a more complete state of being (shalem-whole)-body & soul fully integrated with a deep awareness of Unity with God.

So how does this Torah relate to my life experience, my personal Torah unfolding?
My name has not changed…exactly…but the way I pronounce my name is certainly different these days. My body is not the body I used to know, it is not as strong. I am constantly wrestling with something be it walking, talking or tying my shoes. Much in my life has become a struggle, and yet simultaneously, like Yaakov/Yisrael, I am being offered blessings. Not a new name per say; but a discovery of more peace in my heart & soul despite or maybe because of the physical struggles. *notice that the words shalom (peace) and shalem (whole) share a root, shin-lamed-mem (Hebrew is such a fascinating language that way!).

My friend called me Spirit Gate-Opener a few blogs back. That was a new name. I’m also kind of fond of the name Lorax –remember the Dr Seuss story-Lorax is the one who speaks for the trees. I think the Thanksgiving blog was kind of a combo Spirit Gate-Opener/Lorax action. I asked people to stop and pay attention to what was good in their lives, what were they grateful for (opening a Spirit Gate) and then I “spoke” for them by publishing the words of their hearts & souls on my blog so that others could hear the voice of "this small forest" of humanity.

Let me be clear, I am not at all boasting of being “enlightened” like Yisrael, Avraham, Moshe, Buddha, Jesus or Mohammed…I am not, will never be, like them, I know this. I’m just an ordinary person. I do however feel a deeper connection to God at this point in my life than I ever have before. I feel more linked to everyone and everything…not a thoroughly merged union like I imagine an enlightened being would experience-not like Yisrael, Shalem (whole), a fully integrated body & soul as I mentioned (from a memory of something I read or heard and am hopefully correctly attributing to the Sfat Emet)…but perhaps a bit closer to this state than I was before, at least in my personal awareness of what shalem might feel like.

Most likely this is temporary, like the shifting accents in my voice or the pains that come and go or the strength in my legs and arms that I pray returns, but is not present now. I don’t know. But I’m enjoying it. I am appreciating it. I am recognizing the blessing that has been bestowed upon me right now, at this moment in my life. And I am so grateful.

To read another take on Vayishlach…from the Torah of my Life exactly a year ago in Torah time, go to: gesher yoga

(I added an extra x for effect-kind of looks like a gate (xx) and also not to make anyone in the good doctor's family mad!)

ps....I found out from someone this morning that there is a NAME for this phenomenon of vocal globe trotting I am experiencing! It is called Foreign Accent happens to people who have stokes and other brain malfunctions and occasionally to people with go figure...I write a blog about changing names and the next day here's a NAME for this weird experience...kind of cool when stuff like this happens, no? (by the way, today I sound like I am from kiiiding!...and really, who knew "Elmer Fudd" was an accent?)


  1. " the morning he is awake; or one could say there is an awakening that happens within him."

    i appreciate the twist in this

    the spiritual state of being you are experiencing is such a blessing, one of which some will never know in their lifetime

  2. Perhaps this is true Kel, about the spiritual state I am experiencing, and yet I wouldn't wish illness on anyone as a way to reach this "place" of my awakening. It just "is" for me right now. I think the blessing is mostly that I recognize the "blessing", you know?

    may all be well with you, so far away on the other side of the world. Yet another blessing, befriending people so very far away!


  3. I'm so glad you pointed out the similar starts to Shalom and Shalem --- I noticed it as I read your post, and then happily had the explanation a few sentences later.

    I'm new here, but intrigued and plan to return! Thank you!

  4. I welcome you Megan to my ethereal internet home!

  5. Laura i love reading your posts, always so interesting, and hearing about your journey.. you are a very gentle and wise soul :)
    blessings, love and hugs to you x

  6. Laura, you are too funny, even at this time with all of your pain, you are truly someone to look up to.
    I just pray that you start to get better soon!!


  7. Thank you all for your kind words and Claudia, for recognizing that my sense of humor is abundant...perhaps this is the greatest wisdom available to me of all at this time! I find crying to be healing at times, but humor really does it for me...and believe me if you could hear me talk you would laugh too! Because it's just so darn funny! I mean if I could control it I could make some serious supplemental income as a voice over for cartoons!

  8. I too feel we grow through our struggles. If we let our ego take over, we become resentful, angered and frustrated (and yes I feel those all too often) but when we mentally wrestle with our higher self and our ego, the higher or enlightened self will win. We learn that there is so much more than the physical body. It is just a vessel that houses our soul. Once we learn how to put aside the ego , the enlightened soul can come forth and show us the way. God sends messages to us through the soul, if we but listen.
    You my new friend, have an enlightened soul and for that I am thankful. Your posts share your struggles and your passion for life. You are teaching and sharing of yourself, of your soul to those that listen. Thank you for being who you are and all you can be, struggles and all. May you continue on your journey through life. God did not promise us an easy life, but He did promised to Always Be there, we only have to ask....One day, one hour, one moment at a time... He's there, whispering to your soul, wrapping you in Angel's wings, guiding you though this, your journey. Blessings of Healing, Hope, Peace and Love to you and yours, today and always. Love and Light, Nina P

  9. Once again, I am moved to tears by a blog angel. Thank you Nina. It always comes down to those two simple and endlessly meaningful words: Thank You.


  10. Thank you so much for visiting. Reading a post from one of your other blogs I can say that I know what you mean by not being able to write sometimes.
    It has been difficult for me to post lately. My concentration spins like a top. And then there is the symptoms of my illness that I am constantly fighting. I suppose I am under a great deal of stress. As I get worse it is harder. I feel bad that I am not posting, but I hope the people who read my blog understand.
    I like what I've read here. I will have to come back and look at your other blogs.
    My best to you.
    Peace be with you, Beaux

  11. I am quite certain your readers understand Beau. We do what we can when we can with the energy/concentration/strength available...sometimes we can write... other days just getting out of bed is a feat worthy of an olympic gold medal! But we're here, in this moment...breathing and loving the people in our lives...and grateful for that...and that is enough...more than enough most days.

    wishing you ease and comfort,


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