This week’s Bisl Torah is featured in the Jewish Journal’s Table for Five.
In “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” the Caterpillar stares at Alice and asks, “Who … are … you?” And Alice replies, “I hardly know. At least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”
Alice echoes what many of us feel daily: We think we know who we are and then life throws us a curve ball — a new job or the loss of a job, a different role in the family, a birth, a death, an illness. We are faced with strange journeys and sometimes we can hardly remember who we are at all.
Think of the names or descriptive phrases that once typified your character: once single, now married with children? Once married and now single with children out of the house? Student, now boss or business owner? Retiree looking for renewed purpose? Brand new parent? Recent mourner? Our names morph with every season. Who we are is a constant question, one that often leaves us mystified and reaching toward the heavens for direction and guidance.
Jacob’s name is changed to Israel, the one who struggles with God. Perhaps the Torah is reminding us that we are like Jacob: waking up with the dawn, finding ourselves on uncharted paths, destiny unknown. And although we may struggle in determining who we are and what names are in our future, like Jacob, we know, we struggle — with God. Whatever our name, whoever we are, God is with us. We are not alone.