Monday, April 25, 2016

Tenth Set of 22 Days: Kuf and Reish, Wind and Lightning Bolts (the Priestly Family of Seorim)

Tuesday, the 18th of Nissan, begins the tenth set of 22 days of the Jewish calendar, which parallels the letters Kuf and Reish, as well as the Wind and Lighting Bolts in Perek Shirah. This 22-day period comes in the middle of the Passover holiday, and extends until the 9th of Iyar, halfway through the counting of the Omer.

Kuf means "monkey," which is one of the primary symbols of impurity, Klippah, which itself begins with a Kuf. The Kuf is shaped like an imperfect Heh (which represents holiness), just like a monkey is an imperfect imitation of a human being. At the times that we behave properly, the Torah states that five (gematria of Heh) of us will chase one hundred (gematria of Kuf). 

On the other hand, Kuf can also stand for holiness itself, Kedushah, which also begins with the letter Kuf. We therefore see that the Kuf has potential for both holiness and unholiness, and represents the process of transformation from unholiness to holiness, just as during these days between Passover and Shavuot the Jews went from the 49th level of unholiness to the 49th level of holiness. Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh in his book, The Hebrew Letters, states that the Kuf represents the kabbalistic concept of "Redemption of Fallen Sparks." (p.280) In Kabbalah, redeeming the holy sparks is the very reason for our existence (Tikkun Olam, "fixing the world"), and the rationale behind our exile(s).

The next letter, the Reish, also represents a similar dual concept. It can stand for Rash (poor) or Rosh (head), just as the month of Nissan itself is both the head of all the months and yet a month of humility in which we eat the bread of poverty. Nissan represent Judah, the head of all the tribes, and yet someone who was humbly willing to accept his shortcomings and transform them. Similar to the Kuf, Rav Ginsburgh states that the Reish stands for Avodat HaBerurim (the service of clarification), which is also very much related to the redemption of the sparks mentioned above. Once the Avodat HaBerurim is completed, Mashiach (son of David, from Judah) will come and bring about the ingathering of the exiles and redemption.

Furthermore, the Zohar mentions that two letters Kuf and Reish together also have a poor connotation. They form part of the word Sheker, a lie. Kuf and Reish by themselves spell Kar, coldness, also associated with impurity (Raskin). Kuf and Reish are also the first two letters of the word Keri, a strong form of impurity associated with seminal emission, as well as with Amalek. Yet, when the last letter of the word Keri, the yud (which, like the Heh, stands for G-dliness) is placed in the beginning, in front of the Kuf and the Reish, it forms the word Yakar, which means "dear." Here too, we see that impurity can be transformed into a feeling of dearness and closeness to G-d.

A similar theme can be found in the Perek Shirah verses of the Wind and the Lightning Bolts:

The Wind is saying, “I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Do not withhold; bring My sons from far, and My daughters from the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 43:6)

The Lightning Bolts are saying, “He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain; He brings forth the wind from His storehouses." (Psalms 135:7)

The verses above are clearly related to the ingathering of the exiles. Both verses speak of the "ends of the earth." This is related to Passover, but also to Yom Ha'Atzma'ut. (See here, how theoretically Yom Ha'Atzma'ut could be celebrated as late as the 9th of Iyar, the 24th day of the Omer). 

Wind in Hebrew is "Ruach," which also means spirit. It is a word specifically connected to Mashiach, and the Haftorah we read for the last day of Passover. The verse of the wind specifically addresses two kinds of exile, north (Assyria) and south (Egypt), telling the forces of impurity to "give up" and "not withhold," elevating the sparks and transforming them into holiness.

The Lightning Bolts also bring to mind the miracles of Egypt and the giving of the Torah at Sinai (marked by both thunder and lightning). The verse also speaks of the Lightning Bolts making "vapors" ascend, which seems very much parallel to the concept of elevating the fallen sparks back to their source. In fact, Rav Ginsburgh mentions "vapor" as an aspect of elevating fallen sparks, related to both the Reish itself and the form of the Reish within the Kuf itself (made of a Reish and Zayin). Interestingly, the verse of the Lightning Bolts also mentions the wind.

The Temple guard for these 22 days is connected to the priestly family of Seorim. Seorim means sheaves of barley, which is exactly the material used for the Omer offering. The Omer is referred to in the Torah as 'Minchat Seorim," an offering of barley. This is connected to the Counting of the Omer done at this time of year. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

(In Advance due to Passover) The Beast of Burden is Saying (Song(s) for Week 29)

The Beast of Burden is Saying,

My mouth is opened wide against my enemies
For I have rejoiced in Your salvation.
[In the] evening, you shall know that
The Lord brought you out of the land of Egypt.

That when they prepare what they will bring
It will be double of what they gather every day.
When you eat the fruit of your labors,
Happy are you and good is your lot.

Daughters saw her and praised her,
Queens and concubines, and they lauded her
And I shall make his seed endure forever,
And his throne as the days of the heavens.

And Hannah prayed and said:
Who is this who looks forth like the dawn
Fair as the moon, clear as the sun,
Awesome as the bannered legions?

For You are my lamp, Oh Lord
And the Lord does light my darkness.
In the morning, like grass it passes away.
In the morning, it blossoms and passes away

Moses and Aaron said to all the children of Israel,
There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, and innumerable maidens.
If [only] they were wise and would understand this
They would reflect upon their fate.

For we perish from Your wrath,
And from Your anger we are dismayed.
And it shall be on the sixth day
In the evening, it is cut off and withers.

You carry them away as a flood
They are like a sleep
The brook Kishon swept them away,
That ancient brook, the brook Kishon

My dove, my perfect one, is but one, she is one to her mother
She is the pure one of she who bore her
My heart has rejoiced through the Lord
My horn has been raised by the Lord.

Week 29 (From the Book): After the Initial Inspiration, To Get to Work

PEREK SHIRAH: The beast of burden is saying, "When you eat the fruit of your labors, happy are you and good is your lot." (Psalms 128:2)

PIRKEI AVOT: Rabbi Eliezer [the son of] Chisma would say: the laws of kinin (bird offerings) and the laws of menstrual periods---these, these are the meat of Halachah (Torah law). The calculations of solar seasons and gematria are the condiments of wisdom.

SEFIRAH COMBINATION: Chesed shebeHod (kindness within the context of glory and gratefulness)

As we enter the twenty-ninth week, the week of Passover, in Perek Shirah, the large impure (non-kosher) domestic animal sings that those that eat from the work of their own hands are praiseworthy and are blessed with good. (Psalm 128:2) This animal has been translated by Rabbi Slifkin simply as the “beast of burden.”[1] On Passover, we feel the influx of Hashem’s blessings and redemption. At the same time, from the second day of Passover onwards, the Jewish people begin counting the omer and begin working towards self-improvement. Thus, by the time Shavuot arrives, we will have merited to receive the Torah, at least in part through the work of our own hands.

This week’s animal appears to be a reference to Yishmael and his descendants. This son of Abraham was known for his great capacity for praying and for trusting in G-d’s blessings and salvation.[2] In fact, Yishmael did receive great blessings, although part of the blessings showed that there were aspects of his lifestyle that still needed to be improved. The angel tells Hagar, Yishmael’s mother, that "his hand would be on everyone.”[3] Later in life, Yishmael repents, returns to G-d, and has a good relationship with Isaac.[4] In messianic times, Isaac and Yishmael will coexist in peace.

Our sages interpret the verse of the beast of burden to be a dual blessing, “praiseworthy” – in this world, and “good for you” - in the world to come. There is a custom in Chassidic circles, instituted by the Ba’al Shem Tov, to make a meal on the eighth day of Passover called Moshiach Seudah, in honor of Mashiach and the world to come.

The number twenty-nine is connected to the cycle of the moon (29.5 days to be exact), on which the Jewish month is based. Muslims, who consider themselves descendants of Yishmael, follow a purely lunar calendar. Twenty-nine is also the number of days in a woman’s menstrual cycle. (See Pirkei Avot below)

The lesson in Pirkei Avot for this week is found in the teaching of Rabbi Elazar the son of Chismah. He explains that the laws relating to bird sacrifices and menstrual cycles are essential, while astronomy and numerological calculations (gematria) are the spice of wisdom. (III:18) On Passover, we do not eat chametz, leavened bread. Spiritually, this represents the notion that on Passover we set aside everything that makes us feel “inflated” and takes away from our essence, our core identity as reflected in our relationship with G-d and with each other.    

Furthermore, on Passover, G-d connects to us on a deeply personal level, primarily as our Redeemer, instead of as the Creator of the Universe. (See Appendix I) This appears to be taught in this week’s Pirkei Avot: G-d does not want us to lose ourselves in grandiose and esoteric topics, such as astronomy and gematria. He would rather see us involved also in the details of properly serving Him in how we conduct ourselves on a daily basis.

The two sets of laws mentioned in Pirkei Avot are particularly important to daily conduct. They are fundamental to the relationship between G-d and the Jewish People, and between husband and wife (which is also a metaphor for our relationship with G-d, as expressed in Solomon’s Song of Songs). Bird sacrifices are related to our ability to come closer to G-d.  The word for sacrifice in Hebrew is korban, from the word karov, which means close (nowadays, because we cannot bring sacrifices, prayer and study serve as substitutes). Similarly, the laws related to the female menstrual cycle are essential in order to make wives permissible to their husbands.[5]

This week, the combination of sefirot results in chesed shebehod. This week, we work on ourselves in order to properly receive and appreciate G-d’s blessings that we receive during Passover. (This week would also represent the “eighth week” of Shavuot and “Shivah Yemei Miluim” of the cycle of Netzach. This is appropriate, as Pessach is the festival of redemption)

We learn from the beast of burden that in our path towards righteousness, Hashem helps us and journeys with us along the way. Nevertheless, we should not want or expect our spiritual development to be "spoon-fed." Even if ultimately everything comes from G-d, we must work hard to achieve spiritual elevation ourselves.

[1] Slifkin, p. 11
[2] Genesis 21:10, 48:22, Targum
[3] Ibid.
[4] Genesis 25:9, Rashi
[5] The Torah sets forth laws regarding times during a woman’s menses in which husband and wife do not touch, and instead interact primarily on a spiritual plane. These essential laws help preserve a higher level intimacy and attraction, since the physical side of the relationship is renewed each month.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Pig is Saying (Song(s) for Week 28)

The Pig is Saying

Turn away your eyes from me, for they have made me haughty;
For they are a nation devoid of counsel and they have no understanding.
G-d is good to those that are good, as well as to the straight-hearted.
And the humble people You do deliver; but Your eyes are upon the haughty to humble them.

The children of Israel said to them,
If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt,
When we sat by pots of meat, when we ate bread to our fill!
For you have brought us out into this desert, to starve this entire congregation to death.

You bring man to the crushing point and You say, "Return, O sons of men."
Your hair is like a flock of goats that streamed down from Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of ewes that came up from the washing,
All of which are perfect and there is no bereavement among them.

A prayer of Moses, the man of G-d. O Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
And I also have lent him to the Lord; all the days which he will be alive, he is borrowed by the Lord.
Before the mountains were born, and You brought forth the earth and the inhabited world,
And from everlasting to everlasting, You are G-d.

So the Lord said to Moses, Behold! I am going to rain down for you bread from heaven,
From heaven they fought; the stars; From their courses fought against Sisera.
I will forever keep My kindness for him, and My covenant will remain true to him.
Your temple is like a split pomegranate from beneath your kerchief.

For a thousand years are in Your eyes like yesterday, which passed, and a watch in the night.
And the people shall go out and gather what is needed for the day,
So that I can test them, whether or not they will follow My teaching.
And he prostrated himself there to the Lord.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Week 28 (from the Book): To Recognize our Limits in order to Free Ourselves from Them

The pig [and rabbit] is saying:[1] "G-d is good to the good, and to the straight-hearted." (Psalms 128:2)

Rabbi Eliezer the son of Azariah would say: If there is no Torah, there is no common decency; if there is no common decency, there is no Torah. If there is no wisdom, there is no fear of G-d; if there is no fear of G-d, there is no wisdom. If there is no applied knowledge, there is no analytical knowledge; if there is no analytical knowledge, there is no applied knowledge. If there is no flour, there is no Torah; if there is no Torah, there is no flour.

He would also say: One whose wisdom is greater than his deeds, what is he comparable to? To a tree with many branches and few roots; comes a storm and uproots it, and turns it on its face. As is stated, "He shall be as a lone tree in a wasteland, and shall not see when good comes; he shall dwell parched in the desert, a salt land, uninhabited" (Jeremiah 17:6). But one whose deeds are greater than his wisdom, to what is he compared? To a tree with many roots and few branches, whom all the storms in the world cannot budge from its place. As is stated: "He shall be as a tree planted upon water, who spreads his roots by the river; who fears not when comes heat, whose leaf is ever lush; who worries not in a year of drought, and ceases not to yield fruit" (ibid., v. 8).

Malchut shebeNetzach (kingship within the context of victory and endurance)

On this twenty-eighth week, which includes the first night of Passover, in Perek Shirah, the small impure (non-kosher) domestic animal sings that, “G-d is good to those that are good, and to those that are upright of heart. (Psalm 125:4) Some translations believe this to be a reference to the pig, while others to the rabbit. This week also includes the yahrzeit of the Third Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel (the Tzemach Tzedek), and the birthday of the Seventh Rebbe, who carries the same name of the Third, his ancestor through direct patrilineal descent.[2]

The pig is considered by the sages to be a hypocrite, because it proudly displays the external characteristics of being kosher, split hooves, but internally, its intestines, make it a non-kosher animal. The physical makeup of the rabbit and other animals of its kind (such as the hare and the hyrax) is the exact opposite. These animals do not have split hooves, yet their intestines are that of a kosher animal. Internally, they are "upright of heart," but their actions and external characteristics are clearly not so.

Aside from the pig and the camel (Week Thirty), the hyrax and the hare are the only other two animals explicitly mentioned in the Torah as not being kosher. The Midrash in Vaikra Rabbah 13:5 explains that the hyrax represents the Persian exile, while the hare represents the Greek one. The pig represents the Roman exile, connected to Esau and his descendants. This is the exile we are currently in. The song these animals sing is a reference to the final redemption, when even the pig will be "upright of heart,” and all these animals will be kosher.

The Tzemach Tzedek and the Rebbe represent the main thrust of the message of Passover: redemption. The name “Tzemach Tzedek” is actually one of the names of Mashiach, as is also the name “Menachem.” As we see from the animals above, redemption has two major aspects: internal traits (intellectual, emotional) and external ones (material, physical). In relation to “internal” redemption, both the Tzemach Tzedek and the Rebbe introduced very important new concepts in Chassidic thought and were finally able to publish and disseminate the works of previous Rebbes. At the same time, both were extremely successful externally, in the realm of action. The Tzemach Tzedek established agricultural settlements that saved many Jews from dire poverty, and also rescued thousands upon thousands of children forced to enlist in the Russian army. Similarly, the Rebbe was able to establish Jewish centers all over world, and helped save thousands of Jews trapped in the "iron curtain" of the Soviet Union.

The number twenty-eight represents twice the value of fourteen, yad, a reference to the strong and outstretched arm of G-d that took us out of Egypt. (See Week 14) Here, that concept is doubled, representing two outstretched arms. On Passover, we celebrate that Hashem saved us then, while fully believing that He will soon save us again, in a way that is even more miraculous than what took place in Egypt.

Twenty eight is formed by the letters kaf and chet, forming the word koach, which means strength. Koach also means potential energy, that which is yet to be revealed. The pig seems to have the possibility and potential to be kosher, but ultimately it is not – at least not yet. As mentioned earlier, the pig represents Esau, the brother of Jacob, who had enormous potential; that potential made Isaac believe that Esau would ultimately be worthy of the rights and blessings of the firstborn. Like the pig, Esau would also pretend to be a tzadik before his father, so much so that the Midrash relates that Esau would ask Isaac how to tithe salt and straw. Salt and straw do not need to be tithed, and therefore Esau’s request made him look like he was ready to go beyond the letter of the law. The Rebbe explains that salt is an example of potential energy. Salt by itself is just salt, but when combined with other food it can enhance its flavor, and even preserve it from spoiling.

This week, the lesson from Pirkei Avot comes from Rabbi Elazar the son of Azariah. Interestingly, rabbinical discussion in the Passover Haggadah begins with this rabbi’s remarks. In Pirkei Avot, Rabbi Elazar teaches us that without Torah there is no work (also translated as proper social conduct), and without work (or proper social conduct) there is no Torah. Without wisdom there is no fear of G-d, and without fear of G-d, there is no wisdom. Without knowledge, there is no understanding, and without understanding, there is no knowledge. Without flour (sustenance) there is no Torah, and without Torah there is no flour.  Rabbi Elazar also states that anyone whose knowledge exceeds his good deeds is like a tree with many branches and few roots, but one whose good deeds exceed his knowledge is like a tree that has few branches but many roots.

In Rabbi Elazar the son of Azariah’s words we also see the duality and relationship between required internal and external kosher characteristics. Knowledge requires action, and vice versa. Rabbi Elazar does make clear, however, that action must take priority. This was also something emphasized by the Rebbe, who stressed that the main thing is action, “HaMa’aseh Hu HaIkar.”

The flour mentioned here is perhaps also reference to matzah and also to the custom of providing flour to the poor (Maot Chitim, literally “wheat” money), so that they can also properly celebrate Passover. Furthermore, in order to prepare for Passover, we must rid ourselves of our own chametz, both the external leavened (self-inflated) bread, as well as our “internal” chametz, our inflated ego.

This week we complete one more cycle of seven weeks. This week’s sefirah combination is malchut shebenetzach. During the Passover Seder, we experience victory, humility, and redemption, all expressed openly in this physical world. Through the song of the pig and rabbit, we learn to aspire to a life of complete integrity and complete redemption.

[1] The Artscroll translation, by Rabbi Nosson Scherman, includes a picture of a rabbit, not a pig. The Hebrew term can be translated literally as “small/thin impure animal.”
[2] It is worth noting that their respective wives also carry the same name, Chayah Mushka.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Cow is Saying (Song(s) for Week 27)

The Cow is Saying My beloved has gone down to his garden, to the spice beds To graze in the gardens and to gather roses And the entire community of the children of Israel Came to the desert of Scin, which is between Elim and Sinai You led Your people like a flock By the hand of Moses and Aaron On the fifteenth day of the second month After their departure from the land of Egypt The entire community of the children of Israel Complained against Moses and against Aaron in the desert The sound of Your thunder was in the rolling wind Lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked With a pure one, You show Yourself pure But with a perverse one, You deal crookedly Were it not that the enemy's wrath was heaped up Lest their adversaries distort Your way was through the sea Your path through the mighty waters And Your footsteps were not known In Taanach by the waters of Megiddo They journeyed from Elim They took no gain of money Lest they claim, "Our hand was triumphant! The Lord did none of this!" Rejoice to the Lord of our strength Trumpet to the Lord of Jacob! I will also make him [My] firstborn Supreme over the kings of the earth For this child did I pray I am my beloved's And my beloved is mine Who grazes among the roses You are fair, my beloved, as Tirzah Comely as Jerusalem, awesome as the bannered legions And the Lord granted me my request Which I asked of Him.

Week 27 (From the Book): To Purify Ourselves in order to Change

The cow is saying, "Rejoice to the Lord over our strength, trumpet to the Lord of Jacob!" (Psalms 81:2)

Rabbi Akiva would say: Jesting and frivolity accustom a person to promiscuity. Tradition is a safety fence to Torah, tithing a safety fence to wealth, vows a safety fence for abstinence; a safety fence for wisdom is silence.

He would also say: Beloved is man, for he was created in the image [of G-d]; it is a sign of even greater love that it has been made known to him that he was created in the image, as it is says, "For in the image of G-d, He made man" (Genesis 9:6). Beloved are Israel, for they are called children of G-d; it is a sign of even greater love that it has been made known to them that they are called children of G-d, as it is stated: "You are children of the L-rd your G-d" (Deuteronomy 14:1). Beloved are Israel, for they were given a precious article; it is a sign of even greater love that it has been made known to them that they were given a precious article, as it is stated: "I have given you a good purchase; My Torah, do not forsake it" (Proverbs 4:2).

All is foreseen, and freedom of choice is granted. The world is judged with goodness, but in accordance with the amount of man's positive deeds.

He would also say: Everything is placed in pledge, and a net is spread over all the living. The store is open, the storekeeper extends credit, the account-book lies open, the hand writes, and all who wish to borrow may come and borrow. The collection-officers make their rounds every day and exact payment from man, with his knowledge and without his knowledge. Their case is well founded, the judgment is a judgment of truth, and ultimately, all is prepared for the feast.

Yesod shebeNetzach (foundation and firmness within the context of victory and endurance)

As we arrive at week twenty-seven, even closer to Passover, it is the turn of the large pure (kosher) domestic animal to proclaim that we rejoice to the G-d of Jacob, the source of our strength. (Psalm 81:2) The large pure domestic animal is seen as a reference to the cow. The Jewish people are called by the names Israel and Jacob. Jacob is usually the name used when we are in a more fragile, humble state. When we are feeling weak, we must rely even more on Hashem as the source of our strength. This is also the week of the yahrzeit of the Rebbe Rashab, on the 2nd of Nissan. The Rebbe Rashab’s leadership took place during a tumultuous time in Jewish history, when the Jewish people were in a particularly fragile state (like the song of the cow), and faced the harsh anti-religious oppression of the Bolsheviks in Russia.

The cow also represents the spiritual exile and impurity of Egypt, embodied by the golden calf. Conversely, the cow also represents the purification through the Parah Adumah, the Red Heifer. The Red Heifer had to be completely red, pure and complete/whole (tamim).[1] The Red Heifer's ashes were used for purification of the highest form of impurity - contact with the dead. This purification process had to be performed by every Jew that found himself in a state of impurity in order to bring the Passover offering during this month.  It is for this reason that we read a special Torah portion about the Red Heifer, known as Parashat Parah, in a few weeks before this holiday. The Rebbe Rashab also is a tremendous example of purity. He established Tomchei Tmimim yeshiva system – its students were known as tmimim, the pure, wholesome ones. The Rebbe Rashab’s last ma’amar was about the ultimate destruction of Amalek and the husks of impurity (kelipah).

The number twenty-seven is formed by the Hebrew letters kaf and zayin, which form the word zach, “pure.” In preparation for Passover, we must purify ourselves physically and spiritually, returning to G-d, and eagerly awaiting his redemption.

The Pirkei Avot for week twenty-seven is found in the lessons of Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Akiva is known for his many popular sayings, one of which is directly related to the purification of the people of Israel. Rabbi Akiva states how praiseworthy are the Jewish people, whose purification comes directly from our Father in Heaven.[2]  In the Pirkei Avot for this week, Rabbi Akiva first describes how to maintain one’s purity, by not engaging in jest. He also describes how dear is man, since he was created in the image of G-d, and how beloved are the People of Israel, who are called G-d’s children and were given the Torah. Rabbi Akiva’s section in Pirkei Avot includes several other fundamental and profound teachings that serve as the intellectual foundation of the Jewish religion. Similarly, the teachings of the Rebbe Rashab serve as intellectual foundation of Chabad philosophy.

Rabbi Akiva ends his words in Pirkei Avot stating that everything is prepared for the feast. In Nissan, too, everything is prepared for the feast of Passover. There is no one better than Rabbi Akiva to be sharing his lessons during the month of Nissan, given that he is one of the greatest examples of complete humility and self-sacrifice (qualities related to this month and to Passover). This sage began to study Torah at the age of 40, sitting silently and humbly alongside small children... and the result? Rabbi Akiva became one of the greatest Torah scholars of all time. Rabbi Akiva’s name also has the same root as the name Jacob. Both names come from the word eikev, which means heel. This is in contrast to the name Israel, which contains the same letters as Li Rosh, “mine is the head.” While the head is the highest part of the body, the heel is the lowest.

This week’s sefirot combination results in yesod shebenetzach, that is, foundation within determination, victory and redemption. This is perhaps the most prominent feature of Jewish education during our long exile. Nissan is when we were liberated from Egypt, physically and spiritually, and when we will be liberated from the current exile as well.

The lesson learned from the cow is that in the journey to make our tikkun - our spiritual correction, the very reason why we came into the world - G-d is the source of our strength. The cow sings about Jacob, who worked hard all his life to overcome the obstacles laid out before him along the way. Only after much perseverance and determination did Jacob manage to overcome these difficulties and become Israel. Each of us also undergoes changes and progress, even if we do not realize it. In this process, G-d is always by our side.

[1] The word tamim is related to the word tam, simple/pure, which is also connected to Jacob. In his early years, Jacob is called an “Ish Tam Yoshev Ohalim,” a pure/simple man who dwells in the tents (of study). (Genesis 25:27)
[2] Mishnah, Yoma 8:9