Sedra: Vayishlach
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Sedra: Vayishlach

Rebbetzin Shuli Liss looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah

Torah scroll (Photo by Tanner Mardis on Unsplash)
Torah scroll (Photo by Tanner Mardis on Unsplash)

A little girl saw an egg hatch in her garden. She watched in dismay as the bird seemed to struggle to escape. The girl broke the shell herself and the bird hobbled out.

Fascinated, she watched as the bird tried to spread its wings, but
it was unable to do so as the wings were not fully formed. Although the child meant well, the effort needed to hatch was necessary to build the bird’s muscles.

None of us want to struggle – we want life to be easy and comfortable. Yet it is through the struggle that we build our spiritual muscles and become strong, resilient people who can achieve great things.

In this week’s Sedra, Jacob was attacked by Esau’s angel. Although injured, he won the battle and was blessed with a new name, Israel, from the word ‘struggle’. The question is not whether one can avoid difficulties, but how one can view them and use their potential.

We are inundated with adverts encouraging us to find an easier path, reduce any pain and avoid the queues. This mindset leads us towards disappointment when life hands us problems, rather than the comforts we have learnt to expect.

As a child, Aharon Margolit suffered with polio and spent many lonely years in hospital, strapped to a bed. Due to his mother’s dedication and intense, painful exercises, he learnt to walk. Yet, despite his continuous struggles, or maybe because of them, he went on to become an incredible speaker and writer. His book, As Long as I Live, has inspired thousands worldwide.

Learning to view the struggles in life as challenges rather than obstacles will enable us to fully embrace every experience and, hopefully, turn them into blessings.

  •   Shuli Liss is the Rebbetzin of Highgate United Synagogue

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