It’s the struggle, not the victory

ציור: אהובה קליין (c)
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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Lately I have been collecting material for the new Bat Mitzvah workshop that I am now conducting. Yesterday I asked Rav Yoni Lavi for his opinion on the most important thing to say to 12-year-old girls. He then said something that, it seems to me, would be important to hear at any age:

“Our name is ‘Yisrael,’ We received it after the victory of Ya’akov over the angel. ‘Your name shall no longer be called Ya’akov, but Yisrael, because you strived with God and with men, and you have prevailed’. According to this verse, it would be more appropriate to call us ‘prevailer’ and not Yisrael, because you would think the main point of the story is the victory (‘and you have prevailed’), no? And yet we see that the emphasis is really on ‘and you strived’ – on the struggle, on determination, on the ability to cope with adversity, and not on results or achievement.

We are not going to win every battle, but we are a nation of fighters with persistence. For us, coming of age is the age of overcoming in which we join those eternal special forces who perpetually fight to bring more goodness into the world. This is the most important thing to remember, from childhood forward: we have been named for the struggle and not for the victory.”

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