What does it mean then to prevail with God and be "blessed" by God? Though the root word of "bless" is "kneel," surely the human Jacob has not actually dominated or overpowered the Almighty Creator to become his conquest.
Most of us consider G-d a four letter word. Something to be avoided at all costs, lest we be associated with the crazies and the terrorists and the preachers. When I started my journey into becoming a religious Jew, I figured this was finally going to change. It didn't.
When my wife and I chose the names of our three precious children, we were committed to naming them after family members we had loved and lost. It struck me immediately, when our youngest daughter was named, that the pantheon of my ancestral family was whole again.
As we count each of the days of the sefira, we are meant to realign ourselves. The goal is to hold back what needs to be held back and push ourselves into those awkward uncomfortable places that ultimately make us into better people.
We live in this world that tells us: If you have problems, the answer is outside of you. If you're looking for truth, it exists somewhere else. If you want to grow, you need to leave your hometown, your community, your world. And that was the compulsion I had throughout college.
I was invited to attend the Dr. Phil show last week to offer commentary on their feature story about a young and beautiful woman who had a tale of unsettling circumstances in regard to her Hasidic background.
During Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, for the first truly extended period of time, I returned to myself. I got to experience myself in a state of completion, and got to see and feel who I am when I am whole.