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    Changing his name – Vayyishlach

    Abraham’s name was changed from Abram: the Torah says, “Your name shall no longer be called Abram” (Gen. 17:5). Hence from this point onwards we only hear of Abraham and the name Abram is just history.

    But there is a problem when Abraham’s grandson Jacob is given a new name, “Israel”. Thereafter we sometimes hear of Jacob and sometimes of Israel. Why is there one law for Abraham and a different one for Jacob?

    The explanation offered by the Lubavitcher Rebbe is that there were two stages in the service of God. The patriarch was “Jacob” (from a root that means “to supplant”) when he was engaged in acquiring material benefits but “Israel” (from “struggle with God”) when he sought the spiritual benefit of a blessing from the Almighty.

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