Jacob’s Legacy

Yael Eckstein  |  February 1, 2023

Jacob wrestles with Angel

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” —Genesis 32:28

This month marks the fourth anniversary of the passing of my father, Fellowship Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. In his honor, I offer you a selection of devotions on the spiritual importance of legacy and leadership.

In 1992, Derek Redmond was favored to win the gold medal in the 400-meter sprint at the Barcelona Olympics. About 150 meters into the race, Derek fell to the ground in agony with a torn hamstring. Refusing to give up, Derek got up and hobbled on for another 50 meters. Suddenly, a man broke through security and came to Derek’s side.

It was Derek’s father. “You don’t have to do this,” his father said. Through pain and tears, Derek replied, “Yes, I do.” “Then we’re going to do this together.” Together, the two of them finished the race long after the other runners had crossed the finish line. More than 65,000 people rose to their feet and gave Derek a standing ovation.

Since that day, Derek has become an inspiration to millions. His amazing perseverance was featured in ads for Nike and Visa, and Derek became a motivational speaker. His story inspires and encourages as he proved that one can persevere through struggles and succeed.

Jacob’s Legacy

In Genesis chapter 32, we read about the struggle between Jacob and the mysterious man. After winning that all-night wrestling match, Jacob was given a new name: “Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

In the course of the struggle, Jacob was injured on his thigh. But Jacob didn’t give up or give in. As the Bible tells us immediately after the incident: “The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip” (32:31). In Hebrew this verse begins, vayizrach lo hashemesh, literally, “the sun rose for him.”

When we go through trials and meet adversity, we are often “injured.” We fail, we fall, and we get hurt. But the sun rises for those who persevere. Victory doesn’t mean we never fail. It means we keep on going, even if we’re limping. Jacob’s legacy encourages us to persevere. This is how we earn our victorious name.

Derek Redmond didn’t receive the gold medal in 1992, but he was victorious. The legacy he built that day lives on. Even when we are hurt and even when we are limping, we need to put one foot in front of the other and continue to walk in faith with our Father. Together, we will reach our goals.

Your Turn:

We have all had struggles. Do you feel like you’ve been left hurt and limping? Stay strong in the knowledge that perseverance is where you will find victory.