"Jacob remained alone and a stranger wrestled with him until the break of dawn. When he saw that he could not defeat him, he touched the upper joint of Jacob’s thigh. Jacob’s hip joint became dislocated as he wrestled with him. As a result, Jacob was limping because of his thigh." (Gen. 32:25-26)

Allow me to share with you the prescient explanation of the Zohar of this cryptic episode of Jacob’s lonely battle with the "stranger:"

Jacob refers to the Torah...

States the Zohar: Jacob refers to the Torah and his hip symbolizes the financial supporters of Torah study and dissemination. Jacob being weakened by his hip dislocation represents a situation when the financial pillars (compared to legs) cease supporting Torah scholarship, which cause the Torah to be "forgotten from one generation to another and its strength weakened."

As a result, the "negative forces" gain power with each day, and "much evil" therefore results, since, as the upholders of the Torah become weaker, strength is thereby gained by him who has no legs to stand upon. When G‑d said to the serpent, "upon your belly shall you crawl", (Genesis 3:14) the serpent had his supports and legs cut off so that he was left with nothing to stand on. But when Israel neglects to support the Torah, they thereby provide the "serpent" with supports and legs on which to stand firm and upright.

…Many were the stratagems and cunning devices to which the serpent-rider resorted on that night against Jacob, for he well knew that "the voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau" (Genesis 27:22), so that whenever the voice of Jacob is interrupted, the hands of Esau are reinforced. He therefore attempted in every possible way to interrupt Jacob’s voice, but he found him strong on all sides, his arms strong on both sides and firmly upheld between them, and the Torah firmly entrenched therein.

...when he saw that he could not strike at the Torah itself, he weakened the power of its upholders...

Seeing, therefore, that he could not prevail against him, he "touched his hip bone." For he knew that when the supports of the Torah are broken, the Torah itself is shaken… His whole purpose in contending with Jacob was to break the force of the Torah, and when he saw that he could not strike at the Torah itself, he weakened the power of its upholders; for without upholders of the Torah there will be no "voice of Jacob", and the hands of Esau will operate freely.

Upon seeing this, Jacob, seized hold of him, as soon as day broke, and did not let him go, so that he blessed him and confirmed to him those blessings, and said to him: "Your name shall be called no more Jacob (supplanter) but Israel (princehood and strength) so that no one can prevail against you."

Now, from that serpent issue numerous hosts which disperse themselves on every side to prowl about the world. It is incumbent, therefore, upon us to preserve in a complete state the sinew of the thigh-vein, for although the serpent-rider touched it, it retained its vitality, and we require its strength to establish ourselves in the world and to make good the words: "For you have battled with G‑d and with men, and have prevailed." When the adversary sees that that part is not broken or consumed, his own strength and courage is broken and he can no more do any harm to the sons of Jacob. (Zohar, I 171a)

The words of the Zohar speak for themselves. They tell us in no uncertain terms that we must stand firm against any voice and challenge (including economic conditions) that argues against supporting (or weakening our support of) good causes. By succumbing to these challenges we actually feed the destructive forces that want to undermine the foundations that keep us standing. The "serpent" takes on many forms and issues many forces, including economic conditions, "which disperse themselves on every side to prowl about the world." And when it cannot attack our source of life itself, it attacks its supporters.

The "serpent" takes on many forms and issues many forces, including economic conditions...

Jacob’s determination teaches us and gives us the power to overcome these challenges, to battle and prevail over these forces, and actually transform them into blessings.

The Zohar this week is declaring loud and clear: Do not be deceived by the attempts of the "stranger" (in all his shapes and forms) to weaken your resolve and commitment to support your good causes. We must forge ahead with faith and trust.

Indeed, the mere fact that we take upon ourselves positive resolutions to continue giving and actually increase in giving despite these more difficult times, opens up the channels of blessings, including new channels, that will nourish our efforts and produce blessings in material abundance.

May we all be blessed to fight like Jacob and prevail over all doubts, anxieties and fears. And just as Jacob prevailed in his battle 3578 years ago, and we his children are here to tell about it, so too we are confident that we will prevail, and come out stronger than ever.

Adapted from //meaningfullife.com. Copyright The Meaningful Life Center, 2008.