Oct. 13, 2020

Rabbi Erica Gerson on Genesis 32 – “Wrestling With God: The Essence of Being Jewish”

Welcome to the 70th episode of the Rabbi’s Husband podcast, a significant milestone, particularly as 70 is the Jewish number of completion. And, although the podcast is far from complete, such a special occasion does deserve an equally special guest, so today Mark is delighted to welcome his favorite guest of all time, the Rabbi herself, Mark’s wife Rabbi Erica Gerson. The passage that Erica has chosen to discuss today is one that she absolutely loves, Genesis 32.

Erica begins by sharing her reason for choosing this passage as well as an extensive summary of it, and the significance of Jacob having his name changed within it. She and Mark go on to examine the fact that Jacob continues to be referred to by both names, how that relates to the many identities that each of us hold throughout our lives, and the importance of wrestling a blessing out of a struggle as well as continually wrestling with God. Erica also discusses the lessons she has learned through her deep engagement with Christians over the past two decades that leads to a further discussion about being truly open to the call of God, and walking in His ways. Today’s episode is no less than a contemplation on what it means to be a good Jew, providing further insight into the eternal wisdom and guidance of the greatest book ever written.

Episode Highlights:

  • Erica’s reason for selecting this passage
  • Her summary of the story
  • The significance of Jacob having his name changed
  • Jacob being referred to by both names
  • The many identities that people have in their lives
  • Wrestling a blessing out of a struggle
  • Wrestling with God
  • The lessons about humankind that Erica has learned over the past 13 years of engaging deeply with Christians
  • Being truly open to the call of God
  • Walking in God’s ways


“I think it’s really the essence of what it is to be Jewish.”

“I just love that our name is Yisra'el - the people who wrestle with God.”

“A Jew does not leave a struggle without a blessing.”

“This is his moment of transformation.”

“This blessing is that he’s learning to stop running.”

“He got the ultimate blessing – he was able to transform himself.”

“We can transform, we can reach a new stage in our development, but what happened and who we were before is always with us.”

“Everyone has these multiple facets to their personality.”

“We acknowledge the pain that it brings, but we still find a way to also find the blessing.”

“As long as you’re still wrestling, you’re doing the right thing.”

“God loves every argument.”

“We have the inheritance of this mantle that we are to wrestle with God, and that’s what it means to be a good Jew.”

“It’s been a really life-changing experience to get to know Christian medical missionaries who have dedicated their lives to serving the African poor.”

“You can have meaningful holy ground where you overlap with people and can be in service, and it doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything.”

“There are blessings in our everyday life because of the interactions that we come to in the way that we - well, for them, that they bless the Jewish people - but, for me, in the way I can interact with them and also do God’s will.”

“There’s nothing abstract about faith. It’s all very personal and very practical.”

“It’s a blessing to be married to you, and to have such friends that we’ve been able to bring into our home together.”

Genesis 32 - https://www.sefaria.org/Genesis.32.1-33?lang=en&with=all&lang2=en


The Rabbi’s Husband homepage: http://therabbishusband.com/

Mark’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/markgerson?lang=en

For More Information About African Mission Healthcare and to Donate visit: https://africanmissionhealthcare.org/donation/gerson-ubs-matching/