What do we run away from when we run away?
We do not always have the fortitude, the wisdom, or the strength to confront those or those things that confront us or frighten us. Sometimes it is hard for us to recognize it, but it happens. How much more when who we cannot face is ourselves?
Facing our own shortcomings, our own mistakes, our own handicaps is the hardest part. If those own characteristics what they did was hurt, or separate or antagonize others ... many times we need an even greater internal force (or sometimes help from an external force) to face or recognize it.
It was no different with Yaakov Avinu.
We know who Yaakov was until now. A person who sought to outdo whoever was in front of him. At his birth, pulling his brother's foot, according to the midrash, to try to get out first. Also with Esav in the purchase of the birthright for a lentil stew. Also beating his uncle Laban in the distribution of cattle.
Sometimes he was successful, other times he had to hide, escape or submit to the designs of whoever deceived him ...
Everything changes when he faces the Creator's envoy in his dream.
It was a dream? A moment of deep reflection? Who is this envoy?
And what fight was the one in which someone who comes from the hand of the Kadosh Baruch Hu? Or better yet, what fight is the one in which the supposed winner is the one who is affected with a chronic limp and the loser is the one who leaves unscathed?
Yaakov had a lot to contend with. If the time was coming to change, to settle down to form the family that should be and above all to meet again with his ghosts regarding his own brother whom he had cheated repeatedly, SOMETHING had to change.
The change was looking inside. It was to confront himself and not come out unscathed. But above all else, the prize, the trophy of that fight, did not have to do with who won it, but with who fought it and against whom. Just deciding to face yourself is in itself a fight won.
The Creator's envoy made it very clear: Vayomer: lo Yaakov yeamer od shimchah, ki im Israel, ki sarita im Elohim veim anashim vetuchal. (And the angel said to him: 'Your name will no longer be called Yaakov, but Israel; for you fought with G-d and with men and prevailed' (Bereshit 32, 29).
If we read it better, Israel's name was earned for having fought, "ki sarita" and for having prevailed, "vetuchal." Not because he was the winner.
That is the challenge.
Do not get carried away by apathy or comfort. But to face ourselves and our dark or gray places. In this confrontation, trying to improve ourselves and be better neighbors, neighbors, citizens, members of the Community whatever, is where a priori we are winners, by the mere fact of seeking to improve ourselves and dare to face what internally we know that we must change inside each one of us.