February 1, 2017, Los Angeles, Ca, USA
קָטֹ֜נְתִּי מִכֹּ֤ל הַחֲסָדִים֙ וּמִכׇּל־הָ֣אֱמֶ֔ת אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשִׂ֖יתָ אֶת־עַבְדֶּ֑ךָ כִּ֣י בְמַקְלִ֗י עָבַ֙רְתִּי֙ אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֣ן הַזֶּ֔ה וְעַתָּ֥ה הָיִ֖יתִי לִשְׁנֵ֥י מַחֲנֽוֹת׃
Father Jacob, our patriarch, father of the twelve tribes of Israel. A great man, a humble man. A man of peace, a man of war. A man who "wrestled with God and with man". A man still remembered well over 3,000 years after his physical demise.
He had a very humble start. He was tricked, abused, over worked, deceived. He began as a simple shepherd but rose to great wealth. And now he is about to confront great danger. He calls out to God, I am but very small, you have graced me with so much, for I crossed over this river with nothing but my stick and now I have grown to two great camps. (Genesis, chapter 32, verse 11)
Humility, I am but very small and unworthy of all the greatness you have bestowed upon me. In greatness, in success, we remember that we all crossed the river with just a stick. Remember your first job interview? Remember when you were just starting out and had nothing but hope and desire? Remember when you were a white belt nervously entering the dojo?
For I crossed the Jordan River with my stick and now I am two large camps but I remember that I am still small. And I still need you for I have not grown so arrogant to think that I am unbeatable, to think that I am all powerful. I am the same Jacob, your humble servant.
This is who we are, and we must keep that mental image, never forget where we came from, never forget who we are. Keep that shepherd's stick.
Never let success go to your head. For with my shepherds' stick I crossed the Jordan River....
Everything we have can be washed away in a moment of rage, we have seen our world collapse before, Save me, for I am very small and without your guidance I am nothing. All that we hold dear can disappear in a moment.
And Father Jacob, with his middle eastern garb and sandals, is still crossing the river.
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Original artwork by Arie Katz, depicts ancient Jewish warrior with bow walking through Judea.