That night, Esau’s guardian angel wrestled with Jacob; Jacob prevailed, although the angel did succeed in dislocating his thigh. Jacob demanded that the angel bless him; so the angel informed him that G‑d was going to give him the additional name of Israel, which means “He who has wrestled with G‑d [and prevailed].”
Elevating the Material World
וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא יַעֲקֹב יֵאָמֵר עוֹד שִׁמְךָ כִּי אִם יִשְׂרָאֵל וגו': (בראשית לב:כט)
[The angel said to Jacob,] “No longer will it be said that your name is Jacob, but Israel.” Genesis 32:29

The name “Israel” did not replace Jacob’s original name but complemented it. It expressed a new, loftier status that he was now granted. Whereas “Jacob” had to struggle with Esau to secure Isaac’s blessings, these blessings were now granted to “Israel” openly by Esau’s guardian angel.

Jacob’s two names represent the two ways in which we interact with the world. Sometimes the material world or our own materialistic tendencies can get in the way of our Divine consciousness or mission in life; we must then, like “Jacob,” struggle to reveal the Divinity that underlies the material world. At other times, the world can be used as a means to enhance Divine consciousness or fulfill our Divine mission; at such times, our challenge, like “Israel,” is to use these opportunities both to bring the world to a higher level of Divine consciousness and to promote our own spiritual growth.1