A distinction is sometimes drawn between “Israel” and “Elder Israel.”
When we speak simply of “Israel,” of Jacob our patriarch, this refers to the actual person who lived in history.
But when we speak of “Elder Israel,” this refers to the Jacob who still lives in our midst, who still lives within each and every one of us, and thus his spiritual work devolves upon all of us as well.
In the generations before ours, the world in many respects resembled Jacob’s parental home or the house of study of Shem and Ever – a self-contained world that provided, more or less, an organic and insular life.
Nowadays, we face a world that no longer allows us to remain within our own small sphere, in the company of people who are the same as us.
We have already left our parental home, and we are beginning to see that the world is not only physically vast but also full of hatred, division, alienation, and self-destruction.
Even Jacob himself long ago ceased to be unified – the Jewish people has split into several factions, each faction continuously fragmenting internally.
This is the face of the world in which we live.
It is a world that is very intimidating and very frightening, and its demands upon us are only increasing and expanding.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz