Jacob’s Will
The last parsha of the Book of Bereishis-Genesis chronicles Jacob’s final words to his twelve sons in which he gave them a message that foreshadows the future Messianic Era.
Before his “passing,” )According to our Talmudic Sages, Jacob never died) the Torah relates that Jacob calls his sons and says to them,
“Gather and I will tell you what will happen to you in the end of days. Gather and listen sons of Jacob and listen to your father Israel.
There are two obvious questions here:
Why does Jacob repeat the summons for his sons to listen to him and why does he change himself from Jacob to Israel?
The following analysis is based partially on the work Likkutei Reb Moshe Yaakov,.
An Enigmatic Midrash
On the foregoing verse the Midrash comments:
“When Jacob sought to reveal the end the Holy One blessed him.  He said to him, your name shall no longer be said to be Jacob but Israel shall be your name.”
What connection does G‑d changing Jacob’s name to Israel have with divulging the end of days?
Furthermore, if anything, our verse appears to contradict the statement that his name shall no longer be Jacob but Israel. Here the name Jacob is actually mentioned first!
Two Scenarios for Moshiach
The answer to these questions lies in the two scenarios the Talmud gives for the coming of Moshiach. The Talmud cites the Biblical verse in the Book of Isaiah that Moshiach will come, “In its time, I shall hasten it.” The Talmud notes the obvious discrepancy in this verse; if Moshiach will come in its designated time, how is it that it will be hastened, which implies that the time for the Redemption is not fixed but can be accelerated.
The Talmud’s response is that there are, in fact, two different scenarios for the coming of Moshiach. If the people are not deserving he will still come but at a designated time. If, however, we are meritorious he will come sooner; G‑d will hasten it.
The Talmud states that these scenarios for the coming of Moshiach will also determine the manner that the Redemption materializes:
“If Moshiach will come when we are not deserving, he will come as a ’poor man riding on a donkey.’ If, however, he comes sooner because we merit it he will appear on a heavenly cloud.”
In other words, Moshiach’s coming can either be the result of a natural process or a miraculous one. This will depend on our worthiness.
These two scenarios are represented by the two names of the Patriarch. When the Jewish people do not deserve his coming, they are called by the name Yaakov, which derives from the word for heel, because they are at a low point in their spiritual life.
When, however, we are meritorious, we are called Israel, which derives from the word for master and head. When that is so, the Redemption will not only be hastened but occur in a most glorious and miraculous fashion.
Jacob’s Two Messages
This then is what Jacob was telling his sons:
“Gather and listen sons of Jacob.” At first Jacob invoked the pessimistic scenario of a natural and a rather unremarkable Redemption. This was the “Jacob” scenario. There is still a powerful positive message for us in this: regardless of our behavior G‑d has promised that He would take us out of exile at the appointed time. Jacob wanted his sons to know that they should never give up hope and fall into despair that they will never merit the Redemption.
But Jacob did not stop there. He continued, “and listen to your father Israel.” His message suggested that there is another, happier scenario. But only if the Jewish people behave like an Israel, one who is master of his life and practices Judaism proudly.
“Sons of Jacob” Versus “Your Father Israel”
With this introduction, we can also understand another difference in Jacob’s two messages.
When he speaks to the “sons of Jacob” he refers to them as his sons, whereas in the second part of the verse he says, “and listen to your father Israel,” rather than “the sons of Israel.” Why does Jacob use inconsistent language?  Why not either say “sons of Jacob” and “sons of Israel,” or “your father Jacob” along with “your father Israel?”
We know now that Jacob is referring to two different possibilities for the Redemption, which is key to understanding the changed language.
When addressing the Jewish people as they dwell in a pitiful and compromised state he refers to them as the “sons of Jacob.” This suggests that they are stuck in a weaker Jacob-state. Moreover, they are even below the level of Jacob, for they are but his children, who come behind him, not just chronologically, but also spiritually.
Conversely, when Jacob speaks to the sophisticated state of the Jewish people, calling them Israel, he refers to them as those who will listen to their father Israel, which means that they look up and aspire to the merit of their father Israel. 
Two People On a Ladder
The lesson here is that even if we are on a lower level, when we aspire to a higher level we will identify with it. This lesson is based on the Ba’al Shem Tov’s teaching that a person is where his will is directed. If our will is directed towards our father Israel, and all that he represents, we are considered to be there even if we have not yet become “Israels.”
A wise person once asked the question: when two people are on a ladder with one at the bottom rung and the other is on the top rung which is closer to the top?
The answer he gave is that it depends on which direction they are going.
If we aspire to go up, even if we are on the bottom rung, we are sons of Jacob and are considered to be near the top. If, however, we look downward when we are close to the top of the ladder, we are considered to be on the low ground.
Bilam’s Prophecy
We can find a parallel to these two scenarios in the blessings of the heathen prophet Bilam, but with one important caveat. The names Jacob and Israel are reversed. Jacob is used in the higher scenario and Israel for the inferior one.
The following is taken from the great Sephardic commentary, the Or Hachaim, who explains this anomaly.
Bilam prophesied:
I see it, but not now; I view it, but it is not near. A star has issued from Jacob and a scepter-bearer has arisen from Israel…
The Or Hachaim explains that the words “star from Jacob” refers to the more elevated scenario.  Just as the stars are high up in the heavens, so will the Redemption come in a spectacularly, miraculous and heavenly fashion.
The second part of the verse, which speaks of a scepter-bearer “arisen from Israel” refers to the natural scenario for the advent of Redemption.
The Or Hachaim goes on to explain why it uses the name Jacob for the higher scenario and the more sublime name Israel for the less dramatic scenario.
When the Redemption comes only in the merit of the spiritually elite Jews, the “Israels” of the Jewish people, the great tzadikkim, but does not include the Jacobs, the average Jews, that will be a sad commentary on the state of the Jewish nation. In this case the Redemption will have to wait for the designated time and come in a natural-seeming manner.
However, if the Redemption comes when the Jacobs of the Jewish people, the average Jews, shine brightly like a star, it will be a phenomenal and miraculous Redemption.
This commentary of the Or Hachaim sheds light on the role of the average Jew. Even the Jacob Jew, the so-called heel of a Jew, is capable of bringing and hastening the final Redemption.
Resolving the Anomalous Verse in Bilam’s Prophecy
In light of the earlier commentary, that one’s status depends on the direction he or she is focused, we can find an alternate way to resolve the perplexing reversal of the names in relation to the two scenarios. 
In the first part of the verse, where Bilam speaks about a “star going forth from Jacob” he uses the name Jacob, because he is referring to one whose star comes from Jacob. This tells us that we can allow the stellar level to emerge from us, despite our lowly station in life as “mere” Jacobs. The star has become an integral part of us because our hearts and souls are directed towards, and obsessed with, the star. While we might be situated on the ground our head is directed heavenwards. We are then considered as if we are on the stars.
Conversely, there are those who may be perched on a high level, the “Israels,” but fail to see their stars; all they can see are the scepters. They are restricted to seeing a natural and conventional path to Redemption from exile. They have taken their lofty Israel status and squandered it on the world of nature, thereby transforming an otherwise glorious path to Redemption to a rather ordinary one. While they may be on the top rung their gaze is earthward.
How do we change our focus and redirect our gaze heavenward?
The answer is simple yet elegant: study Torah.
Torah has the capacity to transform our mindset. The Rebbe taught us that Torah study, particularly the study of Chassidus and, more specifically, the study of Redemption, has the capacity to alter our Galus mindset. Likewise, it may be suggested that Torah study can also change our limited and lower approach to Redemption, the so-called scepter mode, into a brilliant star mode.