This week’s Parasha begins with a famous, mystical dream. You remember don’t you?
Jacob is about to begin the journey that will define his life. He leaves his home and family. He camps for a night and there dreams of a ladder that stretches to the heavens with angels of God going up and down it. God speaks directly to Jacob and blesses him there. (Gen. 12-15).
I read a beautiful teaching of the Chafetz Chayim who states that the ladder in Jacob’s dream is a metaphor for life.
Every person is on a ladder. Throughout life’s journey, we each have the ability to move up or down. Some rungs of the ladder may be less sturdy than others and sometimes if we remain too long on a particular rung, it may weaken and break, taking us down a step. So, we must keep climbing.
Ladders may feel wobbly at times. We may sometimes need the help of family and friends to keep our ladder steady. We are meant to live our lives ever growing, moving onward and upward. As we climb higher, we hopefully achieve a greater perspective on life. As we climb higher we grow in knowledge, wisdom and understanding.
The most striking thing to me about Jacob’s dream is the place from which God speaks to Jacob and blesses him. God does not speak down to Jacob from the top of the ladder or from the distant heavens. God speaks to Jacob standing right by his side.
It is important, as we go through life’s journey, to realize that we are never alone. Jacob was at the base of the ladder. He was not even on it. Yet, God was with him.
Jacob, one of our great Patriarchs did not realize that God was in that place. (Gen. 28.16) How challenging, therefore, must it be for us to see God’s involvement in our daily lives? Yet, we are assured that God is with us. Sometimes it is easier to see than at other times.
If this is one of those challenging times for you, may you soon find meaning and purpose in the challenge, rise to it and convert any challenge into an opportunity.
May your ladder stretch to the heavens. May you have the loving support of family and friends keeping your ladder steady. May you see God’s goodness on your journey onward and upward.
This Shabbat we learn with Rabbi Jason Miller as part of a full SYNergy weekend experience. Rabbi Miller tells me that we will “…be looking at the themes of Death, Deception, Dreams, Name Changing, Family & Marriage that are at the focus of Parashat Vayeitzei. Jacob dreams of angels going up and down a ladder and then God blesses him before changing his name. In his dream, Jacob sees messengers of God climbing up to heaven and back down to earth, the scene of the beautiful rendering on our Aron Hakodesh (Torah ark) at Adat Shalom. We’ll discuss why the angels first go up to heaven as well as how Jacob’s name change to Israel is a significant event not only in the Torah narrative but in the history of the Jewish people.”
9:45 a.m. Come as you are. Stay as long as you like.