Shabbat Nugget: The Ladder Between Heaven and Earth

In this week’s Torah portion, we read how Jacob is running away from his brother Esau who wants to kill him for stealing the firstborn blessings from Isaac.

The Torah tells us that Jacob is traveling to his Uncle Laban who lives in Charan and on the way he stops to sleep for the night.  In his sleep, he has a dream of a ladder that is standing on the earth and its top reaches the heavens and there are angels ascending and descending from this ladder.

The Zohar explains this dream to be referring to prayer which connects earth ie. the physical reality and heaven ie. spirituality and holiness.  The Zohar explains that the various rungs on the ladder refer to the various sections of our prayers to G-d and the angels descending from the ladder bring down blessings from heaven to the earth though our prayers.

This explanation would explain why Jacob had this particular dream on the way to Charan.  The word Charan means anger.  Our sages teach us that this was a place which made G-d angry because of its depraved behavior.  Also, Jacob’s uncle Laban was a thief and wicked man.  The message of the dream was, even if you are going to a place which is very low, you can build a ladder and connect it to the heavens.

Indeed Jacob ended up being very successful in Charan.  He married his wives and had eleven children in Charan who were all righteous.  He also acquired great wealth which was a symbol of his elevating the physical reality of Charan to holiness.

About Rabbi Pesach Scheiner

Rabbi Pesach Scheiner is the Rabbi of Boulder County Center for Judaism. In addition, he teaches extensively throughout Boulder County and is the author of "Finding the Joy in Everyday Living," a book of short chapters explaining the ways to access happiness through appreciation, gratitude, and a sense of purpose.

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