In order to escape the anger of his brother Esau,Jacob set out on a long journey to a distant land. On his first night away from home, he fell asleep on the hard ground and dreamed of a ladder reaching to heaven.
What sustained Jacob during the many trying years before he was able to return home? Our sages say that it was that first night’s vision of the ladder which constantly inspired him and gave him hope for the future.
One of our early rabbis suggests that the Torah’s phrase “a ladder set upon the earth” signified to Jacob that he was to plant his feet solidly on the earth and attend to the demanding affairs of daily living. To realize that life is filled with challenges, and that the most immediate task we face is to summon the strength and wisdom to deal with those challenges.
But there is the other phrase: “the top of the ladder reached to heaven.” Our sages tell us that this implied that Jacob’s hope and vision were always to be lifted toward the inspiration of God in Heaven. In other words,Jacob was yet capable of living in such a way that his hopes and visions were always to be lifted toward the inspiration of God.
So for us. On our journey through life, may we benefit from the wisdom of Jacob’s dream. May we face our challenges with strength and resolve, while our eyes ever seek the vision and inspiration of Heaven. Just as Jacob was always seeking to live that which is noble and worthy,so may we persist in the quest to develop our fullest potential, no matter our stage of life.
Rabbi David Greenberg