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Based on Yaacov Yotzeh l’Galut: http://www.lehavin.co.il/Index.asp?ArticleID=2315&CategoryID=209&Page=1 Parashas VaYetzeh, Chumash Beraishis Jacob’s Ladder Based on Parasha U’Pishra by Rabbi Moshe Grylak By Braha Bender Ya’acov’s dream falls unto a tight-rope moment. Jacob, Ya’acov, has just become spiritual heir to his father Yitzchak (Isaac) and grandfather Avraham (Abraham). The powerful blessings that have been passed down through the generations since Avraham received them from the Almighty have been bequeathed to him. Eisav (Esau) is furious that Ya’acov has been chosen to receive these blessings, not because he wants the honor and responsibility of carrying on his ancestor’s spiritual mission, but because he lusts for the material power that is promised in service to this destiny. Now Eisav’s vengeful plans to murder Ya’acov have forced our gentle hero to flee his home and his family. He is concerned not only for his own survival, but for the future of the nation whose destiny now lives within him. He is on the run and all alone. But, of course, everyone eventually has to sleep… Mysterious Angels “And he dreamt, and behold! A ladder was set earthward and its top reached heavenward; and behold! Angels of G-d were ascending and descending on it.” (Beraishis-Genesis 28:12) Dreams might not always mean something, but this one certainly did. Yaacov had inadvertently laid his head upon the exact future spot of the Beis HaMikdash, the ultimate connecting point between the physical and spiritual worlds. Anything could happen at such a mystical power point, and anything indeed did. Yaacov’s famous ladder, angels rising and falling mysteriously amongst it’s rungs, foretold the trajectory of Jewish history. The Midrash explains: “These [angels] are the spiritual forces of the nations of the world… That the Holy One, Blessed Be He, showed Ya’acov Avinu the spiritual force of Babylonia rising seventy rungs and descending, and of Median rising fifty-two [rungs] and descending, and of Greece [rising] one hundred and descending, and of Edom (Rome) rising, and he knew not how much. At that hour Ya’acov Avinu felt apprehensive and said: ‘What if for this [Edom] there is no descent?’ The Holy One, Blessed Be He, told him: ‘…Do not fear, My servant Jacob…and do not be afraid’ (Yirmiya-Jeremiah 30:10) Even if you saw him rising until he reached Me, from there I will lower him! As it says: ‘Even if you raise [your nest] like an eagle or if you place your nest among the stars, I will bring you down from there…’ (Ovadiah-Obadiah 1:4).” Straight to the heart of Ya’acov’s concerns spoke the prophetic dream, arising like a phoenix from Ya’acov’s shattered peace. The entire future of Jewish history was held in its hands. Rome Rising World history sees nations rise and nations fall. Only one eternal people have withstood the cataclysms of time, the people chosen to bear the name of the Almighty. As representatives of His purpose, as bearers of His Torah, the Jewish nation has been subjected to every manner of execution and torture yet we have not died. We have not assimilated into the one-way mirror of generic humanity. We have at all times and in all places lived to tell the tale. How? Through the greatness of the One Who loves us. Through the greatness of the task that lives in our blood, in our souls: the modeling of relationship, relationship with the Holy One, and, through that lens, with all of His creations. We have learned compassion through suffering as nothing else can teach it, and we bear this lesson to this day. With no nation will you find as much and as persistent an idealism and an essential, unquenchable human caring as with the Jews who live in congruence with Torah, in congruence with their own essence. What Ya’acov saw on that tumultuous, prophetic night was that all other world-dominant cultures will rise and fall, rise and fall, yet the Jews will be broken by nothing. Even that most tenacious of world cultures, the modern Western identity symbolized by Rome, will yet fall. Yet while all other dominant cultures eventually destroyed themselves in their own hedonistic fevers, Rome will not fall in a similar self-triggered implosion. Instead, said the Almighty to Ya’acov, Rome may indeed rise until there is no alternative but the Almighty Himself. It will be at that point, the point when all physical notions have been satiated to a numbing absolute, that Rome will fall. Perhaps only when the threadbare emptiness of its kingship has been made plain by virtue of its having nothing left to fight for, when it has reached, so to speak, the heights of G-d Himself, will it be proven bald-faced in comparison to G-d. It’s ideals will not be shattered, but suddenly be shown as having been meaningless all along. Meaningless compared with the truth that Ya’acov now represented. Meaningless and empty, as long as they do not possess the soul that Ya’acov embodied and would yet father into a people as numerous and luminous as the stars. No, Eisav would not murder Ya’acov, not now and not ever: “Behold, I am with you; I will guard you wherever you go…” The Almighty Himself, in the image of angels rising and descending a heavenly ladder, promised that to all of us.


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