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27.11.2017 19:08    Comments: 0    Categories: Weekly Parashah      Tags: torah  shabbat  parashah  rabbi  dr eytan cowen  

The Rabbi's Corner
Words of Torah to Get Us Through Our Week

Growth in the Real World

One of the focal points of our Parasha this week is the dream that Yaakov Avinu beholds as he sleeps on the holy ground of what was to become the site of the Beit HaMikdash. “He dreamed that there was a ladder going from the ground up to the Heavens with Mal’achim (angels) going up and down the ladder.”  One interpretation of this dream is that it symbolizes spiritual growth, which should be taken one step at a time: ketzat, ketzat (little by little). Also, the fact that the ladder is rooted on the ground but the top reaches the Heavens symbolizes that we as religious Jews should know that even though our feet are on the ground, our head and our minds should be focused on Hashem and spirituality.

Rabbi Yissachar Frand asks: "What is the significance of the ladder?" The Baal HaTurim points out that the Hebrew word for ladder, sulam, has the same numeric value as the Hebrew word for money, mamon. The image of the ladder is supposed to send a message to Yaakov that he is going through a major transition. In the house of his father, he sat and learned. He established a reputation as an “ish tam yoshev ohalim” – a whole-hearted man, who sits in the tents (of learning). He had no financial worries. He lived a life devoted to spiritual growth and self-improvement. Now he was going into the “real world”, one that would not be as cloistered. He is going to need to deal with Lavan, the quintessential con-man.

The message is that Yaakov’s success in the “real world” would hinge on how he would deal with the issue that stays with us for most of our adult lives – supporting ourselves and our families. This issue can overtake a person and upset him and his spiritual goals in life.

Life is like this ladder – there can be tremendous ascent and tremendous descent. It is not inevitable that when one leaves Yeshiva, everything spiritual may be “down-hill from now on.” On the contrary, a person can grow through challenge and adversity. If a person can cope with those difficulties and grow under those situations, then he can ascend rather than descend. He can rise from the ground to the heaven! If on the other hand, he allows the challenges of earning a living to consume him, then a person can suffer serious spiritual descent.

May we all go through life with the goal not only to help those of us in need, but also to be aware and act in the most discreet way to avoid any embarrassment to them. May we also be sensitive enough to reach another Jew in need even though we don't know them because we all one family of the Jewish nation.


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