Allows Us to Endure?
Yakov dreamt, and behold a ladder was set earthward and its top was reaching
heavenward; and behold, angels of G-d were ascending and descending on it. And
G-d was standing over him (Yakov) and G-d said, “I am G-d, the G-d of Avraham
and G-d of Yitzchak. The ground upon which you are lying, to you I will give it
and to your descendants” (Gen. 28 V.12-13).
prophecy took place as Yakov was leaving the borders of Israel and entering the
borders of Charan (he was entering
Charan for the purpose of finding a wife). G-d also showed him in this
prophecy the borders of Israel which his children would eventually inherit. The
ladder symbolized several things, amongst them, that his descendants would one
day receive the Torah at Sinai, and they would one day serve in the Temple.
does it mean that G-d was standing over him, and why at this particular time did
Yakov merit to receive this detailed prophecy of the future?
this point in his life, Yakov was at a crossroads. Until now he had been living
in the shadow of the Torah. Until age sixty three, he had lived at home where he
was called “a man who dwelled in the tents” (referring to the tents of Torah
study). After he was forced to run away, due to fear of being killed by Esav, he
stayed in the school of Shem and Ever for fourteen years. Their school was the
first devoted to the study of G-d’s laws (these were the laws handed down
orally from Noach).
Yakov was entering a different period of life. It was a period fraught
with the unknown. Yakov had a fear of leaving the tents of Torah study, of the
study of G-d to enter what is known as the “real world”. The rest of
Yakov’s life would be filled with difficulties. These next few years would be
particularly hard, when Yakov would be forced to deal with the unscrupulous
Lavan and constantly struggle just to support his family. Yakov was frightened;
now that he was leaving the comfort of Torah study, would he still have his
relationship with G-d?
is at this point that G-d appears to him to reassure him. It is not that Yakov
is leaving his study of G-d to enter the real world, but it is precisely the
study of G-d’s laws that are the
real world. And G-d is showing him, that although the angels that accompanied
you in Israel are leaving you, different angels will now accompany you, and the
ultimate goals, the goal of fathering children who will be the forerunners of a
people who are devoted to G-d , a people who will one day receive the Torah and
be a beacon of light to the world, are still as viable as ever. Yakov was now
leaving the real world, and entering into exile.
reason Yakov was able to endure all the future hardships of this exile was
precisely his study of the Torah. That is what enabled him to be the man he was.
when Yakov awakens the next morning he says: “G-d is present in this place,
and I did not know!” He did not know that G-d would still be with him,
as he had been with him until now, and he understood that he only merited this
close relationship with G-d because of the Torah he had studied.
Jewish people and the entire world are at a critical juncture right now. We hope
and pray that America does not acquiesce to the evil wishes of the Arab world,
and betray Israel. It would serve us well to remember our forefather Yakov and
remember what it was that allowed him to go on in his exile, and what will allow
us to go forward in ours: devotion to G-d’s law.
Rabbi Jay Spero is the rabbi of the Saranac Synagogue in Buffalo.