Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Vayeitzei

Rabbi Label Lam

What’s a Meta-phor?

And he dreamt, and behold a ladder was standing towards the earth and its head was striving towards the heavens and angels of Elokim were going up and down on it. And behold Hashem is standing upon it… (Bereishis 28:12-13)

Why was Jacob given a picture of a ladder as a parting vision, before marching off to a prolonged exile? How does that ladder offer comfort, consolation, or guidance to the beholders of the vision?

There are many important ideas buried in the metaphor of the ladder as described in the dream.

1)There are rungs on a ladder indicating that there is a reasonable program for reaching even the loftiest goals.

2)The climber needs to know where he is at any moment maintaining a healthy tension between the “is” and the “ought”, striving for the next available rung.

3)The ladder connects two points, in this case heaven and earth. There is a continuum between the physical and spiritual realm, between the temporal and the eternal.

4)All is supervised by and emanates from The Primary Source standing firm on the top of the ladder. Everything else is in flux and is uncertain.

5)Angels going up first and then down on the ladder show that what we do here impacts and reverberates in worlds above and ripples directly to the earth below.

6)We see the ladder has traffic going either up or down but not standing still. Life is not a snap shot. It’s a moving picture. If one is not growing or climbing then by definition he is shrinking or falling.

7)Moving upward requires energy to overcome gravity. The natural tendency is to fall down. If a bird stops flapping its wings it does not remain in the same place.

8)One can measure on a ladder how far he has traveled and how far he has yet to go, gaining some encouragement while remaining humbled by the enormity of the task ahead.

9)The ladder itself is rooted neither on this earth nor planted firmly above. It is model of a bridge between worlds. This stands in contradistinction to the Tower of Babel whose builders sought to put the head of the tower permanently in the heavens while planting the building firmly on the earth. The ladder is a vehicle and cannot be institutionalized or idolized as an end in itself, disassociated from the true goal.

10)Yakov’s ladder is a vertical orientation. Free will is an “up” or “down” choice, moving closer to or further from The Almighty. When the conversation is about “left” or “right” then the field of choices we entertain are on a horizontal plane and we have somehow lost our center of self.

11)We see that some from above are falling down and others from below are striving upward. Traffic is moving in both directions. It matters less where we start on the ladder and more in which direction we are currently going.

12)The ladder reaches to the highest place. Everyone is encouraged to go to his or her highest station. The Arizal says that what knocks a person out of this world ultimately is a vision of one’s true potential.

A friend of mine who got into health food years before it was popular sat in the Yeshiva dining room mixing his green health-shake while others were layering white toast with cholesterol dense butter and drinking caffeine-packed coffee. Some strong specimen leaned over to my friend and asked him point blank, “Do you think with all that health food you’re healthier than we are?” My friend answered cleverly, “No! But I’m a lot healthier than I used to be! Climbing the ladder makes us holier than we used to be or better than we would have been had we not striven with our own unique abilities and circumstances.

Yakov’s ladder is not just an abstract idea; a vague dream but rather a profound visual tool for gaining and maintaining a powerful and enduring focus. After all what’s a meta-phor?

Good Shabbos!


Text Copyright © 1998 Rabbi Dovid Green and Project Genesis, Inc.



 






ARTICLES ON NOACH:

View Complete List

Stealing: Not For The Taking
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5767

Free Gifts for People Who Find Favor
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5767

If it Hurts, Scream!
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5758

ArtScroll

Now -A Hopeful Place
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

A World is Built!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5762

Immorality Around Us
Shlomo Katz - 5759

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Send The Guinea Pig!
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5757

What Goes Around Comes Around
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5760

Compliments -- In The Presence And Outside The Presence Of A Person
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5774

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Meaningful Speech
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5773

The Ideal Way of Life
Shlomo Katz - 5768

Out of the Darkness
Shlomo Katz - 5773

> People In Stone Houses Shouldn
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5773

The Hidden Blessing
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5766

Understanding the Faith of Noach
Rabbi Yosef Kalatsky - 5763

The Perfect Storm
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5765



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information