In Jacob's dream (Gen. 28:12), why did the angels need to use a ladder to go to and from heaven?
The ladder was symbolic; Ibn Ezra points out that "sulam" (ladder) is an anagram of "semel" (symbol). It represents the fact that G-d sends His messengers to the world to make His wishes known. The commentators point out that if Jacob had actually seen the angels, they would have been "going down and coming up" rather than "going up and coming down", since they would have been coming down from heaven and then returning there.
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