Commentary for Vayeitzei

9 Dec

At the beginning of this week’s parshah, Jacob has his famous dream. He dreams of a ladder that goes all the way up to Heaven, and of a constant stream of angels descending to fulfill the missions God has given to them and then ascending once again when their tasks are complete.


It is interesting to note that, by virtue of extending all the way up to heaven, this ladder is the tallest thing descried in the entire Bible. It is natural to assume that the title of tallest thing in the Bible would belong to some famous tower or palace or even a temple, but those structures are all man-made, so whatever the intentions of their builders were- even if that intention was to glorify God- their very existence serves to glorify those builders as well. The most well-known and egregious case of this is that of the Tower of Babel, in which humanity sought to build a tower to the heavens so that they could make war upon God, but even the chief artisan of the Tabernacle, Betzalel, has had his name glorified through his association with work, and it is his name that now appears on the State of Israel’s national school of art and design.


It is also interesting to note that the tallest structure described in the Bible is not even real, but rather a part of a dream. It does not exist in the material world, and therefore it can do what cannot be done in a purely material manner: reach heaven and establish a connection with God.


The tallest structure described in the entire Bible is not an ornate palace or temple, but rather it is just a simple ladder. And yet, this simple ladder is the tallest structure in the Bible because it serves the highest purpose: helping us to fulfill God’s mission. Just as it has no basis in the material world, so too must we realize that we do not need material wealth to serve God. And just as it serves purely as an avenue to glorify God, so too must we make sure that our intentions in our service to God are meant to serve God alone rather than to serve our own ends.

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