Parashat Vayetze: I GOT IT MOMENTS!
What differentiates a great idea from a possible reality?
Read how and why the emblematic should find you with your feet on the ground!
This week we read Parashat “Vayetze”, one of the richest portions in the whole Torah. The most famous scene in the portion, which was artistically drawn probably hundreds of times, is “Jacob’s ladder”. At the end of Parashat ”Toldot “ Isaac blessed Jacob, who immediately ran away from his home.
10 And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran.
11And he lighted upon the place, and tarried there all night”…. “and lay down in that place to sleep.
12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
13 And, behold, Adonai stood beside him, and said: ‘I am Adonai, the God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac. The land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed.
14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south. And in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee whithersoever thou goest, and will bring thee back into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.’
This seems to be the “first contact” between Jacob and God, with the angels, the emblematic ladder and of course God’s voice being revealed to him. And then Jacob Says: Certainly God is in this place and I didn’t know it! (Gen 28:16)
This is an I GOT IT moment! You are stressed, running your routine, but at some point you relax for a moment “… and lay down in that place to sleep…” and then it happens! You succeed to visualize something that you’ve so far missed; it was in front of you all the time but somehow you couldn’t see it before.
Those are moments of joy! They can be related to whatever is for you a sublime value; it can be about your health, your family, your community, country, nation…
But dreams are dreams and many times they don’t go beyond the exaltation of visualizing them. They sound great, the look good but we don’t get to fulfil them with “contents”. Probably because we don’t know how or we don’t have the skills to reach out to them.
It is not fortuity that Jacob’s dream has a ladder with the top reaching heaven but the feet “set up on the earth”…And here is the connection between the vision and a possible reality:
16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said: Certainly God is in this place and I didn’t know it!
17 And he was afraid, and said: ‘How full of awe is this place! this is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’
“Shaar Shamaim” – Gate of heaven – is the place which separates between something that we want and something that we own. It is the tangible face of the abstract value to which we aspire. So, how does he make sure that he will get into it?
20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying: ‘If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,
21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then shall Adonai be my God,
Jacob vows a vow! A vow (in Hebrew neder – נדר) is the commitment which converts an idea into a practical duty. The dream is beautiful and elevated but the question is what we do with it after the I GOT IT moment, once we are back on earth.
How do we commit to elevated ideas? The point is not God’s revelation but Human revelation. Humanity is revealed in small deeds and deep commitments. When you first read Jacob’s vow, the (20) “if” gives us the impression that he is conditioning his devotion; but then you read (21) the next sentence with the ideal: “come back to my father’s house in peace”.
IF I keep in “this way that I go” with the help of God, which can be read as the personalization of “recognizing value” or as “inspired by a sublime idea”, and I survive the attempt while my basic needs are fulfilled THEN I will reach my ideal;
the ladder being the way, and Shaar Hashamaim – the gate of heaven, the last door you need to open in order to convert inspiration or the I GOT IT moment into transcendent.
You may be wondering – what’s the point!?
In our life we occasionally have I GOT IT moments. In these moments we tend to immediately focus on the “gate of heaven”; we feel fear of maybe losing it but for sure the opportunity is going to be missed if we don’t see the ladder.
The ideal took Jacob more than 20 years to get to; he was there, on the ladder, on the way, for a long time, but finally he did come back home in peace. His commitment changed his life, and converted him into the main Father of our people , he really got it.
All of us have I GOT IT moments. The big challenge is to recognize the ladder.
Have you taken the first step up yet?