Va’yeitzei - Connecting Heaven and Earth
The Torah portion of parashat Vayeitze, “And he (Yaakov) went out,” begins in Gen. Ch.28:10. In the beginning of the portion, the patriarch Yaakov falls asleep and dreams of a ladder which was set upon the earth, but which reached into heaven. Hashem Himself stood over him at the top of the ladder. Verse 28:12 tells us that “angels of Hashem were ascending and descending upon it.” That may be an easier way to translate the words, but actually, there is a deeper level of understanding of the significance of these words. In Hebrew the verse states that the angels were ascending and descending bo, which can be understood not only to mean ‘on the ladder,’ but literally, ‘in him.’ Meaning, the angels were ascending and descending bo, in him... through Yaakov himself! As the holy book ‘Nefesh HaChaim’ by Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin explains, Yaakov himself was the ladder! He was a connector between heaven and earth. His life’s mission was for his own life to be a conduit to bring Hashem’s light into this world. On this level, the verse is alluding to the idea that he himself, through his deeds, was a ladder to heaven! Because the truly righteous are not removed from this world; they are very much a part of this world, firmly planted on the ground, but the far-reaching influence and consequences of their everyday actions, their good deeds and faith, connect heaven and earth and help to fill the world with the light of Hashem’s presence.