LIFELINE TO GOD
By the CyberRav—Rabbi Rafi Rank
Ever stop to think just how small we are given the entire scope of the universe? Here are the stats: our solar system—that is our sun and its planets—is 42 trillion, 700 billion times smaller than the entire universe. Of course, the sun is smaller than the solar system, the earth smaller than the sun, and each individual human far smaller than the earth. So given the entire size of the universe, a human being is essentially reduced to a microscopic speck of dust, and that definition itself may be overly-generous.
That is why the description of Jacob’s dream on his first night of flight from the family is so fantastic. He is, as we all are, a speck of dust in the universe, yet his dream connects him with the Lord of the universe. Running all day from a brother who wants to kill him, night falls upon a very exhausted, drained, fearful, alone, and lonely Jacob. But there is a power in Jacob of which he himself is perhaps unaware. He lies on the ground, rests his head on some stones, closes his eyes, and dreams of a ladder secure in the earth but whose reach penetrates the very heavens. Like a lone astronaut floating in the darkness of space, he is suddenly tethered to the mother ship.
Uprooted from his family, God reassures Jacob that the very land on which he lies is his home. Jacob’s hopes for the future dashed, God tells him that he will someday head a family whose descendants will cover the earth. Moreover, in spite of Jacob’s acute loneliness at this time, God will always be with him.
We read that the angels of God ascended and descended on that ladder. And the rabbis ask, why would the text read ascending first—must not the angels first descend from heaven before they ascend? And the rabbis answer that the angels first ascend because to be sure, Jacob fled from home with angels of protection running with him. At night fall, the angels on duty retire—they ascend back to heaven—and are replaced with new ones who descend from heaven.
Some people get lucky, you may think, and garner God’s blessings for unknown reasons. Maybe that’s true. But this narrative teaches us that the question is never do angels travel with us, but whether we recognize them at our side. Let’s put it in more contemporary terms—Jacob’s ladder is the ladder of anyone bold enough to seek God, courageous enough to access the untapped divine energy that surrounds us, and energy that can heal us and guide us even in our most desperate moments.
This is Rafi Rank, the CyberRav, wishing you a Shabbat Shalom, and encouraging you to spread a little aural Torah around your Cyber community!
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