This week’s Torah reading includes one of my favorite episodes. Jacob runs away from home after deceiving his father and “stealing” the blessing intended for his brother, Esau. Jacob flees fearing that Esau is so angry that he wants to kill him.
Night falls and Jacob is alone in the wilderness, and he has his famous dream. He sees a ladder reaching from himself on the ground up to heaven. Angels come down and touch Jacob and then ascend heavenward.
The message of the dream? “Jacob, even as you are a cheater and deceiver at this time in your life; even as you are far from worthy of becoming a patriarch of the Jewish religion, you are yet capable of arising-you are yet capable of becoming worthy of that blessing that you have stolen.”
But Jacob will have to climb that “ladder” that is life. The challenges, the disappointments, the hopes and the frustrations that we all encounter. And in that sense, I believe that there is a so-called “ladder” for each of us. A ladder that we might climb, rung by rung, with determination and perseverance that leads to the fulfillment of our hopes and goals; a ladder that leads to that “better self” that is within each of us.
God, grant each of us the strength, courage and determination that we need to climb that “ladder of life.”
Rabbi David Greenberg