Behold! A Ladder of Lessons
On Yaakov’s way to Charan, he encounters “the place,” where he falls asleep for the night. He did not just chance upon any place. The verse describes an “encounter” — literally, he was struck by the place. This specific place fascinated and captivated him. Although he was deeply moved by the grandeur of the place, which was at the border of the land of his future, he nevertheless lay down and slept in this place.
In his sleep, he has a vision. In the textual description, the world “Behold!” appears three times, each time heralding a new lesson for Yaakov to learn. Behold! Yaakov envisions a ladder; a ladder which was “set up toward earth and whose top reached to heaven.” The ladder was not there by chance — it was deliberately set up from on high toward the earth. But the purpose of the ladder is not descent, but rather ascent — its top reached toward heaven. This is the first lesson of the ladder. Man’s destiny is not to be found below on earth, but should be sought from above. Everything earthly is meant to ascend to a lofty goal.
Behold! Angels of
Taken together the message of the ladder for Yaakov and all his descendants is this: Man was put on this earth with a higher purpose and he is constantly being measured and compared to the higher self of his potential. Yet, when he fails that higher calling,
- Sources: Commentary, Ber. 28:12