Table Talk II: Vayeitzei
Measured By Dreams: My grandfather, Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak Ruderman zt”l would often say to students who were leaving Yeshiva in order to work: “How did Jacob know that it
was time for him to leave Laban’s house?” He answered, “When Jacob first left home, he dreamed of ladders rising from earth to heaven, with angels climbing up and down. However, once he began dreaming of sheep, he understood that the very nature of his dreams had changed. That is how he knew that it was time for him to leave. A person can evaluate his spiritual growth by whether he dreams of spiritual accomplishments or of physical wealth. If he finds himself dreaming of the latter, he knows that he must refocus himself on his learning and service of God.” We should use this Shabbat to ask ourselves: “Of what are we dreaming?”
Time to Backtrack? Or, Perhaps, Not!
The Dor Revii (Chullin 91b) has a different reading of a famous story: Jacob had almost arrived in Haran, when he realized that he had passed Mt. Moriah without stopping to pray. “Is it possible that I will pass the place where Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac, and Isaac was willing to die for God, and not stop there to pray?” He immediately set his mind to return to Mt. Moriah and God folded the earth underneath Jacob, so he reached there in one single step. The Dor Revii says that Yaakov did not make up his mind to return to Moriah, but to Yeshiva! “Is it possible that I would pass such a place without stopping to pray? Look at what happens when one leaves Yeshiva!” He immediately made up his mind to return to Yeshiva. God folded the earth underneath Jacob, so he would not return to Yeshiva but to Moriah. God then taught Yaakov through the dream of the ladder that one cannot hide in Yeshiva. One must be a climber. One must learn how to live in the world and still climb up the spiritual ladder to the Highest heavens.
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