I’m thinking about a lesson from my friend, the Rabbi…


A short pre-Rosh HaShanah piece I shared with my congregation

Jacob’s famous dream is a vision of angels ascending and descending a ladder, touching earth while soaring to heaven.

I want to share a beautiful Chassidic teaching about this dream with you.

In typical Chassidic tradition, we are asked a question.

When is a person who is lower on the ladder
Higher than a person who is
Higher on the ladder?

The answer…….?

When the lower person is climbing up ……
and the higher person is descending down.

As in many Chassidic lessons, what sounds mysterious is really about every-day life…….

We move up, we move down, we take steps, make some progress and then have setbacks.

That’s the pattern we encounter as we pursue goals and intentions. We have days when we get closer, days when we almost meet our aspirations, and days when our dreams grow ever more elusive.

Jacob, back in our biblical story and on the run from home, spends his night tossing and turning on his pillow of stone.

We toss and turn on our memory- foam mattresses and modern feather pillows. The era changes, the human dilemmas stay the same.

The Chassidic reflection wisely points out that in our struggles, our progress is measured not only by the distance travelled but by direction chosen.

Ask yourself – Am I ‘checking out’? Am I moving forward? Am I in withdrawal? Am I resignedly headed for the door? Or, am I steadfastly holding my own, returning again and again, to deal with life’s challenges?

The angels float up AND down, remember. They represent the continuous determination and decisions needed to reach our commitments and aspirations.

We often hear:

“You are exactly where you are supposed to be”.

That may be true.

Where we choose to go next, however, Is ours to determine.

It’s a beautiful Midrash on a well-known dream.

The same angels rise and descend, just as we rise, fall back and then choose to rise again and again in pursuit of a life worth living.

I hope this gentle reading reinforces our spirits as we rise (and sometimes fall back) on the path to creating a sweet, fruitful New Year.

Shanah Tovah


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.