Rabbi Allan’s Message – Friday, December 2

This week, we read in the Torah about a dream – Jacob’s ladder – after Jacob flees from his parents’ home into the wilderness. He had done bad things and he had hit a spiritual bottom. Exhausted, he finds some rocks to use as a pillow, and he dreams. In it, he saw a ladder, with angels going up and down.

It is a simple story but also complex. There are entire books written about this story and thousands of sermons. I’ve written a few myself, but sometimes, the simplest understandings can teach us the most.

Jacob’s dream isn’t about whether there are angels; this is just a dream after all. Rather, the angels represent something special that we might call spirituality/ethics/morals/a higher purpose. Jacob had hit rock bottom and he needed this dream and its message about how important what I will call “spirituality” is in our lives — our ability to discern between healthy and unhealthy choices and to act in healthy and ethical/moral ways.

Our goal in theory is to do this all day, all the time. Jacob’s dream teaches us, though, that full-time spiritual living is elusive. Those angels are moving all the time, towards and away from us it seems. Then again, maybe the angels are stationary and it is us who are in motion, towards and away from our own sense of spirituality. Maybe that’s why I have good days and not-so-good days. It’s not the angels running away, it just might be me.

Living with spiritual values then becomes a choice. Jacob had that choice and the quality of his life improved dramatically. If that is the case, maybe it falls on me/us to choose a (more) spiritual life and to do the work, to chase those angels.

Shabbat shalom,   Rabbi Allan