Never stop ascending!

No matter how much you have studied, there is more.

Danny Ginsbourg

Judaism Torah reading
Torah reading

We read in our parsha:(28:10-12)’And Yaakov departed from Beer-sheva and went towards Haran; He encountered the place and spent the night there..; And he dreamt, and behold! A ladder was set earthward and its top reached heavenward; and behold! angels of G-d were ascending and descending on it’.

Rashi comments on the words:’and (he) spent the night there’: There he slept, but in the preceding fourteen years, in the Beit Midrash of Ever, he did not sleep, but learned Torah throughout the night.

Rav Nebenzahl asks: What was the purpose of this dream?And, was there a connection between the fourteen continuous years of Torah study, and the prophetic vision that was revealed to Yaakov Avinu, immediately thereafter?

And he answers, proffering an original interpretation of the wondrous vision: Hashem showed Yaakov Avinu, in this dream, that there are many steps in ascending the ladder of the Torah; true, in your fourteen years of continuous study, you ascended to great heights, just like the ascending angels, but there is no ‘end’ to this ascent. Even you, Yaakov Avinu, the paradigm ‘dweller in the tents of Torah’, have to keep ascending, like the ascending angels.

Because, as we see from the descending angels, one can also descend on this same ladder, and far more rapidly than ascending, as ascending  requires great effort, but descent occurs ‘effortlessly’.

Concludes Rav Nebenzahl: From the continuation of the narrative, we learn that Yaakov Avinu clearly understood the ‘message’, as, on waking, he immediately took an oath to intensify his avodat Hashem, and to ‘continue ascending’.

Our Sages teach us that this was, in fact, Yaakov Avinu’s testament to all of us, his descendants. They expound homiletically on the words of the beautiful blessing of Hamalach Hagoel Oti: (Vayechi 48:16):’May they proliferate abundantly like the fish within the land’, as: ‘Just as fish, though they live in the water, rise hungrily towards the surface, whenever a drop of rain falls, as if they had never tasted water in their lives; so too, Israel, though they live in the ‘Sea of Torah’, whenever they hear a new word of Torah, receive it as if they had never heard a word of Torah, in their lives’.

And, in return for our never-ending quest to learn Torah, our Sages promise (Eruvin 54:) that Hashem will reveal to us, each and every day, a new insight into His holy Torah.

And surely there can be no greater gift than this, to the descendants of Yaakov Avinu!