In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Prov.3;6 ב”ה
“Let’s make the next few minutes last forever….”
Vayietzei : Finding Meaning in the Vision 5779
In the Torah portions read during the month of Kislev, we find most of the dreams mentioned in the Torah. Throughout the five books of the Torah, we find ten explicit dreams (dreamed by seven “dreamers”) all in the Book of Genesis. The first dream of Avimelech, King of Gerar, appears in the Torah portion of Vayeira, read in the month of Cheshvan. The other nine dreams appear in the Torah portions of Vayeitzei, Vayeishev, and Mikeitz, all read during the month of Kislev. According to the well-known Torah principle that one should “live with the times” (namely, with the weekly Torah portion), the topic of dreams would be a proper meditative subject during the month of Kislev. During this “month of dreams” one should strive to examine and clarify in one’s soul the topic of “the dream,” to plumb the depths of its roots in the soul, and to solve its riddle in a good and proper fashion.
Dreams implant a message deep within our psyches. When we awaken we may not know it, but we have been “programmed.” We have received a message and that inner knowledge will direct the thoughts in our minds, the feelings in our hearts and the course of the events in our lives. Dreams are sent to us all in order to direct our behavior and help us return to G-d. Everyone dreams regardless of whether we remember our dreams or not. While many dreams are caused by our waking thoughts, desires or fears, nonetheless the message dream is still a living and vibrant part of our psyches. Cultivating awareness of the meaning of our dreams and their inherent meaning enables us to draw closer to our blessed Creator.
What greater work than this is there?
B’reshit 28;1So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. “Do not take a wife from the Canaanite women,” he commanded. 2 “Go at once to Paddan-aram, to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel, and take a wife from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 3 May God Almighty (el shaddai) bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, so that you may become a company of peoples. 4 And may He give the blessing of Abraham to you and your descendants, so that you may possess the land where you dwell as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.” 5 So Isaac sent Jacob to Paddan-aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau…10 And Jacob left Beer sheba, and he went to Haran.
Last week we took a look at the account of Ya’acov obeying his mother Rivka’s command to assert himself and become the bechor-firstborn, the spiritual leader of the family. Above is the blessing of Avraham, the promised land which Yitsach may have always planned to give to Ya’acov. When Yitsach bestows this blessing on his son he invokes the name El Shaddai- the identity of Hashem which was first used when He made covenant with Avraham avinu. The blessing inside the tent of Yitsach was that of abundance, fat and dew… wealth and property. Although Yitsach states: “Indeed he will be blessed…” Ya’acov is given the riches- in fact, God starts him out with nothing. Fleeing from his brother, Ya’acov leaves into exile with nothing. (B’reshit 32;10 I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan…) Rivkah tells Ya’acov- “let all the consequences of this fall to me, I will be the one held responsible.” In fact, God shows him throughout his journey the consequences had indeed followed him after all. People may give out things, people may make predictions, but Hashem has the final word in all matters.
The story of Jacob’s journey to Charan is the story of every soul’s descent to the physical world. A place of lies, deceptions, struggle and hardship; a place in which material concerns consume one’s days and nights, sapping one’s energy, confusing one’s priorities, and all but obscuring the purpose for which one has come there in the first place.Yet it is in Charan, in the employ of Laban the Deceiver, not in the Holy Land and its “tents of learning,” that Jacob founds the nation of Israel. It is here that he marries and fathers eleven of the twelve sons who will become the twelve tribes of Israel. Had Jacob remained in the Holy Land, the life of this pious scholar who lived 3,500 years ago would have been of no significance to us today. The soul, too, achieves its enduring significance only upon its descent into “Charan.” Only as a physical being, invested within a physical body and inhabiting a physical environment, can it fulfill the purpose of its creation, which is to build “a dwelling for G‑d in the physical world.” (the Lubavitcher Rebbe)
(Found only in the contexts of the dreams of B’reshit- Avimelech, Laban, Ya’acov, Yosef, and Pharaoh and then only in sefer Devarim in the context of stark warnings against believing false prophets and misinterpreting dreams. To me, this could indicate that the false prophet will use the interpretation of a dream in order to exploit his or her message in order to turn the hearts and minds of God’s people toward fear, doubt, and ultimately idolatry.)
The shoresh of this word is beautiful (salal), let us look at the contexts of it in Tanakh and be built up through the examination.
B’reshit 28;16 When Jacob woke up, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was unaware of it.” 17And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the שַׁעַר gate of heaven!”
# 8179 (masc. n) שַׁעַר Sha’ar – a measure, fold, gate, inner gate, FORUM FOR JUDGMENT.
Sh’mot 32:26… then Moses stood in the שַׁעַר gate of the camp, and said, “Whoever is for the LORD, come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered together to him.
Devarim [11;20] 6:9 “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house & on your שַׁעַר gates.
Devarim 28:52 “It [a nation of fierce countenance] shall besiege you in all your שַׁעַר towns until your high and fortified walls in which you trusted come down throughout your land, and it shall besiege you in all your שַׁעַר towns throughout your land which the LORD your God has given you.
Judges 16:3 2 When the Gazites heard that Samson was there, they surrounded that place and lay in wait for him all night at the city שַׁעַר gate. They were quiet throughout the night, saying, “Let us wait until dawn; then we will kill him.”Now Samson lay until midnight, and at midnight he arose and took hold of the doors of the city שַׁעַר gate and the two posts and pulled them up along with the bars; then he put them on his shoulders and carried them up to the top of the mountain which is opposite Hebron.
Tehillim 100; 1 Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing. 3 Know that the LORD Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. 4 Enter His שַׁעַר gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. give thanks to Him, bless His name. 5 For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.
Yeshayahu 28;5 In that day the LORD of hosts will become a beautiful crown and a glorious diadem to the remnant of His people; 6 A spirit of justice for him who sits in judgment, a strength to those who repel the onslaught at the שַׁעַר gate.
The gate is a place of “experience”. It is a place of authority. It is a place of covenant making. It can also be a place of declaration (either to the positive vow or promise, or to the more negative renouncing of an incumbent responsibility). It can be a place where sentence is meted for all to see and be disuaded from commiting the same offense. A gate can be the threshold for hearing the Torah of Hashem and taking it to heart as a community. A gate can be a place of worship. The gate is a place of communion and sharing. The gate is a place of action, testimony and witness. The gate is a place of judgment and if the Torah structure is being adhered to it is a place of righteous justice.
When Ya’acov is having his dream, the Lord is declaring to him the covenant which will continue with him personally. He is stating His judgment on everything that has come so far and everything that will be in the future. We too will reach the gate of heaven one day, and at the threshold of the Lord’s presence we will have been awakened… resurrected for judgment. EVERYONE will be a part of God’s righteous judgment.
For those who intimately walk with Him, our result is inheritance in salvation- Yeshua.
Hebrews 9;27Just as man is appointed to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28so also Messiah was offered once to bear the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await Him.
2 Corinthians 5; 6Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— 7for we walk by faith, not by sight— 8we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 9Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Messiah, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Romans 14; 9For this reason Messiah died and returned to life, so that He might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 Why, then, do you judge your brother? Or why do you belittle your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
Yeshayahu 29; 7 And the multitude of all the nations who wage war against Ariel, even all who wage war against her and her stronghold, and who distress her, Will be like a חֲלוֹם dream, a vision of the night. 8 It will be as when a hungry man dreams— and behold, he is eating; But when he awakens, his hunger is not satisfied, or as when a thirsty man dreams— and behold, he is drinking, but when he awakens, behold, he is faint and his thirst is not quenched. Thus the multitude of all the nations will be who wage war against Mount Zion.
[This passage was special to me, for I find myself in much angst when I see the constant attempts at terror being inflicted upon Israeli’s. Today, I believe that Hashem says to those who come against her in any form-‘you can try, like anyone can see themselves doing anything while they are sleeping (one can fly, hold their breath indefinitely, horde splendor and riches and power) but when it comes to My People- you’re dreamin’! ]
B’reshit 31;10 When the flocks were breeding, I saw in a חֲלוֹם dream that the streaked, spotted, and speckled males were mating with the females. 11 In that dream the Angel of God said to me, ‘Jacob!’ And I replied, ‘Here I am.’ 12’ Look up,’ He said, ‘and see that all the males that are mating with the flock are streaked, spotted, or speckled; for I have seen all that Laban has done to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and made a solemn vow to Me. Now get up and leave this land at once, and return to your native land.’”
Ya’acov is a dreamer (it follows then that he did take to heart Yosef’s dream, a man who also was given dreams and the ability to interpret the dreams of others.) He dreams, he is given direct instruction through his dreams from Hashem and he is also in frequent contact (even physically) with מַלְאָךְ angels.
At the points in his journey when he is given instruction, the angels that he is in contact with are informing, and I believe ministering and strengthening him.
When these interactions take place, Ya’acov is about the make a big step in his life.
Is it viable to believe that the angels that were already here doing their work before ascending the ladder in his dream, could be ministering to us as well- especially before we face a big struggle or an important decision? I wonder- if as with Ya’acov, who “didn’t know” – it is all a matter of us being sensitized to this belief and assurance.
Tehillim 91;10 No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent. 11For He will give His מַלְאָךְ angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. 12They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone.
What is fascinating is that there is one context for the word gate that we did not investigate.
The repeated usages when the Children of Israel are commanded to come to the Holy Temple and bring their Tithe.
Let us look at the similarities between Ya’acov’s חָלַם dream and the context of bringing the Tithe.
There are so = similarities in theme, in actual Hebrew terms, also in Chiastic structures, in both of these passages.
Ya’acov’s dream- where he recognizes over and over “ha’makom” the place, the place, the place (this is throughout scripture an indication of Hashem’s Holy Abode on Earth- the place where Avraham looked up and saw…on the third day, the tithe is in the 3rd year…when he was set out to do God’s command to lift up Yitsach as an olah.) Ya’acov’s dream- where he is promised God will be with him and that he will have so many descendants they will be like the earth in vastness. He is told they will spread out and eventually return again to that place. There is mention of the gate, of oil, of God’s presence, and of the fact that God will become his personal God (not just his father’s God, or his grampa’s God, but HIS God.) Then, Ya’acov asks for the bare minimum, a humble request for food, shelter, clothing and a return from this exile he’s about to enter. Ya’acov then promises a tithe to Hashem.
In Devarim 14, the Maaser text- we read all about the same themes! The tithe, the presence of the Lord in the place, the place, the place… the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. There is the realization that indeed Ya’acov’s descendants have become so abundant they have spread out so much that there may be a journey in order to come to the place the Lord chooses. There is mention of the gate, of oil, of the presence of God, and the fact that at this point indeed the Lord has become the God of this nation, he is THEIR GOD. They are to take of that which Hashem responded to their forefather’s request… their food, their provisions for the journey, and go return to their Father’s House.
Did Ya’acov keep his vow to Hashem?
Amazing- It is Ya’acov’s DESCENDANTS WHO WILL KEEP THIS VOW.
Yeshayahu 66; 1Thus says the LORD, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? 2 “For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.
Ya’acov says- and I’ll give to you Lord…
Hashem says, what do I need that you can give me?
You take it, eat it, enjoy it.
To Ya’acov’s descends- So now, it is your turn to remember and take care of the Levite who also knows what it is like not to have the inheritance of land. So remember and take care of the orphan because you know what it is like to feel like an orphan. So remember and take care of the widow who has no one to provide for her basic needs, those you asked for and I provided. Do this at the gates.
Do this and remember that
THIS VERY THING IS WHAT YOUR DREAM WAS ALL ABOUT.
Ministering to the less fortunate and making them feel like they have a place, and have an inheritance, and have a home and family and provision.
Going up in spirituality, studying the Torah, worshipping God, growing and prospering is ONLY so that you can minister to others here in your lifetime.
Share with those less fortunate at the Gate of the place where I choose and remember
this is what the vision of angels at work,
and heaven is all about!
Your nation will be like the angels, bringing the light of the Torah into this world. Connecting heaven and earth.
You want vision? You want meaning? You want ascension?
Care for others who cannot provide for themselves!
The only other place rosh ha’b’shamayim- head in heaven was in the place of the ladder in Ya’acov’s dream, and the Tower at Bavel. The tower builders had it all wrong. The only way to ascend to God is not for making a name for oneself. One analogous faceless un-unique force, where the stones aren’t set up and anointed as monuments for worship of Hashem… but rather uniform bricks are formed by man.
The ladder, and the Torah’s amazing concept of the Tithe is coming as a tikun- that tower was for a name for oneself, the ladder and the message is to make a name for the one who can’t do it alone. Give the downtrodden a name, where?
In the place where GODS NAME resides.
Take your past, take your present and let us together stand at this gate in time and sacred space before Hashem and ask Him to judge us.
Revealing to our hearts how to grow.
And how to LET GO.
And how to MOVE ON.
Then believe that he is just and righteous in unconditional forgiveness.
“Surely the LORD is in this place,
Resources: Much of this entry was learned from various articles and sources from Chabad.org, Rabbi David Fohrman of https://alephbeta.org, Rabbi Shlomo Katz, Rabbi Ari Kahn and more. See the Homepage on this blog and the My Resources entry for a complete list of sources.