Living Torah

By Rabbi Ari Enkin, rabbinic director, United with Israel

This week’s Torah portion is “VaYeitzei”, meaning “to leave” (Genesis 28:10–32:3). It is in this week’s reading that Jacob packed his bags and fleed for his life from his evil brother Esau and headed to Haran to live with his uncle Laban. On the way to Haran Jacob made a stop for the night on Mount Moriah, pitched his tent, and called it a day.

That night, Jacob had a dream. In his dream, he saw a ladder whose top reached the heavens and angels were continually ascending and descending the ladder. Jacob was awestruck at what he was seeing. Then God Himself appeared to him in his dream and promised him that the land he is resting upon would be given to him and his descendants. He was told that God Almighty would protect him throughout his journey right through to his return to the land of Israel. Upon awakening Jacob built an altar to God.

The amount of commentary on Jacob’s dream is simply exhaustive, but I will share one such timely thought. As many readers know, Mount Moriah, where Jacob had his dream, is known today as the “Temple Mount” in Jerusalem. The altar that Jacob built following his dream was the forerunner to the Temple that was built by Solomon and stood in Jerusalem. It served as the ultimate altar and center of worship for the entire world. As the prophet says “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

For a third time the land is promised to the Jewish people. It was promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and now to Jacob. In fact, our sages teach us that when Jacob was sleeping on the Temple Mount, God folded the entire land of Israel and placed it beneath him. As such, when God promised Jacob the land of Israel, He did so in Jerusalem, the Eternal Capital of the Jewish people, and with then entire land of Israel in attendance, so to speak.

Those who have been following the news this week may have read about the halt in renovations, and by extension, safety, that took place at the Temple Mount. You see, the bridge leading to the Mugrabi Gate, which is the only access for non-Muslims to the Temple Mount, (yes, you read right…the only access for NON-MUSLIMS to the Temple Mount) is in danger of collapse. As such, the City of Jerusalem and the State of Israel were planning to replace the structure with something more secure that can handle the many tourists and pilgrims that ascend the Temple Mount each day. However, Egypt and Jordan sent “warnings” to Jerusalem that any work on the Mugrabi Gate would lead to “consequences.” Sadly, the work has indeed been halted with the safety of thousands at stake.

Friends, remember Jacob’s dream? Remember those angels going up the ladder and the angels going down the ladder? Well, the angels going up to the Heavens represent those who believe in and are a part of the covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. On the other hand, the angels going down to earth represent our enemies who have no place in the Kingdom of God. Such people are destined to remain upon the physical earth with no connection to anything higher, ever. They are the lowest creatures represented by the ground.

It’s all in the week’s Torah portion. Jerusalem, the Land, and the Mugrabi Gate – all belong to the Jewish people alone. May we see the fulfillment of Jacob’s dream with all our enemies falling off the ladder, speedily in our days. Amen.

Shabbat Shalom from Israel!

Rabbi Ari Enkin

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