Home > Rabbi's Message > D’var Torah: Parashat Vayeitzei

“There’s a lady who’s sure
All that glitters is gold
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven”

Unlike the woman described above in the Led Zeppelin classic, the staircase in this week’s Torah portion, Vayeitzei, is not made of gold. Jacob is fleeing to Haran after tricking his father Isaac into giving him his brother Esau’s blessing. Jacob rests for the night and “He had a dream; a stairway was set on the ground and its top reached to the sky, and angels of God were going up and down on it” (Gen. 28:12). Rabbinic commentators remark that the text at first appears out of order. It first speaks of angels going  up, and the rabbis wonder why. If angels are heavenly beings, shouldn’t they first be coming down before going up? One answer may be found in the Hebrew word malachim, which here is translated as “angels.” Another, and more appropriate translation, both here and other places where the word is used in Torah, would be “messengers.” Messengers going up and down in Jacob’s dream might represent an understanding that we first must reach up to God, before God will reach down to us.

May this be a week in which our messages go up to God, and may we trust in God’s decision whether or not to answer.

Rabbi Sandra M. Bellush