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Biography of Yehuda Katz | Archives | This Week's Parsha


"And he (JACOB) dreamt,and behold! A Ladder was set earthward and its top reached the heaven..............."(28:12)

A question can be asked, what is the symbolic significance associated to a ladder?

At this point in Jacob's life he was about to go into exile.He was being driven from his home by an angry brother ,Esau, who wished to kill him,thus being forced to leave the safe and spiritually secure home of his father Isaac. The Jewish people are also presently in exile,however, there is something about Jacobs dream of a ladder that has a significant message concerning how a Jew can protect himself from the dangers of exile, particularly against the negative and destructive influences that are contrary to Torah.In Tractate Menochot 43b, the following is stated: Rabbi Eliezer b. Yaakov said,If a person wears tefillin,tzitzit on his garment,and has a Mezzuzah on his door,it can be taken for granted that he will not sin. for it says, "A three -ply cord (Tefillin,tzizit and Mezzuzah) is not easily cut" (Ecclesastes 4;12).....(end of quote) The basic unit of every ladder consists of three parts,two vertical poles and one horizontal rung between the two poles. These three parts represent the three Mitzvot of Tefillin,Tzizit and Mezzuzah..............The Torah is teaching us that if a Jew is to survive spiritually in exile and keep away from sin,these three Mitzvahs must be carefully observed. When G-d showed Jacob the ladder in the dream ,G-d was in essence teaching Jacobs future generations how to maintain themselves spiritually in exile as represented by the three basic parts of the ladder.But,how does Tefillin,Tzizit and Mezzuzah protect a person from sin?The Rambam in Hilchos (laws) of Mezzuzah 6:13 says the following:A person should be very carefull about the Mitzvah of Mezzuzah.Every time a person enters and exits his house and notices the Unity of the Holy One,Blessed be He (Mezzuzah),he is reminded of His Devine love,and he awakens from his (spiritual) slumber and mistaken ways ..........................Realizing this,he will immediately return and follow the correct path.The Rabbis said: Whoever is surrounded by Tefillin, Tzizit and Mezzuzah is assured protection from sin for he has many reminders (Tefillin, Tzizit and Mezzuzah),and these are the very "angels" which save him from sin;as it says in Psalms 34:8 , "The angel of Hashem encamps around His reverent ones,and he rescues them".(end of quote)............Have a good shabbos


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