|The Rise and Fall of Yaakov's Angels
Published: Monday, December 5, 2016 09:36:58 AM
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Yaakov had a dream, a ladder was set on the ground and its top reached up to heaven, and Angels of G-D were going up and down on it" (Bereshit 28). What is the meaning of this Heavenly Ladder?
Life is like a ladder, a series of ups and downs. The ladder that was standing on the ground showed Yaakov that we must use the physical world as a ladder with which to elevate ourselves by serving G-D. Through our service of G-D we help all of existence to fulfill its ultimate destiny. The Angels that were going up and down convey the idea that all of creation depends on us. Even the rise and fall of the Holy Angels is related to our actions.
If we use the physical world for holy and spiritual purposes, then all of creation, including the Heavenly Angles is elevated. But if we abuse G-D's world by neglecting the Torah, then all of creation, even the Holy Angels descends along with us. This reality demonstrates the awesome and frightening power of the human being.
The Mishna in Avot states, "know what is above you". Rav Chaim Volozhin translates this Mishna differently, "If you want to know what is above in Heaven, it's up to you!" What we do here on earth has cosmic repercussions in Heaven.
According to Kabbala, this world is like a ladder that reaches up to heaven. G-D's Angels, meaning human beings, who come into this world to fulfill G-D's Will, some of us are going up, while others are going down. No one remains forever at the same level, for spiritual progress that endures requires constant spiritual struggle.
That is why sometimes one goes down a step, so that when one comes back up, one experiences greater joy and spiritual growth, YERIDA LE'TZORECH ALIYAH-Descent for the Purpose of Ascent. As the Mishna in Avot states, "according to the pain is the gain". It's the constant struggle with the Evil Impulse (Yetzer Harah) that develops our spiritual strengths and moral character. NO PAIN, NO GAIN!