G‑d follows you everywhere
Special to the CJN
(November 8, 2013) 

One Shabbat afternoon, Rabbi Ari Shishler, Chabad rabbi in a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa, was sitting in his synagogue talking with a few lingering congregants. The front gate opened and a group of hoodlums entered and held everyone at gunpoint. At that second, the only thought that went through his mind was: “Please G‑d, don’t let anyone get hurt.”

The gangsters asked for cash, only to receive a lengthy explanation how cash is not allowed on Shabbat. So they asked for cell phones – they obviously didn’t do their homework, and the rabbi was obligated to explain at gunpoint why no one had a phone or electronic device in their pockets. After a long 10 minutes, they took all the jewelry they could lay their hands on, and, thank G‑d, left without hurting anyone.

In this week’s parasha, Vayetzei, we learn about the journey of our patriarch Jacob from Beer Sheva to Charan. He was forced to leave his homeland of Israel to travel to Charan, a foreign and pagan country. On the way, he stopped for the night and there dreamed his famous dream. To quote the Bible: Genesis 28:12: “There was a ladder that was wedged in the ground and its top reached to the heaven and angels of G‑d were going up and down on it.”

And then G‑d spoke to him, “Look, I am with you, and I will guard you wherever you go... I will not abandon you.”

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that the ladder that Jacob saw in his dream represents the connection between heaven and earth, between the materialistic world and the spiritual world.

The angels who were going up represent the words of our prayers. We pray to G‑d and our words ascend up high. The angels going down represent the teachings of the Torah. These are the words of G‑d who descends from above and guides us how to lead our lives.

This story teaches us that anyone who has the dream or vision to make it his/her business to become a ladder that connects heaven and Earth will receive the promise from G‑d, “I am with you and will guard you wherever you go...

Whether in Charan or South Africa, New York City or Solon, Ohio, engaging in prayers and the study Torah ensures that G‑d will always be with you.

Rabbi Zushe Greenberg is the spiritual leader of Solon Chabad.