Midreshet Amit


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Parshat Vayetze

By: Stephanie Schatz

In tanach dreams tend to fall into different categories. In some dreams Gd  talks to the person having the dream; in others Gd speaks through a medium, usually in a mashal. In our parsha yaakov's famous dream of the ladder is an example of the first category.
ויחלם והנה סלם מצב ארצה וראשו מגיע השמימה והנה מלאכי אחרים עלים וירדים בו. והנה ד נצב עליו...
How can we understand yaakov's dream, especially the pictorial element? What does this dream mean to yaakov?
The seforno's approach, primarily sourced from the midrash tanchuma is that princes of the nation's will rise and fall but Gd will always be on top. According to the midrash yaakov's dream is about the future of his world, the rise and fall of nations and cultures. The ladder is seen as a ladder of history and not really about yaakov himself.
This seems typical of the Torah to make a person's dream a warning about the future but what does this have to do with yaakov.
The timing of the dream seems important here; yaakov has left his family and is on his way to padan aram. Rashi asks and answers this question by dealing with the question of what the angels go up before they go down, it should be the opposite. Rashi explains that until now yaakov had been projected by the angels of eretz yisrael as he now leaves  eretz yisrael the angels that had protected him.return to heaven and his new angels are coming down to protect him. Yaakov is protected as an individual but also as one of the fathers of the Jewish people. The fact that yaakov is promised that he will be protected always and eventually returned to the land of Israel is a promise for the Jewish people that the same will happen. While many Jews have returned, not everyone is back. Now more than ever we need our angels protecting us everywhere and returning us to the land.