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Jacob's Ladder & the Baal Shem Tov's Inferno

How Darwinism Destroyed Self-Esteem

52 min

Class Summary:

It is one of the great visions of the Torah. Jacob, alone at night, fleeing from the wrath of Esau, lies down to rest, and sees not a nightmare of fear but an epiphany: “He came to a certain place and stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream. He saw a ladder resting on the earth, with its top reaching heaven. And behold! There were Angels of G-d going up and down the ladder. And there above it stood G-d.”

Just what exactly were the angels doing? Were they going up or going down? It sounds like both. But why? For what purpose? The Talmud tells us: “The angels ascended to gaze upon the visage of Jacob above; then they descended to gaze upon the image of Jacob below.”

What is the meaning of this cryptic Talmudic interpretation? What are these two images? Why were the angels scrutinizing them? The image of Jacob observed by the angels surfaces in the story of Joseph, his son. Joseph, sold as a slave to an Egyptian nobleman, attracts the lustful imagination of his master's wife. She desperately tries to engage Joseph in an immoral relationship. As the union between them was about to materialize, the visage of his father, Jacob, suddenly appeared to Joseph. This caused him to reject the urge and flee outside. What was it about Jacob's visage that inspired Joseph to deny such an intense temptation?

Each of us, the Talmud is suggesting, professes two “images”—two faces, two personalities, two identities, a heavenly image and an earthly one. There is who you are, and who you can be. There is the “you” experienced in your own mind, and the “you” the way it is envisioned by G-d. But only in Jacob were both images one: the image below was an authentic reflection of his image above.

It is here that the Torah is eloquently portraying one of the greatest tragedies of Darwinism: the loss of true self-esteem.

Please leave your comment below!

  • SK

    Sholom K -8 years ago

    It's interesting that here the angels were envious of Yaakov, the gemoro in Shabbos 88-89 says that when Moshe told the angels why the Torah was given to humans rather then angels once of the things he said was, do you have a yetzer horo, do you have jealousy amongst you that the Torah should be relevant to you?....
    We see that angels are perfect creatures that dont experience jealousy.
    How does that fit with the midrash over here?

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  • AB

    AVI BRAUN -11 years ago

    WAY WAY WAY AND THANK YOU
    IM NOT  ABLE TO DOWNLOAD YOURE CLASSES ALL THE TIMME. WAY IS THAT. CEEP UP THE WONDERFULL WORK.

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    • A

      Anonymous -11 years ago

      Re: WAY WAY WAY AND THANK YOU
      Please be more specific about the problem and we willl try to fix. thanks for your kind words.

      Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • DHB

    Dovid HaLevy Benveniste -11 years ago

    @Rv.Kaplan
    Bs"d

    Doesn't the Rebbe say,that to bring Moshiach one must  "..open their eyes?" And doesn't the Rebbe Maharash (or Ater Rebbe) continue that the best perspective is to be   "..on the outside looking in?" Yom Tov,Shavua Tov,Chodesh Tov Chanukah Sameach and a Pesach Sameach!

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  • B

    ben -12 years ago

    the way we see ourselves
    "ki yetzer lev ha'adam ra minurav" Bereishis 8:22

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  • B

    ben -12 years ago

    the way we see ourselves
    im questioning based on the pasuk that says the beginnings of man are all bad... so how can it be that if we ourselves as good we can be good, doesn't G-d directly contradict that in the Torah?

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    • A

      Anonymous -12 years ago

      Re: the way we see ourselves
      I do not know the source for what you suggest. The Torah clearly states, that after G-d created all creations of Friday, including man, G-d said that "He saw all that He made and it was VERY GOOD."



      The Torah also states that man was created by G-d blowing a soul into the human body, "blowing" representing something that comes from G-d's depth, as it were. In other words, the soul of man is a "part" of G-d, so to speak, which is why man is capable of reaching the greatest heights.






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  • RR

    Robert Rubin -12 years ago

    another 9/11 parallel event in history
    Friend of mine mentioned that on 9/11 1683, there was the 'Victory of Vienna' where the Muslim armies in Europe were defeated. Thank you sara. How could we check the gematria of this event if possible?

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  • JK

    Judy Kitchner -12 years ago

    thank you to Rabbi Jacobson
    I worked until 6:30 last night, but made my way to Aventura anyway to hear Rabbi Jacobson. So glad I did. Great humor, all so relevant, interesting, and inspiring. Went with my husband and my 26 year old daughter, and we all enjoyed and benefitted. Thank you so much.

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  • LCG

    Leib Chaim Goldfarb -12 years ago

    Brilliant Anaylsis
    Incredible parallel between the two modes of kashrush and the two evils under discussion.

    Wow!

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  • RR

    Robert Rubin -12 years ago

    fascinating
    The message of this essay is outstanding. Most people would never really get it. I did not until now. Expanding Torah and ultimately being a light unto nations requires both. The Gematria is amazing as well.

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  • A

    Anonymous -12 years ago

    Do They Have Scales?
    You are right. I was discussing the brainwashed youth, who are deprived of a life of promise as they are taught from the youngest age that this is the greatest objective of life to die as a "Shahid." Some of them know not better and really mean it.

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  • A

    Anonymous -12 years ago

    Gematria
    A Rabbi sent this note to me:

    אוסמא בן לדן = 244

    הטלר = 244

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  • RWV

    rabbi wineberg, vancouver -12 years ago

    fins and scales
    yossi a really well done and insightful article! you bring out the rebbes vort into beautiful and relevalt reality. kol hakavod! gut shabbos

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  • A

    Anonymous -12 years ago

    fish
    very finny article, but all to scale.

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  • C

    CARMELA -13 years ago

    TECHNICAL/SPIRITUAL RESPONSE TO ELIE
    HI ELIE
    I'M NOT FAMILIAR WITH INTERNET RULES, AND THANKS FOR INFORMING ME.

    ONLY THAT I HAVE PROBLEMS WITH MY EYESIGHT AND THESE LETTERS ARE EASIER FOR ME TO READ...
    I DON'T THINK THE CONTENT I WRITE IS OF YELLING NATURE NOR THE STYLE I USE.

    AS FAR AS THE MISSPELLINGS - I APPOLOGIZE. ENGLISH ISN'T MY
    MOTHER TONGUE, AND IN WRITTING THE COMMENT/MESSAGE, THERE IS NO AUTOMATIC CORRECTION FEATURE...I'M AWARE OF MY NON PERFECT ENGLISH, BUT WHO AND WHAT ON THIS EARTH IS PERFECTLY PERFECT? ARE YOU?

    ONE OF THE WONDERFUL BAAL SHEM TOVS MOTOS WAS:
    WHAT YOU SEE IN OTHERS, IS THE REFLECTION OF WHAT IS IN YOU...SPEAKING OF NEGATIVITY AND JUDGEMENTAL CRITISICM EXPRESSED IN YOUR NOTE, WITHOUT REFERING TO THE ISSUE AT HAND - THE SPIRITUAL CONTENT OF MY COMMENT.

    EACH OF US IS A MIRROR FOR THE OTHER, REFLECTING BACK TO HIM/HER HIS/HER OWN IMAGE.

    WHEN ONE SEES GOOD IN THE OTHER, AND HAS COMPATION TO WHAT IS PERCEIVED BY HIM AS THE OTHERS FLAWS, THAT IS THE GOOD IN HIMSELF THAT OBSERVES THE GOOD IN THE OTHER, IT IS THE PERCEPTION OF HIS ABOVE IMAGE,WHILE WHEN HE CHOOSES TO SEE THE OPPOSITE OF IT...IT REFLECTS HIS OWN BELLOW IMAGE.

    ''HAPOSEL BEMOOMO POSEL''

    WISHING YOU INNER SPIRITUAL EYES SEEING FROM YOUR ABOVE IMAGE.

    ALL THE BEST
    CARMELA, ISRAEL

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  • Y

    Yakov -13 years ago

    Question
    If angels have no evil inclination how can they be jealous and want to harm jacob

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  • N

    Neshama -13 years ago

    transmission
    B"H We are here in Yerushalayim and only can tune in to your shiur on the following day or later in the week. The video keeps stopping every few words, so it takes a veeerrrry long time to listen to the shiur. Do you know why? What can we do?

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  • N

    nat -13 years ago

    angels have envy?
    please explain how angels that have No challenges and No temptations end up having envy of jacob?

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  • ADH

    Aaron de Haas -13 years ago

    Video november 8 2010
    B:H
    Dear Rebbe Jacobson,
    I love you words, It brings me to tears.
    Sjalom Alechem,
    Aaron

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  • C

    CARMELA -13 years ago

    OUR ABOVE AND BELOW IMMAGES - TO MENDEL KAPLAN
    A RESPONSE NOTE FROM THE LAST TO THE FIRST QUESTION:

    THERE IS NO BAD IMAGE ABOVE AT ALL ! G-D CREATED/CREATES ONLY GOOD AND GAVE US THE CHOICE - THE TREE OF LIFE OR OF DEATH, THE BLESSING OR THE CURSE.
    WHILE GIVING US THE OPTIONS, HE REALLY WANTS US TO CHOOSE THE GOOD,THE BLESSING, THE TREE OF LIFE AS STATED IN THE TORAH:CHOOSE LIFE ''UBACHARTA BACHAYIM''.

    G-D HAD PUT ADAM AND EVE IN
    THE GARDEN OF EDEN FOR ETERNAL LIFE,WITH INSTRUCTIONS TO FOLLOW G-DS WORDS,BUT THEY DIDN'T, SO THEY/WE HAD/HAVE TO BEAR THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR/OUR CHOICES...
    ''IM BEKOLI TISHMAU'' IF YOU FOLLOW MY WORDS...''IM BIDRACHAY TELECHU'' IF YOU WILL WALK MY PATH...
    G-D SAYS, AND DISCLOSES THE BENEFITS OF OUR OBEDIENCE, AS WELL AS THE MISFORTUNE THAT WILL FOLLOW OUR DISOBEDIENCE.

    THE CHOICE IS IN OUR HANDS !
    BUT G-DS PREFERENCE FOR US IS TO BESTOW ONLY BENEFITS ON US.

    G-D GAVE US A BOOK OF INSTRUCTIONS, LAWS AND STORIES TO DRAW CONCLUSIONS FROM, TO OUR ACTIONS AND BEHAVIORS.
    HE GAVE US A ROAD MAP, HIS WISDOM - THE TORAH, TO MAKE CHOICES TO LIVE BY.

    THE CHABAD FOUNDER, WHO WROTE THE TANYA, ELABORATES THE TWO IMAGES WE POSES,THE EARTHLY ONE BELLOW,REPRESENTED BY OUR BODY AND OUR EGO,AND THE HEAVENLY IMAGE ABOVE,THE SPIRITUAL GODLY SOUL THAT RESIDES IN OUR BODIES.
    THE ALTE REBBE TEACHES US HOW TO MERGE BODY AND SOUL,HOW TO ELEVATE OUR ANIMALISTIC EARTHLY IMAGE BY OUR HEAVENLY SPIRITUAL IMAGE,HOW TO INTEGRATE THE TWO,IN THE OWE AND LOVE OF G-D,BY FOLLOWING HIS WAYS OF WORSHIP, MORALITY ETC.THAT ARE IN THE TORAH, AND DECODED BY THE CHASSIDUT.

    A PERSON DOESN'T HAVE TO LITERALLY PHYSICALLY SEE HIMSELF FROM ABOVE.THIS IS A METAPHORE, A FIGURE OF SPEACH,
    FOR US TO CONSIDER OUR HEIGHER POTENTIAL WE WERE CREATED WITH,TO BE AWARE THAT THE EARTHLY IS THE VEHICLE THAT CARRIES THE HEAVENLY,SO THAT THE HEAVENLY WILL BE ABLE TO PURIFY THE EARTHLY TO THE DEGREE THAT THE HEAVENLY WILL BE ABLE TO RESIDE ON EARTH IN PURITY AND SACREDNESS.
    BECAUSE THE EARTHLY WILL BECOME PURE AND SACRED.

    THAT IS OUR ''WORK'', OUR LIFE MISSION.
    THIS IS THE REASON AND THE WHOLE PURPOSE OF US LIVING ON THIS EARTH.
    AND IT CAN BE ACHIEVED BY US FOLLOWING G-DS ROAD SIGNS,MAKING OUR CHOICES ACCORDINGLY,KNOWING THAT G-D IS EVERYTHING AND EVERYTHING IS G-D,REALIZING THE GODLY IN US AND IN OUR FELLOWS.

    CARRY WITHIN US THE JACOBS IMAGE AND ALWAYS SEE IT, AS JOSEF DID,WHENEVER WE ARE TEMPTED TO FORGET WHO WE REALLY ARE, OR TO FORSAKE OUR ABOVE/HEIGHER IMAGE.

    GOOD CHOICES TO YOU !
    CARMELA, ISRAEL

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  • KT

    Kayo, Tokyo -13 years ago

    Birds can fly, so can I
    Baruch HaShem

    Thank you Rabbi Jacobson for such a encouraging shiur. Rabbi Bryski of Chabad Conejo, California told us in his shiur "the Power of Hope" at Chabad.Org about a picture of birds flying, and the words said- Birds can fly because they think they can. I was born and grew up in Tokyo. I lived life very animaristic and materialistic life. In fact, I was feeling the greatest self-esteem, self-satisfaction when I was capable of running through the steets with my Ego. I was acting according to the emotion of the moment. My image here was diametorically opposed to "Chabad" - Chassidic teaching that emphasizes on intellectual power, I believe. But now, after 5years having learned Chabad teachings, I sincerely believe HaShem's image of me above, one of my soul's mission in this life is to transform myself to be a Chabad Chasid from totally diametrically opposite back ground. Birds can fly, so can I.

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  • MK

    mendel kaplan -13 years ago

    the class was great!! i just have one question. #1 if we are saying that a person should look at his image above and his image bellow and decide how to live his life.but we humans cant see are image above? how can we choose how to live our life? #2 what if the image above is to be a bad person what does a person live by?

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Vayeitzei Class

Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • November 8, 2010
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  • 1 Kislev 5771
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Dedicated by David and Eda SchottensteinIn the loving memory of Alta Shula Swerdlov And in honor of Yetta Alta Shula "Aliyah," Schottenstein

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