Parashat Vayetze

silhouette photography of person

This Parasha tells us the interesting dream that Yaakov had: “And he dreamed of a ladder that had its base on the earth and reached up to heaven”… What does the Torah want to teach us with the size of the ladder? Each of us would like to be a great person, no one really thinks: “I want to be mediocre”, but each one has a different character, and wisdom is discovering our great potential. Rabbi Chaim Vital, one of the greatest Kabbalists who lived in Safed in the 15th century, writes that just as the world is made up of four elements: earth, air, fire and water, so all people have those elements. In each person, an element is particularly dominant and largely determines his basic strengths and weaknesses. Identifying this “element” will help us discover the realm of spiritual growth (the “correction”) that we must do to achieve greatness, but we will only analyze two elements:

The ground (earth) is low and heavy, it stays in place, it is constantly stepped on and trapped by gravity. People for whom this element is dominant are prone to laziness, sadness, and despair, these are their main weaknesses. They have a certain heaviness, lack of ambition, and tend to be comfortable and effortless. Also, this element is related to worldly desires. The main job to overcome this deficiency is to focus on the achievements and progress we make, even if they are slow. The positive side of these people is that they do not tend to get into power struggles. They are hospitable, humble, and willing to cooperate. They give up and ‘let it go’. They are good team players and can be trusted. They are loyal and stable in their decisions and in their relationships.

Air is the most complex element. It is cheerful, fleeting and seemingly non-existent. It blows here and there, never fixed in place, never taking position. It is invisible and can be in one place when we think it is in another. People whose main element is air tend to be disinterested in the material world. They can be more spiritual and idealistic and live in a world of values. You may have the yearning to elevate this world and connect with the energies and abstract aspects of existence. Its weakness is related to the power of speech, the existence of which depends on the air from which it originates. These people tend to have meaningless conversations, gossip, flattery, and deception, and can distort the truth to their advantage. It is also difficult for them to stick to a routine and a schedule, when they unconsciously assume that they can be in several places at the same time. In his dream, Yaakov saw the balance that was needed to have a full spiritual and material life. Yaakov’s ladder rested on the ground, but why was he not lazy, sad, or desperate? Because he focused on his achievements, and mainly because his head was in the sky (air) and that helped him to disinterest in the material world, be more spiritual and reach his main goal in life: “Unify” with God.

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