Yaakov Avinu came to the place of the Bais Hamikdash and he slept there. It was here where he dreamt about the ascending ladder to the heavens. When he awakens he exclaims (Bereishis 28,27) אכן יש ה’ במקום הזה ואנכי לא ידעתי it is true that Hashem dwells in this place and I did not realize it. Rav Shimshon Ostrepoli renders on these words a very esoteric meaning. He writes that there are four faces on the four sides of the Kisay Hakavod, a lion, an angel, an eagle and man, אריה כרוב נשר אדם. The face of the man is no other than Yaakov Avinu. Up until this time, Yaakov realized that theאריה כרוב נשר were part of the Kisay Hakavod. However, he was unaware that his own form was part of the Kisay. Only during the dream, he realized that even his countenance was part and parcel of the Throne of Glory. This new understanding of Yaakov is alluded to in these words. אכן יש ה’ במקום הזה. The word אכן is the acronym of the three faces that Yaakov already knew were part of the Kisayאריה כרוב נשר It was only after the dream that he realized that he himself יעקב represented the אדם. To this new addition, Yaakov says אנכי לא ידעתי if did not realize the acronym of אנכי was on the Kisay אריה נשר כרוב יעקב.
Even the malachim couldn’t believe this incredible sight of seeing Yaakov the mortal man sleeping at the place of the Bais Hamikdash and seeing his same face engraved on the Throne of Glory. How was this feat possible that a creation of flesh and blood could reach such lofty spiritual heights to be in both places at the same time? Chazal describe their astonishment by commenting that the malachim that were ascending and descending the ladder were the same ones. They repeated their ascent and descent on the ladder to see the form of Yaakov on the Kisay and again to see Yaakov on earth, and could not believe that they were identical.
Let us hear a deeper explanation in these words ומלאכי אלקים עולים ויורדים בו. The word בו does not mean the ladder but rather in him יעקב for Yaakov was the ladder. The ascent or the descent of the malachim depends upon the Yid which also symbolizes the letter yud of יעקב, the man on the Kisay. This concept is brought out in the Chazal that states that when Yanason Ben Uziel was learning Torah, the fire that emanated from him would burn up a bird that happened to be flying over his head at the time. The lashon of the Chazal is כל עוף הפורח על ראשו נשרף. However, there is another interpretation to this Chazal. The malachim have different names according to their varying levels as angels. עוף is the lowest level of a malach while in comparison a שרף is on a higher level. The madraigah of Torah which Yonasan Ben Uziel reached while learning was so lofty that even an עוף which was a lower level malach, נשרף, was elevated to the status of a שרף.
Growing up I remember a song called He’s got the whole world in His hand. This spiritual was written in World War II by Obie Philpot, a Cherokee Indian. It speaks of G-d as our creator and protector. Of course who else besides the creator can be referred to with such an ability to have the whole world in his hand except for one who is holding a globe in his hand. Yet according to Chazal lehavdil this expression goes on every Yid every day that he is gifted with the tzelem Elokim and neshamah that can affect with its thoughts, speech, and behavior the entire universe for good or for bad. His powers are likened to the ladder of Yaakov which stands on earth yet reaches the heavens. The Baal Haturim writes that סולם ladder is the same gematriah of ממון money. Money is earthly and one never has enough of it always craving for more. Yet it is a ladder heavenwards for if it is utilized for chesed and support of Torah learning, then it has climbed the ladder to the heavens and one will receive tremendous reward for giving it to charity.
We must not forget that Am Yisrael is engraved on the Kisay Hakavod the place where Hashem’s glory shines and resonates throughout all the upper worlds nurtured by our actions.
How does one climb the earthly ladder to the heavens? The answer is alluded to in Yaakov’s own words ואנכי לא ידעתי. The word אנכי symbolizes the I, ego, me, my bodily pleasures. אנכי לא means that I say NO to my אנכי. My yetzer harah has no limits and you cannot negotiate with him just like you cannot negotiate with terrorists. Only with such commitment and resolve, slowly but surely, rung by rung, we can climb the ladder upwards. By each small achievement, we can attain the level of ידעתי which means I have connected with Hashem as the passuk says והאדם ידע את חוה אשתו. When one realizes the letters of אנכי, that the yud of Yaakov is part of the Kisay and is able to elevate the אכן of the Kisay, he becomes super-empowered to ward off any attempts of the yetzer hara whose goal is to hijack your neshamah.
The malach of Eisav fought Yaakov in the coming parsha at מעבור יבק the crossing of the Yabok River. Why in this particular place? The gematriah of יבק is the same as אנכי לא . The malach of Eisav figured that in this place particularly, Yaakov is vulnerable to lose that power ofאנכי לא . He was wrong. However, he did injure Yaakov Momentarily in the כף of the thigh. Chazal say that this injury alluded to the generation of Shmad which first occurred in the Galus of Yavon at the period of Chanukah. It was during this period that the Greeks attempted to lure the Jewish Nation to follow in their philosophy and lifestyle, a life geared to enhance the bodily pleasures and say yes to all its cravings. I remember tasting this pressured philosophical influence about twenty years ago when the Coca Cola began blitzing the media by pushing Sprite to be more popular than Seven-Up with the slogan that had a subliminal “life” moral message of “Obey your thirst”! This theme also was conveying that when your body calls for pleasure you’d better listen carefully and act swiftly. No questions asked!
The victory of the Chashmonaim was the commitment to just the opposite, to obey your neshama, and to subjugate and harness the body. A stark hinting to this is the gematriah of חנוכה which is גוף. The I of the person is his אנכי which is gematriah 81. By absorbing the message of the eight days of Chanukah and its lights, one can become inspired into realizingאין כח there is no outside existing strength or power available to man in order to accomplish anything without Hashem. This concept of Man’s אין כח is written by adding the letter ח to אנכי (symbolizing 8 days). חנוכה is the gematria of אין כח to the גוף89.
When the Aseres Hadibros begins with the words אנכי ה’ אלקיך, it hints to the interpretation that when Man thinks that his אנכי is a powerful entity fueled on its own, he must realize that it is really ה’ אלהיך who powers the אנכי. The proof to this is that He took you out of Mitzrayim when the אנכי was helpless and paralyzed on its own. When this realization sinks in, only then can one’s אנכי transform into a כסא of kovod for Hashem. That is why they both share the same gematriah as 81. Loving Hashem with בכל לבבך (with the kollel 107) even with the I of one’s being is tantamount to changing the אנכי of selfishness into אנכי יהוה (107), the I and ego that become transformed into service of Hashem.
On Chanukah Am Yisrael turned the injury of כף into the letters of פך, the flask of oil that lit miraculously for eight days. Chazal say that the fight of Yaakov with the malach raised dust to the Kisay Hakavod. In other words, the battle was whether Yaakov and Klal Yisrael will be able to nullify one’s אנכי to the point of making it a vessel for Hashem’s glory as alluded to in the gematriah אנכי לא with the kollel equals כסא כבוד. On Chanukah with such avodas Hashem ofאנכי לא, we can merit to ידעתי to experience a more intimate relationship with Hashem. ידעתי is referring to the passuk ביד איש עתי (Vayikrah 16,21) which the Hemak Davar translates as a חכם לב an individual with a smart heart. ידעתי is composed of these two words יד עתי. When one nullifies his אנכי heart to Hashem he is rewarded with the wisdom to intimately come closer to Hashem בלבבי משכן אבנה.
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