Good Night, Yaakov – Parashat Vayeitzei

November 20, 2017 at 1:44 AM , , ,
“….And he arrived at the place and overnighted there because the sun had set….and he lay down at that place…..” – Bereishit 28:11

״….ויפגע במקום וילן שם כי בא השמש….וישכב במקום ההוא…״ – בראשית כח, יא

Here he lay down to sleep, but during the fourteen years when he studied under Ever he did not lie down… Here he lay down, but during the twenty years he spent in Lavan’s house he did not lie down. —Beraishis Rabbah 68:11 

Parashat Vayeitzei

For fourteen years before this fateful night and twenty years after, Yaakov never lay down to settle in for a good night’s sleep. Now, Yaakov was spending the night at “the place”, precisely the spot where the Beis Hamikdash, Judaism’s holiest site, would some day stand. How could it be that specifically here Yaakov lay down for a relaxing and peaceful sleep?

This tells us that there is a time and place that lowering your head to be on par with your feet is ideal. In practice, the physical aspects of our lives must be guided by the spiritual, as embodied in the human structure: our feet and lower faculties are lower – beneath and subject to – our minds, the seat of our spiritual awareness. Before G-d, however, the spiritual and the physical are equally incapable of expressing His essence, and the role for which He created each of them is equally significant.

The Beis Hamikdash was designated by G-d as the place wherein His presence would be most revealed. G-d therefore orchestrated for Yaakov to spend his time there asleep, with his higher faculties of cognitive thought inactive, with his feet on equal balance with his head. For in the presence of G-d, both the height of spirituality and the coarse material it affects and uplifts are on equal footing.

—Sefer Hasichos 5752 vol. 1, pp. 140-142

 

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