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    Above and within – Vayyetzei

    Jacob's ladder, by James Tissot

    One view of Jacob’s ladder is that it represents Divine polarity.

    There are two aspects of the Almighty: “I dwell above in holiness, but also with the contrite and lowly in spirit, reviving the spirits of the lowly, reviving the hearts of the contrite” (Isa. 57:18).

    Rabbi Yochanan said, “Wherever in Scripture you find God’s loftiness, there you also find His lowliness” (Meg. 31a).

    God is great, mighty and awesome, but He also concerns Himself with the orphan, widow and stranger (Deut. 10:17-18).

    God is at the summit of the ladder, majestic and sublime, and also at the foot of the ladder, comforting those who suffer.

    He is transcendent – above and beyond – and immanent, nearby and within.

    He is Avinu Malkenu, Father and King. If He were only Malkenu, His creatures would be afraid to approach Him; if He were only Avinu, they might exploit His love and say with Voltaire, “Of course God will forgive; that’s His job!”

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