A Lucky Ladder by Chaim Cohen


Ladders.  In non-Jewish culture they are bad luck, could this originate from Torah?  In this weeks Parsha, as Yaakov is running away from Esav he stops over and sleeps on his way out of Eretz Yisrael, and has a dream in which he sees “a ladder planted on the ground, and its top reached into the heavens” (28:12).  Many Meforshim attempt to explain the meaning of this strange seemingly prophetic dream.  The Baal Haturim points out that the Gematria, or numerical value of Sulam, ladder, is equal to 136, which is also the Gematria of Mammon, or money; as well as that of Ani, or poverty.  The Midrash states that the ladder represents Moshe and Korach.  This Midrash will be explained later.  According to the Baal Haturim a ladder is symbolic of money; it can take you up to the greatest of heights, or the deepest levels of immorality.  The Gemara Eruvin (41b) states that being poor makes someone susceptible to sin out of desperation.  However, if they are able to overcome it, the poverty will elevate them beyond the bonds of money, allowing them to concentrate on studying Torah and living their lives according to the Torah.  Wealth can have the same effect on people.  Both Moshe and Korach were extremely wealthy, but Moshe was able to ascend higher than any other person, and Korach descended lower than anyone in history, literally, partly due to his wealth which gave him power and he eventually grew such a hunger for power that he attempted to overthrow Moshe, which led to his demise.   Rav Frand demonstrates this through a story that once happened in a Sheitel shop in Baltimore.  A woman and her daughter were shopping in Sheitel shop and they found the perfect Sheitel for the mother.  The mother called over a saleswoman to ask for the Sheitel.  However, the saleswoman knew that the family was poor and that the Sheitel was out of their price range.  Feeling uncomfortable the saleswoman tried to talk the woman out of that particular Sheitel, but the woman persisted on getting that particular Sheitel.  Finally, the woman asked why the saleswoman was so intent on stopping her from getting that Sheitel, so the saleswoman responded that it was extremely expensive.   The woman replied that she could not afford any of the Sheitel in the store, so she might as well be happy.  After hearing this the 12 year old girl who had been listening the entire time, appeared very upset and asked her mother, why can’t we afford any of the Sheitels? Are we poor? I never knew that!  This shows how a family, truly freed from the bonds of money, can concentrate on living a Torah lifestyle and not be constrained by money in achieving happiness.  Non-Jews without Torah to channel their resources on are often bound by money, therefore, money is always a problem and never good luck.  If we can learn from Yaakov’s dream, and Moshe Rabeinu we can achieve happiness with or without money, and ladders should be a source of happiness and luck to us.

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