Pay it Forward: Become a Supporter of the Work. Learn More
It says in the portion Vayetze that Jacob has a dream, and then he wakes up. We know the dream; he sees the ladder and the angels going up and down. It says in both the Torah and the Zohar that Jacob wakes up from his sleep and says, as if he's upset at himself, “The Creator is here too! How did I not know that? God was here, the Light of the Creator was here… Why did I let myself sleep?”
So, the Zohar tells us that this place, both in physical space and time, for whatever reason, was destined to reveal great Light. But, is it surprising, even for Jacob, that he didn't know this was the moment and place where great revelations would happen? It doesn't make sense that he would be upset about that, because we never know when the moment or place will be when great Light is going to be revealed.
Therefore, it's surprising; why is Jacob beating himself up for not knowing that was such a powerful place and time? The Zohar says, and it's important we understand this, that there is a secret here of what Jacob is telling himself and of what he’s teaching us. Jacob wakes up and says, "I didn't know. I did not come to connect to what is called the face of the Creator.”
Rav Ashlag explains that when Jacob says "I didn't know,” it is like he is asking, "How can all of this have been revealed to me and I've not pushed myself to know more, to connect even more powerfully and strongly to the Light of the Creator, and to become perfected?” Rav Berg would always say that the word "know" in Hebrew, yedia,represents unification. Therefore, Jacob is saying, "This was here, and I was not awakened to a greater connection to the Light of the Creator." He's talking about after the revelation; he has already had his dream and awakening. He said, "All this has happened to me, and I have not pushed myself enough to connect, or pushed myself under the wings of the Shechinah to become perfected."
So, the Zohar is telling us that when Jacob wakes up and asks, "How did I not know?” what he’s really saying is, "How did I allow myself not to push so completely to become perfected, after what I just experienced? After I had this experience, how could I go back to being the same?” That's the secret. What Jacob is saying to himself, and it is really more for us than for him, is, "This just happened. How can I still be the same person? How can I not be pushing myself to perfection?" And what Jacob said to himself is something that we have to be saying to ourselves every day, all the time. What Jacob gives us on this Shabbat, and the secret of the words he is saying, the Zohar tells us, is an awareness of how we could have experienced what we experienced and not be pushing ourselves in a completely different way.
We should merit, with the assistance of Jacob and an understanding of what the Zohar is telling us, not falling to the same thing. We have to ask ourselves, “How can I, after all that has happened, go back to, or even a little bit better than, where I was?” Jacob tells us it can't be that we have that experience and then not push ourselves towards perfection, in a completely different and more powerful way.
I strongly recommend reading that section in the Zohar over and over, because it’s the awakening every single one of us needs. It cannot be that we had that experience and then went back. It cannot be that we had that experience and we’re not pushing ourselves in a completely different way to become perfected. It's very important to understand.