One of the most memorable images in this week’s parshah is the ladder “planted on the ground, its top reaching into the heavens.” The Midrash explains that this dream about the ladder was symbolic of two of Yaakov’s descendants: Moshe, who ascended into Heaven, symbolized by the top of the ladder, and Korach, who was swallowed up by the earth, symbolized by the ladder ”planted on the ground.”
Rav Mordechai llan, in Midkash Mordechai, explains that Hashem was showing Yaakov an analogy of the essence of Klal Yisroel. The Torah compares Klal Yisroel both to dust and the stars. The ladder is the perfect metaphor for Klal Yisroel. No one remains standing in one place on a ladder; it is used for either going up or down. There is no standing in the middle. Standing still is stagnation – and stagnation is in itself going down. The dream of the ladder teaches us that we must be moving spiritually in an upward direction, always growing closer to Hashem. Indeed, this is a trait that we should instill in our children.
However, there is another lesson as well: A ladder has many rungs. We should realize that it matters more that we are moving upwards than the height of the rung that we are currently standing on.
Each one of our children is standing on a different “rung,” be it their academic/intellectual level or their spiritual side. As parents, the key is not to focus on the rung but on our child’s desire for growth and the growth itself. This is the secret for building self-confidence in our children and raising their self-esteem. This is the key to unlock the potential of Yaakov’s dream of the ladder reaching to the heavens.
Please keep this thought in mind as we discuss our children’s progress during this week’s parent-teacher conference. Let us focus on our children’s growth and how we can promote it together in our partnership to foster self-confidence and their pride in every step upwards, no matter how small.
Rabbi Gidon Goldberg
Head of School