Ever Since Babel

Jun 4th, 2010 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week
Ever since Babel we have been wondering about ladders and towers that reach the heavens. The first ladder to heaven didn’t turn out very well. The next one, in Jacob’s dream was awesome, but it was only a dream. The actual ladder does not appear until this week’s portion, smack in the middle of a disaster:

“We shall surely ascend!”(Numbers 13:30) “Even were Moshe to command us to build ladders to heaven, we could do it!” (Rashi)

What a moment to speak about our ability to build a ladder to heaven! (Guilty!!!) Would these people, complaining and crying, be any better than those who worked on the Tower of Babel? These people were as confused as anyone since God’s response to Babel. Did Caleb believe that they were capable of repairing one of the most disastrous sins in history?

Yes, Caleb believed that this moment, when everyone was caught up in fear and sin was the perfect moment for them to build Jacob’s ladder.

A person who can catch himself while in the passion of sin and redirect that passion toward God; he can achieve the spectacular. Caleb presented the people with an opportunity for greatness beyond anything they had achieved, including Revelation and building the Mishkan!

That one moment of passionate rebellion against God was an opportunity to build their ladder, Jacob’s ladder, and repair the sin of the Tower of Babel.

Caleb saw the opportunity for greatness, not despite the sin, but in the sin itself!

Imagine what we could accomplish if we used Caleb’s approach with ourselves. What would happen if husbands and wives understood that the moments of passionate arguments are opportunities to build ladders to heaven? How much would change if we responded to children who are labeled “troublemakers” with Caleb’s approach! I think we would succeed in building Jacob’s ladder in real life, not a dream.

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