Our Biblical ancestor Jacob dreams of a ladder, planted on earth and reaching to heaven, with angels of God ascending and descending. As the Besht sees it, the dream shows Jacob a first glimpse of his spiritual life.
Reality, says the Besht, is twofold: manifest physical reality (yesh) and hidden divine reality (ayin). Everyday perception notices only physical reality; spiritual perception sees only the divine. Human spiritual development is an effort to unite these two realities.
We elevate (ha’alah) the significance of the ordinary through study and intentional action. We draw (hamshachah) elusive divine energy into our psyches through prayer and meditation. We raise up; we draw down. We range along the rungs (madregot) of a metaphorical ladder. Sometimes we climb to spiritual perception; sometimes we fall to everyday perception.
What might this look like in daily practice?
I answer that question in an 18 minute video. The teaching begins with Jacob’s dream; fast-forwards through 3,000 years of intellectual history; and concludes with a technique for elevating the ordinary so that it can be used to drawn down the divine. Watch.
Image: Ladders by Dan, FreeDigitalPhoto.net. Video: Guest sermon at Canadian Memorial United Church, November 2014. Background information on the Besht: Rachel Elior