The great gift of human consciousness is perception, the ability to see. We are blessed with excellent sight. Yet, how often do we realize later that what we thought we saw was not accurate, that our first impressions are wrong, or that we only see a portion of the picture, not the whole thing. Eyewitness testimony is often inaccurate. Our perceptions of others, of our world, and of our reality is often painfully inaccurate.
But Jacob seems to be blessed with a deep perception of the hidden spiritual realities hidden within day-to-day existence. At the beginning of this week’s parsha, Jacob is fleeing the Land of Israel to escape his brother. He lays down to sleep, and dreams of a ladder with spiritual beings ascending and descending the ladder. Upon awakening he says, “Surely the LORD is present in this place, and I did not know it! Shaken, he said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the abode of God, and that is the gateway to heaven.” (Genesis 28:16-17)
As he passes out of the Land of Israel, he perceives God’s presence and the Land’s holiness. He marks it with a stone and calls the place Beit El, the House of God. At the end of the parsha, after 20 years of servitude to Laban, his father in law, Jacob confronts Laban for his unfair treatment and negotiates a pact of peace. He makes another stone marker and calls this place mizpah, the place where God sees.
We are called the Congregation of Jacob, and the Children of Israel, not the Children of Abraham or Isaac. Perhaps this is because Jacob had the ability to see things as they truly are; to see the holiness in life, and God’s workings in the world. May find the ability to see the holiness in our lives and sanctify God’s presence through our actions.
~Rabbi Dean Kertesz