How to Have Super Powers

He saw his cousin, Rachel. That vision gave him super strength. And it was not just because she was pretty! Let's examine this.

This was not Jacob's first encounter with a stone. As he was fleeing Esau's threat, he came to a place to be called Bet El, and slept there. He put a stone under his head, and then dreamed a great prophecy of a ladder stretching from Earth to Heaven, with angels ascending and descending. God then appeared and promised Jacob that He will be with him as he goes to his mother's home town, and that He will return him to The Promised Land after all has blown over.

Jacob, upon awakening, takes the stone he slept upon and makes it into an altar. He then promises that, if God will fulfill His pledge and give him protection and bring him back home, then this stone will become a House of The Lord. Indeed, this would some day be the site of the Holy Temple.

This "promise" Jacob makes is hard to understand, because he conditions it on God fulfilling His word. Is there even a question? God's word is as good as done. What was Jacob doubting?

Jacob was doubting himself. The vision he saw in his dream was no less than a clear representation of the way this world works. There is a physical element, the Earth, and a spiritual element, Heaven. Heaven, the spiritual part of our existence, has the power to defeat any physical limitations. Viktor Frankl, the psychologist who was a prisoner in Auschwitz during the Holocaust, sought to understand how the prisoners, in flimsy garments and suffering from malnutrition, could stand for hours in the Polish winter at roll call and still survive. He came to the conclusion that a spiritual sense of purpose, an overpowering Why, gives a man the power to deal with almost any obstacle and find the How.

Jacob, in distinction from his father, knew his lot was to live in the physical world. Isaac had been deeply sheltered, by his parents and by God, and his interactions with the mundane were none too successful. God had to intervene for him quite a bit. For Isaac to be spiritual was relatively easy, as his whole life had been spirituality. But for Jacob, it was not so clear. His brother Esau was completely "Earthy", and he knew he'd have to deal with all types.

So I believe Jacob doubted himself. He doubted that he would keep the "stones", the earthiness, connected to the "Heaven", his spiritual direction. He was afraid that the ladder he saw in the vision would disappear. Thus, he conditions his promise on God helping him, being with him, keeping him connected.

Thus we see the significance of the stone. It represents the earthy part of our existence. On its own, it is heavy, almost unliftable. But when a powerful spiritual call is heard, the earthy must yield. Jacob, as he first arrives at the well, inquires about his mother's family in town. He is told by the local shepherds that, indeed, they know his uncle Lavan, and behold his daughter, Rachel, is now approaching with his flocks.

So Jacob knows who this pretty girl is! She is his cousin, and she is someone whom his parents have urged him to find to marry. He sees, in that instant, that God is truly with him, and that he has fortuitously come to the right place. Jacon's Ladder is still in place. The excitement of that discovery powers his lifting of the stone.

And so it is with all of us. Our worlds our filled with earthy challenges, with heavy stones to lift. If we are depressed and doubtful, they are heavier still. But if we are inspired with a spiritual mission, if we are overjoyed by the faith that God is connected to us, those stones become light. We can lift them, we can be superhuman.

So it is with the State of Israel, which by all logic should not exist. Surrounded by hostile nations that outnumber her by 30:1, she should never have been able to survive th onslaught. And yet here she is, growing and thriving! That is only because of Jacob's Ladder, of the power of the spiritual connection. As long as the Jewish People sense

Using Emotions to Make Decisions

Esau and Jacob were very different voice. Esau was a hunter, a man of the fields. Jacob was a scholar, a man of the tents. Their parents also differed on their approach to the boys: "Isaac loved Esau, for his hunting was in his mouth. And Rebekah loved Jacob." Later in life, when Isaac came to give the blessing of the firstborn to Esau, Rebekah engineered Jacobs receiving that blessing through deception. It is this story that is the most edifying, so we shall look at it in great depth.

Isaac told Esau to go out into the fields and hunt for him a feast. Thereupon, Isaac would give the blessing to Esau. Esau duly went out to do his father's bidding, while Rebekah overheard the entire exchange. She called Jacob in quickly, encouraged him to pose as Esau and receive the blessing. This could work because Isaac had grown blind at this point in his life.

The trick works, Isaac is fooled and gives the blessing to Jacob. Just as he leaves, Esau arrives with his feast. When he hears his father tell him that someone else had come and received the blessing, Esau is distraught. He begs his father for some blessing, any blessing. After Isaac gives him a secondary blessing, he leaves his father's tent with a promise upon his lips: to kill his brother Jacob after his father Isaac has departed.

Along with the sale of Joseph, this is one of the tragic tales of the book of Genesis. I wish to understand one thing. Why did Isaac require Esau to bring him hunted meat in order to bless him? Was physical enjoyment so important to Isaac? That is certainly impossible to believe. And yet, as in the quote above, we know that Isaac's love for Esau was due to his "hunting in his mouth." What was the significance of this?

Now, Esau was, according to our sages, an evil person. He stole, he killed. We see this in his desire to kill his brother after his father passes away. Why, then, does Isaac wish to bestow the blessing upon him? Why does Rebekah have to conspire with Jacob to get the blessing for him, who truly deserves it? What was Isaac thinking?

I had an intriguing thought on this: perhaps Isaac knew all along that Esau was not nearly as righteous as Jacob, and that he did commit violent acts. Perhaps he also saw that Esau had potential, that he could repent and become a great person. I know people who were completely out of control in their high school years, who became very serious and respected teachers of Torah. I wonder if Isaac was not trying to nudge Esau in that direction.

Very often, responsibility changes in person. The incident early in their lives when Jacob got Esau to sell him his birthright in exchange for some lentil soup may have been what set the tragedy of Esau in motion. Perhaps had Esau kept the birthright, and the responsibility of leadership that comes with it, he might have developed into a different man. As it was, after Jacob had procured it, Esau walked away "and despised the birthright."

According to a rabbinical source, when Isaac sent Esau to get the hunted meat for him, he included a proviso that the meat not be stolen. Firstly, this interpretation indicates that Isaac was aware of Esau's behavior. Secondly, it seems to me that this might be a test. Isaac knew that Esau excelled in honoring him, and this gave him great satisfaction and hope. Perhaps, even if in the outside world he misbehaved, is respect and honor for his father might transform him. It might indicate that there is strong good within him. Thus, Isaac gave him a simple instruction: nothing stolen.

And when he returned, he returned with stolen goods. The blind Isaac senses the opening of purgatory the moment Esau enters. When Jacob had entered, Isaac had smelled the aroma of the Garden of Eden. In the Garden of Eden, there was no theft. Everything belonged to Adam and Eve. But purgatory is for sinners. Thus, Isaac knew that Esau had failed the test, and he then reaffirmed the blessing for Jacob. He had hoped to reform his older son, but realized it was not happening.

I wish to add a new twist to this whole story. Our sages tell us that there are two types of love: 1. A love which is dependent upon a physical factor. 2. A love which is not dependent upon anything physical at all.

The first half of love lasts only as long as that physical factor does. Then it can turn into hate or indifference. The second type of love will last forever. I believe that Isaac and Rebekah represent these two types of love. Isaac loved Esau for a reason, because of the "hunting that was in his mouth," because of his deep respect for his father. An alternative translation of the phrase, "because of the hunting that was in his mouth," could be "as long as the hunting was in his mouth." The word "ki" can mean "because" and it can also mean "during" or "as long as."

I believe that Isaac loved Esau for deep psychological reasons, although he knew intellectually that it was not a well-placed love. Nonetheless, he sought out physical reasons, signs of hope, indications of a goodness that was not there, to justify the love. And, perhaps with the right influence, Esau might have been reformed. Had Jacob not bought his birthright, had the blessing been delivered as planned, maybe Esau would've stepped up to the plate. Much later, when Jacob is returning to the land of Israel, he hides his daughter Dina, lest Esau desire for a wife. Some rabbis are critical of this, claiming that she would have succeeded in reforming him. It is speculation, although Esau did moderate as he aged.

Rebecca, on the other hand, loved Jacob unconditionally. The Torah as no criteria that caused it. That is the difference. A strong emotion can be an indication of a true course of action, as long as the emotion is not accompanied by nagging doubts, and as long as it does not require any justification. Rebecca's internal sense was that Jacob was thoroughly good, and Esau was not. Isaac wanted to loved Esau and favor him, and had to justify it by his remarkable honoring of his father. That wasn't enough.

So be careful when the emotions are not pure, when you feel you need to justify them to choose a course of action. Many women married men who were abusive in nature by justifying their love and grasping at straws to believe that they are not the monsters they are. On the other hand, a true emotion, with no doubts and no need of justification, is a true indication of where the heart is and should be taken seriously.