"And Jacob arrived in a [familiar] place and spent the night there, since the sun had already set. He took some stones and placed them around his head and lay down to sleep. He had a vision within a dream: A ladder was standing on the ground, and its top reached up to the heavens. G‑d's angels were ascending and descending on it." (Gen. 28:11-13)

Jacob embodies the quality of tiferet, which is associated with Truth. It is a perfect blend between the gevura of his father Isaac and the chesed of his grandfather Abraham. It is more than just a blend; it is a complete new entity in the world. Like truth, which never wavers or changes, Jacob conducted himself in a consistent manner his whole life. Even when he faced difficult challenges and it seemed as if G‑d was hiding from him, his G‑dly service was always consistent and unwavering. "Happy is the one who toils in learning Torah and is a source of delight to G‑d." (Berachot 17a) Jacob followed this advice, trying always to be a source of delight to G‑d. Therefore his G‑dly service was strong and consistent, always focused. This was the quality needed to be the father of the twelve tribes, the cornerstone of the Jewish nation.

When night fell, Jacob prayed the Evening Prayer and put his head down for an hour of sleep, until it was time to arise for study and meditation until the Morning Prayer at sunrise. Jacob did this every night, not out of mindless habit, but because his service was conscious and committed. He strove to serve G‑d in truth, and every day he succeeded a little more until he became a perfect vessel for G‑d's service. This is the essence of tiferet - truth.

It is a time honored custom of Jews to sleep not only on Shabbat, but also before Shabbat in preparation for the holy day. Rabbi Shlomo Karliner said that this pre-Shabbat nap is of such importance that he is surprised that it wasn't included as part of the Ten Commandments! Reb Chaim Meir and his nephew Reb Baruch were fleeing the Nazis across the Romanian border…

Rabbi Chaim Meir, the previous Vishnitzer Rebbe, successfully fled the Nazi inferno of WWII. Once it was Shabbat Eve and Reb Chaim Meir and his nephew Reb Baruch were fleeing the Nazis across the Romanian border through a field of tall wheat. Suddenly Reb Chaim Meir stopped and announced that it was Shabbat Eve, and one must sleep in order to be well rested for the service of the holy day. As his nephew looked on in utter astonishment, Reb Chaim Meir laid down amongst the wheat stalks, shut his eyes, and actually fell asleep for a few minutes. He then jumped up and they continued their flight across the border.

Consistency is the mark of a tzadik. One becomes a tzadik through consistent divine service. In the beginning it comes through effort, in the end it comes as a gift from G‑d. Our inheritance from Jacob is the ability to stay on the path, increasing the level of service every day. G‑d's gifts are bestowed on those who exert themselves to serve Him. Through this type of service one can become ". . .a ladder standing on the ground, whose top reaches up to the heavens", one whose feet are firmly planted on the ground while his head and heart soar in the heavens, rapt with the splendor of the Divine presence.

(First published in B'Ohel Hatzadikim, Vayeitzei 5762)