November 20, 2017, Israel
Drawing depicting the Patriach Ya'akov, (Jacob) with his stones at Beth El, a place you can visit in Israel today.
Dreams, some people never dare to dream. And those that do rarely follow up on it. My father spoke of dreams, and he was a dreamer himself. He dreamed both in the sense of a vision, an ambition and literally. I recall him speaking of being reunited with dear family members, long since departed from this existence.
I recall my father speaking in the synagogue when I was only a boy, he spoke of dreams, of Jacob and of our own dreams. So many years ago. I can see him, in our synagogue where I grew up, where I had my bar mitzvah, where my grandfather Rabbi Isaac Klein spoke, where I first read from the Torah.
My father taught me to dream and he taught me to read the Torah each time as if I had never read it before, "Let the words speak to you, let them jump out at you." With tears in my eyes I recall my father's wise words.
So this week we read the portion of the Torah where Father Ya'akov, Jacob, has his dream. He is seeking a place to sleep, he lies down and the heavenly vision appears to him.
"And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth and the top of it reached to the heaven. and behold the messengers (angels) of God ascending and descending on it. And behold God stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Avraham (Abraham) your father, and the God of Yishaq (Isaac), and the land upon which you are lying I will give to you, and to your descendants, and your descendants shall be as numerous as the dust of the earth and they shall spread to the west, to the east, to the north and to the south and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And behold I am with you, and I will guard you wherever you go and I will return you back to this land for I will not leave you until I have done that which I have spoken to you about.
And Yaakov woke up from his sleep and said, Surely God is in this place but I had not known it." (Bereshith, Genesis, Chapter 28)
I have read this passage countless time but this time I felt something different, something profound and yet simple. If we simply read the words we can see an amazing logic unfold, a business plan if you will, a plan for success. It is all written here, thousands of years ago, if you know how to read.
Let's take it step by step.
The dream - We begin with a dream, a vision. You want to start your own business, you want to be a Krav Maga instructor, you want to build something. "And he dreamed", we begin with a dream, you must have the dream. You must know where you want to go with this. Before you have any of the details sketched out you have your vision.
The ladder - A ladder is a way to go from one place to another, it is a way to ascend, to climb. We want to climb the ladder of success but often we forget to bring the ladder. Jacob starts with a dream, good start but not enough. Many people stop at this stage. I have a dream to open a coffee shop, but what next? Where is your ladder? Are you taking a business course? What are you doing about it? Where is your ladder.
Our next step after our initial vision is to find the correct ladder, the means to the end, the path to achieve our goal.
Solid Foundation - "and behold a ladder set up on the earth". Having a ladder is essential but you must make sure you have a solid foundation, that you have "both feet on the ground". If you are going to climb what is the first thing you do? Make sure the ladder is solid and make sure that it is on solid ground. Often I want to pick oranges but the ground is wet and soft, or the terrain is unsteady. That is not a solid foundation for a ladder, it can tip and fall. Before you start any business plan make sure your path, your ladder, is based on solid foundations. Do not base your plan on faulty information.
Where did you get your statistics? On what are your projections based?
Goal Oriented - "and the top of it reached to the heaven". We start with a vision, we develop a ladder, a path, we make sure it is on solid foundation but we must also keep a focused goal.
Look at many conversations; they start on one topic and quickly go off course. They lose their direction and focus and thus become a total waste of time. That is the same as many business, they get bogged down with all sorts of distractions, "putting out fires", and lose focus of the goal. Jacobs' ladder had its "head touching the heavens".. The base of the ladder was on the ground but its head was touching the heavens. This is how our business plan should be.
You may say you want your life plan to be natural and "wherever life takes me I shall go", and that is fine. But if you have a goal, a vision that you want to achieve, then you must have that goal clearly defined. Your ladder must reach your goal.
Traffic - "And behold, messengers of God, (angels), are ascending and descending upon it. "
Once we have set our vision, built our enterprise upon a solid foundation, stayed goal oriented, we shall see traffic coming our way, quality customers.
People often wonder, why am I not getting traffic? Well, did you provide a good ladder for your customers? This ladder is not only your ladder to success it is also the ladder your customers will travel on. This ladder for them is the quality service you provide. Maintain that ladder, have regular maintenance checks, make sure your business is up to date.
If you are a doctor have you read the latest research? If you are a Krav Maga instructor do you have all the latest DVDs?
If you want traffic make sure you provide easy access for them, and safe travels. Keep your aircraft in top shape!
Quality endorsements - "And behold God is standing above it". Once Jacob achieved this state of purity God himself appeared. But notice the order: first the dream, the vision, then the ladder, then the placement of the ladder upon correct and solid foundations, then the angels, the messengers and only then are we informed that God himself is standing over this operation. There is a logic to this order. God does not appear to you until you have done your work. "and God said, I am the Lord God of Avraham (Abraham) your father, and the God of Yishaq (Isaac), and the land upon which you are lying I will give to you"
Once you have done your work then God appears and speaks to you and says, I have been here all along, I was with your father and grandfather, but I was waiting for you to join me in this project. I am here. Now that you have begun this project, this journey, I will help you.
We often see that lucky people get all the breaks. Successful people seem to draw success. The fact is lucky people create their own success. People are drawn to them. Once Jacob had created his ladder God appears and tells him, this vast land shall be yours, your seed/decedents shall burst forward in all directions and I myself shall oversee everything and protect you. I am guaranteeing this operation from this point onward.
Give back - Later on we read that Jacob makes a pledge, "everything you give me I shall make a tithe to you". The lesson is do not be greedy. Do not think that success is your "right", if success comes your way, be grateful, give back a portion to those that need it and more will come your way.
This is not a new business plan. This goes back to our earliest history. It is a guide, a plan, for success in life.
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