In a hurry to get packed and head out of town this weekend for a special occasion, I neglected to send out my weekly musing on the parasha. In many ways, this turned out to be a fortuitous set of circumstances. I traveled out of town to attend the service and celebration attendant upon the son of a family friend becoming a bar mitzvah. This exceptional young man offered a d’var Torah on Saturday morning that took an angle I don’t think I would have ever considered on my own. My thanks to Mischa Cohen Rothko for this amazing insight.
In his dvar, he was examining the well-known question of the order of verbiage of the direction of travel of the angels in Yaakov’s dream – going up and down. His own personal interest in a particular subject is responsible for a different take on this question. That particular subject is roller coasters-something that also has ups and downs. He recalled being puzzled by the expression "the ups and downs of life" because the "downs" always seemed to be referred to in the negative. Hid experience as a roller coaster aficionado is quite different. It’s the going down that is the high point, the point of greatest exhilaration and happiness. The going up, on the other hand, is full of trepidation, uncertainty, and is, often, a boring and unsatisfying aspect of the experience.
He further suggested that if we think of ourselves as the angels, then the going up part-the part where we are going to meet and connect with G"d and get our instructions would be the part more fraught with peril. Coming down, we are joyfully exuberant with our assigned tasks.
For angels, perhaps, coming *down* to earth from their comfortable heavenly abode might be a bit of a let-down, so they might be quite eager for the ascent rather than the descent. For we human beings, the ascent seems scary, difficult, for some not even possible. We don’t know what’s "up there." We’re scared of what we might find (or not find.) Yet, if we can make the arduous upward journey, the reward of the descent can be truly great.
In these difficult times, when our perilous ascent to the top of the financial volcano has reached the summit and we are now plummeting down, we might do well to consider that this might actually be the best part of the ride. Hold on tight, or throw your arms up in the air, but find a way to enjoy the ride – and remember that it’s the energy of this descent that will power us through the next series of ascents and descents. I hope president-elect Obama can build a sturdy chain-lift (or, being a man of the 21st century, maybe a newer coaster technology like a linear induction catapult) to get our coaster up the hill.
This is, at best, a brief summation of a much longer dvar Torah, and I hope I’ve gotten the basic interpretation being suggested right. Thanks, Mischa, for your inspired out of the box thinking. You may yet stand the world on its head. I couldn’t think of anyone better to accomplish the task.
Shavua Tov to all,
©2008 by Adrian A. Durlester
Remember, you can always find my musings on my website, www.durlester.com, or at my blogs migdalorguysblog.blogspot.com or migdalor.spaces.live.com.