Sometimes we find reminders of God’s presence in our lives in the strangest settings. In this week’s Torah portion, Jacob’s reminder takes place while sleeping on a stone pillow in the middle of the wilderness. In this dry barren field, Jacob dreams of a ladder reaching from earth to heaven. When he awakens from his dream, he has an epiphany and declares, “Surely, God is in this place and I — I did not know.”
According to a midrash (Jewish lore), Jacob also did not know that he was not the first patriarch to stumble upon this holy place. Our rabbis teach that this very same site, where Jacob unwittingly encounters God, is where Abraham bound Isaac for the sacrifice. In the story of the “Binding of Isaac,” the site is referred to as har (which means mountain). Then later, Isaac refers to this site as sadeh (which is the field where Isaac directs his son Esau to hunt him some game). Finally, the rabbis teach, this exact site becomes the location of the holy Temple in Jerusalem.
A mountain, a field, a temple, a dream. . .each of these references to sacred encounters in the same location remind us that no one person, faith or practice has a monopoly on how connect to God. As this week continues to unfold, may each of us find a connection to God in our own way, in our own place and our own time.