Sunday, January 13, 2019

There’s always time for hope - January 13, 2019

      I have noticed a trend in Reform Jewish worship in recent years.  

       At some regional and national conventions I have attended, leaders of some of the worship services leave out a prayer that expresses a sentiment which I believe to be all-important and foundational to Judaism. 

       That prayer is about hope. 

      I can hear and see in my mind the words of the prayer on this theme that we recited when I was a child. It followed “Va-anachnu” (we bend the knee...) and preceded “Bayom Hahu” (on that day, the Eternal shall be One and God’s name shall be one.” 

       Here is the paragraph from the 1940 revision of the Union Prayer Book (published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis/CCAR) that became ingrained in my memory and my soul (with a few emendations):   

  “May the time not be distant, O God, when Your name shall be worshiped in all the earth, when unbelief shall disappear and error be no more. Fervently we pray that the day may come when all people shall invoke Your name, when corruption and evil shall give way to purity and goodness, when superstition shall no longer enslave the mind, nor idolatry blind the eye, when all who dwell on earth shall know that to You alone every knee must bend and every tongue give homage. O may all, created in Your image, recognize that they are brothers and sisters, so that, one in spirit and one in fellowship, they may be forever united before Your. Then shall Your dominion be established on earth and the word of Your ancient prophet be fulfilled: The Eternal will reign forever and ever.” 

     Gates of Prayer (CCAR, 1975) and Gates of Repentance (CCAR, 1979) featured a slightly revised version of this prayer.  Mishkan T’filah (CCAR 2007) also includes a new rendering based on the texts of past prayerbooks. 

     No matter what the specific wording might be, this reading acts as a bridge between “We will bend our knee and bow and give thanks to the Holy One” and “On that day.”   In fact, in my view, it makes no sense to move from the first prayer to the second one without a reading in between that specifies what we believe to be the nature and character of “that day.”   

    I am certain that the omission of this prayer by some worship leaders is a matter of timing, based on a sense that, at that point, it is best to quickly press forward to conclude the service. 

      While leading music at a service at a regional rabbinic conference last year, I led my musical setting of  an alternative “hope” prayer, written by Rabbi Richard Levy, which was included in Mishkan T’filah.  Before I sang it, I said, “We are going to sing my melody to Rabbi Levy’s reading before moving on to the Kaddish prayer.  There is always time for hope.”  And we joined together, intoning these words: 

    “May we gain wisdom in our lives, overflowing like a river with understanding. Loved, each of us, for the peace we bring to others. May our deeds exceed our speech, and may we never lift up our hand but to conquer fear and doubt and despair. Rise up like the sun, O God, over all humanity. Cause light to go forth over all the lands between the seas. And light up the universe with the joy of wholeness, of freedom, and of peace.”     

    When I created the melody, I incorporated the Hebrew of “on that day” into the song as a refrain in the middle and at the end. (Here is a link to a live recording of the prayer/song): 


May We Gain Wisdom/Bayom Hahu - Music by Larry Karol - live at NewCAJE 2015 (with Cantor Martin Levson and Mitch Gordon)


     So what “hopes” for humanity and our world do these two readings have in common? 

  • Wisdom and understanding. 
  • An end to corruption, evil, and all types of idolatry,  coupled with the ability to conquer fear, doubt and despair. 
  • A sense of godliness and goodness in the belief and actions of all humanity 
  • Recognition of our common humanity in a spirit of unity and fellowship, that can lead to peace. 

    Should we really gloss over or omit these convictions from our worship?   Is it possible that we do because we no longer believe we can attain them? 

     Any service that I lead includes some version of this prayer for hope.  These prayers offer us inspiration to engender empathy and compassion within our communal life.  They direct us to overcome fear of “the other” and to try to discover the common threads that can bring together people who come from different backgrounds, faiths and viewpoints.   Even if the goals expressed in a prayer for hope seem to be out of our grasp, we can’t throw up our hands and give up.   

    In a song they wrote in 2010, folksingers Pete Seeger and Lorre Wyatt offered one reason why we can’t give up:   “When we look and we see things are not what they should be, God’s counting on me, God’s counting on you....Hoping we’ll all pull through.” 

   And, in the Sayings of the Rabbis/Pirkei Avot, Rabbi Tarfon offered another reason: “It’s not your duty to complete the work, but neither are free to neglect it.” 

    God is counting on us to keep working and hoping, so that others can continue our efforts in the future. 

   And I truly believe, even now, that we will all pull through. 



   


Friday, January 4, 2019

Faith evolves over the course of our lives - Column for Las Cruces Bulletin on January 4, 2019

       Everyone traverses a unique faith journey throughout his or her life.  

  I once attended a workshop on how our faith develops throughout our lives.  It was led by Kenneth Stokes, author of Faith is a Verb: Dynamics of Adult Faith Development.  

    Stokes defined faith as “finding meaning and purpose in life” within our accumulated experiences.   Through learning, joining, exploring, and developing/owning our own perspectives, our personal faith takes shape.  

    Finding our own sense of purpose can occur within the context of one or more religions or outside congregational life. We may undergo changes in what we believe as we search for greater meaning through rituals, experimentation, and performing acts of kindness and service for others.   

        My own family’s faith history is like that of many Jews who immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe.  My grandparents belonged to Orthodox congregations in Kansas City.   Orthodox Judaism follows Jewish law and tradition as it has been passed down for generations, with some reinterpretation by rabbis that might modify specific practices at home and in the community.  My grandparents kept Jewish dietary laws in their homes (only kosher meat, separation of meat and dairy foods and utensils, no pork or shellfish).  They likely did not work on the Sabbath (Saturday).  Boys became Bar Mitzvah at age 13 and men held the main leadership roles in the community. 

     When my brother Steve and I were young, my parents were members of a Conservative congregation. The Conservative movement views Jewish law and tradition as an obligation for its members to follow.  Conservative Judaism teaches the importance of Sabbath observance and keeping dietary laws.  This movement has, at times, decided on major changes in practice, such as opening to women the possibility of becoming rabbis, cantors (singers), and leaders in all aspects of congregational life.    

      When I was four years old, my parents joined a new Reform Jewish congregation in Kansas City, and, several years later, they became members of a larger Reform Temple, where they were active for forty years.  Reform Judaism views Jewish law as a guideline that can direct personal practice and inspire creativity. Early on, Reform Jewish leaders emphasized moral laws and prophetic teachings over and above preserving traditional forms of ritual (such as the dietary laws).   Women took on roles of leadership gradually, with the first woman rabbi being ordained in 1972.  As early as the 1880s, Religious School graduation ceremonies (Confirmation) at age 15 were for both boys and girls, with Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations being added over the last 60 years.  Worship featured choirs, musical accompaniment, and creative readings and translations of time-honored prayers (as distinguished from Orthodox practice). 

     Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan founded the Reconstructionist movement, which takes both a rational and a spiritual approach to Judaism, keeping many long-standing rituals while adding many innovations along the way.  Rabbi Kaplan’s daughter, Judith, was, in 1922, the first young woman to become Bat Mitzvah by leading part of a Sabbath service.   

    Over the years, I adopted traditional practices such as wearing a kippah/yarmulke and tallit/prayer shawl during worship and observing the Jewish dietary laws.  I made those decisions to further my own feeling of connection to my heritage and to God. 

    Each of us has the possibility of pursuing a quest for meaning and purpose in life. It is not only about what we believe, but about what we do to express those beliefs by ourselves or with a community. May we all find peace and hope along whatever road we choose. 






Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Musical Resistance - Preserving Hope and Kindness - original songs of recent years

 When I write in any medium, it is, first and foremost, my personal expression.  Whether prose, poetry, story, or song lyrics, it’s all the same.     

The songs offer something more through the combination of lyrics and melody.  It’s my way of putting what’s in my soul on the outside in a way that might resonate with others or, at least, make them think.   

Of the 17 songs I have written over the last two years, several of them focus on values mentioned in the title - hope and kindness - which are at the center of what I do as a rabbi. 

Here are the songs I would include on this “playlist”:

1) Or La-y’sharim - Light for the Upright - Adaptation/lyrics and music by Larry Karol 
This song was based on verses about light included in the Chanukah candlelighting guide, HANEROT HALALU, by Elyse Frishman, published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis.   I was intrigued by the symbol of light and the power of love.    I added a paraphrase of a well-known statement by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 
For lsongs on reverbnation, you can find the lyrics by clicking on the “dots” at the right of each song and the “lyric” link will be visible.  


2) If Not Now - Words by Stacey Z. Robinson, Music by Larry Karol 
Stacey Robinson, a wonderful poet/writer/liturgist and my music colleague, shared this poem after the tragic death of a demonstrator at the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August of 2017.   After seeing this posted online, I felt that I had to add music to it in order to offer my own statement.  I offer two versions - my multitrack recording and a live performance from the November 2017 Shabbat Shira conference held at Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute Camp in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. 


3) Strength and Shelter (Psalm 46)  Adaptation/lyrics and music by Larry Karol 
   Songs asking for strength and shelter from God are about persistence and endurance in most any situation.  Having a sense of God’s presence can sustain us as we take a stand based on values we prize.     

4) Inheritance (Psalm 37) Adaptation/English lyrics and music by Larry Karol 
“The meek/humble will inherit the earth.”  Admittedly, the first time I heard this phrase was not from bible study, or from the reference in the Sermon on the Mount in the New Testament.  It was quoted as “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit” in Paul Simon’s song, “Blessed.”   The word for “the meek,” ANAVIM, can also mean those who are humble.  Sometimes I think people in this world are losing their sense of the importance of humility in human behavior.   I have never believed that it’s only loud and brash voices that win the day. Humility can mean knowing that each person is not the be-all and end-all of existence.  It’s like the saying of Rabbi Simcha - I have two truths in my pockets: “I am but dust and ashes” and “for my sake, the world was created.”   Advocacy and communication, and how we treat each other, is about balane.  


5) A Song of Love and Justice (Psalm 101). Adaptation/English lyrics and music by Larry Karol 
   Sometimes I peruse the book of Psalms, looking for a particularly meaningful expressions of values. Psalm 101 speaks of kindness, justice, faithfulness, and integrity.   In my mind, this Psalm challenges us to stand with God and follow godly paths.   I turned one section of the lyrics into a dialogue with the divine representing that challenge: 

A song of love and justice

To You I will sing

When will You stand with me? 

When will you stand with Me?

I will walk with a heart full of hope

When will You follow me?

When will you follow Me? 

  I feel it must be mutual for this world to work the way it should. 

 “I’ve decided to stick with love” was a wonderful quote from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that seemed to echo some of the sentiments of Psalm 101.   I decided to incorporate his words into this song. 



6). Heart of the Stranger (An Immigrant Song)  Lyrics and music by Larry Karol 
  I had been thinking about writing a song in which I imagined that I was one of my grandparents, entering this country at a young age, hoping that the immigration official I encountered would be welcoming and kind rather than demonstrating cruelty that might have mirrored the hallmark of officials in the “old country” who had no use for Jews.    With the movement of so many people in this world at this time, seeking safety and freedom from threats to their lives and well-being back home, I wrote this song from the perspective of a child who knows his or her bible, think of the passages that ask commanded the Israelites to be kind to the stranger, because they knew the heart of the stranger.  I took the biblical quote to that effect from Leviticus 19, a verse I read every Yom Kippur afternoon.   This isn’t just a song of an immigrant - it’s a prayer, and it puts God alongside the person walking on his or her journey, hoping to find security and freedom.   


There will be more songs like this, without a doubt.   I offer these fruits of my musical creativity as an example of how music can embody the principles of our faith and the goals for our relationships with people whom we know, and others whom we don’t yet know, in this world that needs our hope and kindness. 

Monday, December 31, 2018

Listen...for the Oneness - A Poem/Prayer - for the Temple Beth-El Las Cruces January 19 Adelante Newsletter



Eternal God,
I declared again that you are One    
as I prepared for worship with my  
congregation on this coming Shabbat.
The Torah asks several times,
in the book of Deuteronomy,
for “Israel” to listen. 
I am Israel.  I am one among many who are Israel. 
I am Israel because my ancestry
is filled with generations
of members of the Jewish people. 
I am Israel because I am a struggler with You
as I look upon a world that does not always reflect
the relationships You want us to develop,
and the love You want us to extend to one another.
And I am listening.
I hear words that direct me to love You
and to love my fellow human beings.
I hear voices that cry for help and support.
I hear cries for freedom and
desperate prayers that call for an end
to oppression and hatred. 
I hear the sounds of my own community in prayer
singing together
Shema Yisrael: Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad.
No matter what the melody may be,
this declaration guides me. 
I call You our God, our YUD-HAY-VAV-HAY
because I believe that the letters in Your name
speak to the very essence of our existence:
BEING and BREATH.
The root word of Your name
means “is, was, will be”: EXISTENCE.
The letters themselves
can all be vowels that are quiet, even silent.
When spoken, they are like breathing,
expressing the self-contained rhythm
of our individual lives,
a rhythm which sustains all of us,
connecting us within a Oneness
that encompasses us all.
That Oneness is You. 
Some say that only You are real
and that we are actually inside of You.
Others say that You are an Intrinsic Presence
inside and outside each of us,
binding everything together
in ways which we recognize best
only when we close our eyes,
because we see only difference and division
when our eyes are open.
We often forget that,
when we say You are One,
we are professing connectedness
between one human being and another
and affirming our collective presence
in this world where we find ourselves,
trying to coexist in ways
that will prevent hurt and destruction.
Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad
is an admission that we have a responsibility to         
reflect and practice, in all that we do,
Your love, Your care, and Your compassion
as we walk through our daily journey.
Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad
demands of us not to shut each other out.
It challenges us to find paths to understanding,
to turn conflict into cooperation,
and to discover new ways to forge partnerships
that will truly make us one as You are One.
Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad
is a phrase that I have been saying and singing,
Eternal One, from my youngest days until now.
The sounds of many voices singing these words
as if they were one voice
stirs my soul
and reminds me that we have it within ourselves          
to truly connect with one another,                                 
to know one another,
and to accept one another
once and for all.
Be with us, Eternal, our God,
in whom we are One,
as we strive to create among us
some measure of the Unity
that is You.


Friday, December 28, 2018

Unconsumed - D'var Torah (An Original Midrash) for Parashat Sh'mot - December 28, 2018


     It was a hot day in the desert.   I did feel a trace of breeze blowing through my branches, but the air was still warm as it touched my leaves.
   There was very little movement around me.   I was mostly hidden from the shepherds passing by with their flocks.   The sounds of the sheep as they made their way forward always made me happy, reassuring me that there was growth and life all around me.
  One day, I felt a different wind engulf me. 
  It spoke to me.
  “Can you hear me?  Do you feel my presence?”
 I shook my leaves, as if to nod in acknowledgement.
  “You are a beautiful S’NEH (bush). You offer unique color to the terrain around you, here in this corner of the desert.”
   I had no idea why, all of a sudden, a voice addressed me.   I was speechless, as if I could talk at all, but I was overwhelmed.   Who was speaking to me?
   “Who are you?  It has been a hot but quiet day.  Why have you made your presence known to me?”
   “You don’t know?” Asked the voice.  “Certainly even a S’NEH such as you can recognize the One who created you.” 
    “My Creator?  You mean, you are.....the Eternal - the One who is always here?  The One has put life into my roots and branches and leaves?”
   “Yes, it is I who gives you existence now and who made your ancestors come to be.     I need something from you.”   The Eternal’s voice had a sense of urgency.
    “I know that you have heard the shepherds coming by with their flocks.  They rarely stop to see you.  I need one shepherd to see you.”  
     I was puzzled. “Eternal One, why would this particular shepherd need to see me?  And how will I get his attention?   I can’t cry out or shake my branches so that the sound will be heard all around.”  
     My Creator answered me, “I have a way to make you seem to be on fire.  You will have a brilliant appearance that will beckon this one man to come to see why you look like you are burning AND why the fire is not destroying you.”  
      “I will need him to see you because of the spectacle of your ability to defy being consumed by the fire.  You see, this man, Moses, was raised not too far away in Egypt by the rulers of the country.  He is not one of them.   He is a Hebrew. You have sensed the passing of Hebrews moving in the desert not too far from you from time to time.  Some of them are now slaves in Egypt.  They are made to do hard work, and if they don’t complete their daily tasks, they may be cruelly beaten, even killed.   Moses has fled because he was so angered when he saw a taskmaster beating a slave that he murdered the Egyptian to end the heartless treatment of one of his brethren.”
  “I need you need to teach Moses this lesson:  that even though it may seem that his people will be vanquished under the harsh labor of the Egyptians, they will not be.  Nothing, not even this level of cruelty, can consume them, just like the apparent fire will not consume you.  I will speak to him from your leaves and branches, and he will hear my voice, and he will know that I will be with him as I direct him to free his people from bondage.”
   I couldn’t believe this honor that my Creator would think to bestow upon me. 
“Eternal One, I am humbled by your request.   Please, do what you need to do, make Your presence known to Moses through me.  I will help you and Moses bring freedom to his people.”
   Moses came, and his people were freed with God’s help.
    And as for me...that glow from my Creator still remained.  And I realized how my life had changed.   I knew that, when people would tell this story, I would always be a symbol of the possibility of endurance and perseverance against seemingly insurmountable odds - but only if people would turn aside, open their eyes, and see that God always stands ready to carry them to a new place of promise and hope.  
     I pray from the depth of my roots that they will, in their time of need, turn aside, open their eyes, and see.



The Almond Tree - A new original midrash for the January 2019 El Paso Jewish Voice

    The Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden was wondering what had happened.  

    Everything was quiet.   There had been people there.  Two of them.  They were gone. She asked the Tree of Knowledge if he knew why there had been a change.   He told her to speak to the Eternal One.  

    “Eternal One!” 

    There was silence.  Then there was a voice. 

    “Yes, my Eitz Chayim, did you call?” 

    “Why is it so quiet?  Where did the people go? Did I do something to make them leave?”  The Tree of Life was extremely concerned. 

     The Eternal One reassured her, “No, Tree of Life.  You did nothing wrong.  They did, though.  I had told them not to eat of your fruit or the fruit of your companion, the Tree of Knowledge.  They did eat his fruit, and it opened their eyes in a way that made it impossible for them to stay here.”  

      Eitz Chayim replied, “My Creator, I am sad.   I was actually getting to like having them around.  Where did they go?  Will they be safe?”  

     The Eternal One was reassuring, “Yes, they will be secure.  They will have to work hard to survive.  I will be watching them and inspire them to grow when necessary.  Don’t worry about them.” 

      Eitz Chayim was not convinced. “Source of all life, I AM worried.   Will they always realize You won’t be far away from them while they are living in their new home?  Will they be able to overcome their fears and to live and thrive?  Will they make the right decisions for their future?   They might need a lot of assistance. I want to help!” 

      The Eternal One thought for a moment.  “Eitz Chayim, would you like to be closer to them?” 

      “Yes, my Creator, Yes!”   

     The Omnipresent One looked intently at the Tree of Life, causing a soft wind to move her leaves on her branches.  “I have a proposal for you.  I will send you out into the world.  There will be many other trees out there.  You will make friends with them.  You will guide them.  You will be My eyes and ears to make sure that the people - and there will be many of them - will treat my plants and creatures with great care.   They will tend to you, help you grow, and make more trees grow like you.   You will be called an almond tree - SHAKED, or, in your case, SH’KEYDIAH - and they will make many of you in all of the places where you can grow.”   

      “And I will give you a special gift.   Some of the people will follow a man named Moses, who will lead them to freedom after hundreds of years of enduring cruel slavery.   I will instruct Moses, their leader, to have them make a seven-branched symbol of light that will look like you.   It will feature shapes of almond blossoms on top.  And you, my Eitz Chayim, will be able to watch them (SHAKAD) day and night not only through all your tree children, but in any place where their light symbol - the Menorah - will stand in the special houses where they will worship Me and pray about taking care of the world - including you - and each other.”   

      “Really, Eternal One?  That is so kind of you.  I will do what you ask!”  The Tree of Life was excited about her new existence among the people.  

      “And...one more thing.  When it gets cold in the places where you grow, you will be the first tree to show your blossoms.  That will so amaze the descendants of Moses and his people that they will celebrate a New Year of Trees.   It will be called Tu Bish’vat.  It will be a day to remind them to care for the world, including you and your fellow trees, because this is the only world they will have.” 

      The Eitz Chayim was ready.  “My Creator, I will watch them and guide them. I promise!  Lead me to my new home!”  

     

Friday, December 21, 2018

A Patriarch's Legacy - A Midrash - D'var Torah - Parashat Vay'chi - December 21, 2018


Jacob had just finished blessing his grandchildren 

And was preparing to speak to his children to tell them of their future. 

He was alone, in the comfort of his quarters in Egypt

Provided by his son Joseph
Not only for him
But for his entire family
That had come down from Canaan
In the second year of a famine.
They would live.  They would survive.
Jacob was relieved.  
Yet, he still remembered the message
Passed down to him from his parents and grandparents.
God had told his grandfather,
"Know now that your descendants shall be strangers in a land not theirs;
they shall be enslaved and afflicted for four hundred years.
But then I will bring judgment upon the nation they are serving;
after that they shall go out with many possessions.”
But, for the moment, Jacob felt safe where he was, as he knew his death neared.
He was weary as the night came.
And he fell asleep.
He had a dream.
He was on a ladder.  
He remembered, “I have seen this ladder before.
But I was standing below.   Now I am high above the ground.
I have ascended.  But why?  How did I get here?”
He didn’t realize that another presence was with him.
“You climbed the ladder, Jacob.  I wasn’t sure you would.”
It was God. 
Jacob couldn’t see the Eternal, but he could sense
That God was speaking from above.
“What was I supposed to do, my Creator? 
You showed me this ladder when I was young,
Just after I had left my home to escape the wrath
Of my brother Esau.   I realized that stepping onto the ladder
Meant that I needed to live.  I couldn’t be immobilized and stuck
In my fear and trepidation.”
God was impressed.  “Jacob, or should I say, Israel, you have done well.”
Jacob was doubtful at this evaluation, even from the Eternal One.
“My God, I deceived my brother Esau, and when he sincerely asked me
To come with him, I declined.  I favored one wife over another.
I then favored the children of Rachel over the others. 
And I realize now that the rivalry of my life, with my brother,
was passed down to my children.  The consequences
could have been disastrous.”
God was silent, and then spoke.
“Jacob - Israel - you have a new name because you were willing to struggle
To reunite with your brother.   It wasn’t about following him.
It was about facing him, even once, where you could be yourself,
Confident, courageous, comfortable in your own skin.
And you now know that what appeared to be a tragic end for Joseph
Was part of a plan to bring your family to safety in Egypt.
How do you think Joseph was able to succeed without you
as an exemplar?   No, you weren’t perfect. 
But your relationships that could have been forever tinged with deceit
Found a resolution.
Even with the favoritism you extended to one wife and her children,
You were a dedicated father who supported and preserved your entire
Household.    You struggled with my angel and prevailed.
You struggled with life, even with moments of mourning and sadness,
Even when your some of your children did not do what you wished.
You are still here.  You and the generations of your family are all together.   What more could you want?”
Jacob was not yet convinced.  “Eternal One, how will my descendants think of me?   Will they only see the deception that began in my childhood?  Or will there be something more that they will remember?”
God was reassuring.
“Jacob, Israel, my child,
You have ascended this ladder because of all the good you have done.
You have loved.
You have pursued your goals with passion.
You have met challenges in your life with perseverance.
You have looked upon your grandchildren, held them and blessed them.
That blessing was not only a passing on of your faith, but an expression of gratitude.   
Remember, a long time ago, you declared,‘If God is with me and watches over me on this path that I am taking and gives me bread to eat and clothes to wear, and if I return safely to my father's house, then will the Eternal be my God.’ 
Jacob, I never heard that as a lack of faith or trust in me. 
You didn’t know how your life would unfold, but here you are.
You are still dreaming of Me and how I have been with you
And I am with you now.
Look down.”
Jacob looked below and saw his whole life laid out as if it was a landscape.
God told him,
“This is who you have been, and who you have become.
Do you know what your children’s children and their descendants
will call themselves?
B’nai Yisrael - the children of Israel - Your children.
They will remember you as family, as an ancestor – a patriarch - who had a vision that, in many ways, he was able to realize.  
Don’t get off this ladder, Jacob.  History needs you to keep climbing.”
“I won’t get off, Eternal One. 
I will hold on tight and move up, rung by rung.”
Suddenly, Jacob awoke in his bed.  He was in Egypt, with his family.
Night had become morning. 
The promise of his dream earlier in life
Had become a legacy he had passed to his children and grandchildren.
He knew that they would thrive.  They would face challenges to their very well-being.
But they would live and climb up their own ladder
Rung by rung.