This week’s Torah portion, Parashat Vayetze, starts with Jacob camping for the night and resting his head on a stone to sleep. He dreams of a ladder stretching to the heavens, with endless angels ascending and descending the ladder (Genesis 28:10-12).
A religious person might say the angels represent how our requests and pleas and flow upward to God, and God’s attention and love and blessing flow back to us. A pre-med student might say that the angels symbolize electrons ascending into an excited state and then falling back down to their ground state.
When Jacob wakes up, he cries “Truly, God is in this place, and I — I did not know it!” (Genesis 28:17)
How often do we have the experience of being shocked out of our complacency to realize that this very moment is sacred? Maybe it’s when we see an out-of-this-world sunset, or when we attend the wedding of family member or close friend. These are the moments in which we are most open into realizing out connection with God. But they are not the only moments for such realization.
It is also possible to realize God’s presence in ordinary moments. When you wake up from a dream, eyes still heavy with sleep. When you’re sitting in class, bored. When you’re stressing about finals and the three term papers due this week. Truly, God is in this place, and I… I always forget. I know that I always forget.
But we can always choose to remember. How different would your day be if you made this reminder the screensaver on your phone, or a sticker on your laptop, or a magnet on your refrigerator? How much more meaningful would our lives be, if we realized God’s presence, in our prayers as well as our electron orbital theories? God is in this place. And this place. And this place. Even in our sorrows and anxiety, God is there, if we can only remind ourselves to take notice.
This article is part of Ha’Am’s Friday Taste of Torah column. Each week, a different UCLA community member will contribute some words of Jewish wisdom in preparation for Shabbat.