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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Who Knows?

Updated: Nov 10, 2021

In Parshat Vayeitzei, Jacob flees from the wrath of his brother. How alone he must have felt as he journeyed back toward his mother's homeland. Was he feeling powerless or powerful?

One can never know, but despite what he felt, during the night he was visited by a dream of angels descending and ascending a staircase and when he woke in the morning he knew that he was in a holy place. What does it mean to be in a holy place and not know it?

Thinking that the many places, perhaps any place we enter might be the gateway to heaven gives us a different perspective on our everyday lives. Perhaps this parsha gives an element of wonder and mystery to each door, each window and each person we meet?


Who knows?? That person next to you at Whole Foods or Home Depot

or your

office cubicle,

or on a plane,

or plastered

on a Zoom


may be

the messiah,

a Lamed Vavnik*,

or a Malach,

or Elijah the prophet,

or perhaps

just a person

in need

of your smile.

Your smile

opens locked doors

revealing the wonder

on the other side.

So smile

at him,

at her

and be



of spirit and be amazed at the potential of others you see.


Who knows?? The door, the window, the elevator you next open, might be



to heaven,

to Gan Eden,

to paradise,

to your

elusive dreams.

Who knows?

the celestial court

could be


the door

to your local


or homeless


The radiant angels


sing in harmony

on the other side

of the subway door


through the scuffed door

of that black Uber

might be the home

of the Shechinah,

so, think

before you enter.

Enter gently.

With humility.

Each and

every space

has the potential

to be holy


enter kindly,


without malice

and always, always, be amazed at the potential of what lies of the other side of that door.


“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. ....get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”

Abraham Joshua Heschel

* A lamed vavnik is one of the secret 36 people in the world who maintain the world and keep it going. For an article on what the legend of the lamed vavniks, go to:

He came upon a certain place and stopped there for the night, for the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of that place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place.

He had a dream; a stairway “ramp”; others “ladder.” was set on the ground and its top reached to the sky, and angels of God were going up and down on it.

Remember, I am with you: I will protect you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is present in this place, and I did not know it!”

Shaken, he said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the abode of God, and that is the gateway to heaven.”

Genesis 28:11,15-17 Translation from Sefaria

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