Today, Rabbi Haim Ovadia gave an interesting speech at Magen David Synagogue about the life of Jacob and his relationships to stones.
Here's what I took away from this:
- Jacob took a stone to rest his head on (i.e. a pillow) and went to sleep.
- After Jacob dreamed about the Angels ascending and descending the ladder to the heavens, he anointed the stone with oil and consecrated it to G-d.
- When Jacob sees Rachel coming to water her father, Laban's sheep, Jacob rolls the stone from off the well to quench their thirst.
- As Jacob blessed his 12 sons, he is called the "stone of Israel."
So what's the significance of all this stone in Jacob's and in our lives?
MILESTONES: We celebrate major stages (milestones) in our lives like births, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, graduations, weddings, and jobs/promotions, and we also give diamond (stone) rings to our beloved upon engagement.
CORNERSTONES: We build the foundations (cornerstones) for progress and advancement with our contributions to the world (giving to others, leaving the world a better place than when we got here).
HEADSTONES: We mark and honor a person's life and place a headstone at their grave to signify our love, respect, and gratitude for everything they have done.
I'd add that hopefully, along the way in our lives, we don't have too many problems and too much stress and get KIDNEY STONES.
Interestingly "Some people have a heart of stone, and some stones have a heart."
Like the Western Wall ("The Kotel") of the Temple in Jerusalem where the Jews pray to G-d--the stones in the wall have history, they have seen the joys and challenges of the people, and they have heard the stories and prayers of the worshippers that go to pray there.
Stones themselves are neutral--they can be used to celebrate, consecrate, build, and memorialize, with, and stones can also be used to hurl and smash and kill with.
For Jacob and his children, even simple stones are a way to worship G-d Almighty. ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)