Between Luz and Beit El, the World as It Is and the World as It Should Be©
The Talmud that Luz is the city in which the angel of death has no permission to enter: its citizens have the ability to live forever. The Midrash tells us of a man named Aaron, who heard that there was a town with an old Luz – an almond tree – and a dark cave with many passages that must be traversed to find the city of Luz.
Aaron found the town and entered the cave, and finally, after wandering for several days, he encountered an old man who asked him what he was doing in the caves.
Aaron told him: “I am looking for the entrance to Luz.” “The entrance!” exclaimed the man. “I am looking for the exit! The people who live forever have no ambition to learn new ideas or to create new ways to improve themselves or their community.”
When Aaron heard this, he retraced his steps, left the cave, and returned to his home and the work that awaited him there.
We can understand why the man was anxious to leave the city. He needed more than years of life: he needed life in his years. We tend to lose our incentive to grow when there is no limit, when yesterday is tomorrow and next year will be the same.
Jacob understood that he was shown the way out of Luz. He has awakened to the need to complete his journey. He opens his eyes to see God and gains the strength to overcome challenges and to grow. Luz is the place where one stagnates and ceases to grow; Beit El is the place where Jacob receives his wake up call, the divine charge to go forth into the world, to overcome adversities, and make a difference.