Who do we pray for?

“He (Jacob) encountered the place and spent the night there… (Genesis 28:11).

Rashi comments that the word for “encounter” (va’yifga) means prayer. (This seems to be the meaning of the word in Jeremiah 7:16.)

However, a few verses later, we are told explicitly that Jacob prayed that God should be with him, guard him on his journey, provide him with food and clothing and return him in peace to his father’s house (verses 20-21).

If this is the case, what was his prayer before he had the vision of the angels on the ladder in verses 12-15?

The Radomsker Rebbe suggested that the phrase (verse 11) “he encountered the place” can be read as “he prayed concerning the Omnipresent”. This is because “ha’makom” – the place refers to He who is present in every place.

We see something important here. Before praying for his personal wants (verses 20-21), Jacob prayed on behalf of the glory of the Ominipresent and for the Holy Temple that would be located at this very spot where he had his awesome dream.

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