The Parsha begins this week with the story of Jacob leaving the land of Israel.l. As Jacob leaves, he passes by the area of the Har Habayit (Temple Mount) in Jerusalem. Nightfall sets, and Jacob falls asleep. Jacob has a vision in which he sees angels climbing up and down a ladder that reaches from the ground into Heaven. Hashem is standing over him, watching him, and makes many promises to Jacob. He promises Jacob that He will be with him and protect him, he will have many descendents, they will receive the land of Israel, they will be successful, and they will spread out all over the world.
Can we imagine how we would feel upon receiving such blessings? Wouldn’t we be full of ecstasy, overwhelmed by waves of joy, and feel totally uplifted? When Jacob wakes up, his immediate reaction was amazing. Instead of expressing his great joy, he cries out “Is this a place of Hashem?! I didn’t know!” If I would have known, I never would have slept here! Amazing! Even if Jacob had the opportunity for such blessings to be given to him, he wouldn’t have slept in a holy place.
The lesson that Jacob taught us is a most powerful one. For whatever need or benefit we may feel we may receive, we still must treat a holy place with proper respect. A Beit Knesset (a Synagogue) must be treated like a Synagogue; A Beit Medrash (a house of study) must be treated as a house of study. Places of sanctity require behavior of sanctity. When our conduct in these special, holy places is truly uplifted, we can hope that our prayers we also be uplifted and answered.