Abraham greets angels in the book of Genesis [Chapter 18]. Many years later, his grandson Jacob has a dream of angels ascending and descending a ladder.
Long after his dream, at the end of Chapter 32, Jacob does not only dream of angels, but actually sees them as he is leaving his Uncle Laban. Why is it that Jacob, who before had only night visions, is now, like his grandfather Abraham, actually able to see the angels before him?
Remember what happened in the house of Laban: Jacob married and had children. Running away from home, he was a gifted but also scared and opportunistic young man. Now he has fallen in love. Abraham knew love with Sarah, and so he could see the angels. Once Jacob has known love, what was just a dream has become reality.
The Torah often asks us to look carefully to learn even central lessons. Here the angels are telling us: If you wish to see what others miss, learning alone will not help. You have to love.
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @RabbiWolpe. His latest book is “David: The Divided Heart” (Yale University Press).