In this week’s Torah portion, Vayeitzei, Yaakov must spend the night on Har Moriah. The Torah tells us, “And he (Yaakov) dreamed, and envisioned a ladder set on the ground with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, angels of God were ascending and descending upon it.”
Our sages note the image of the ladder and use it to express many Jewish concepts. For example, the ladder symbolizes money. A person earns his livelihood from various activities “on the ground.” Yet if he gives part of that money for charity, he (and his funds) are able to reach “the heavens.” In other words, his work and his earnings are elevated to the most exalted levels of holiness through charity.
Similarly, when a person prays, the thoughts and words expressed by man on earth have the power to reach up to the heavens. These sincere prayers can elicit blessings which are symbolized by the “angels descending below.”