Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
The following dvar Torah was given on Shabbat by Rav Binyamin Lehrfield of the Baron Hirsch Congregation in Memphis:
Yaakov Avinu teaches us that great things in life are achieved gradually, little by little. This is the idea behind “Jacob’s Ladder.” We climb up a ladder step by step and you can’t skip any of the steps. But if we pay attention, we will discover that it’s not just a matter of “Jacob’s Ladder” but of “Jacob’s Chair” as well. After the episode with Shechem, G-d tells Yaakov: “Arise and go up to Beit-El and sit down there and make an altar there.” Pay attention to the words “and sit down there.” Why are they necessary? Because you need to stop, look around you, and be completely present in every moment. Today we call this “mindfulness.” Rav Ovadia Sforno comments on this verse with words that are critical for all of us: “Sit down there – before you do anything else, direct your thoughts to building an altar.” Before we do something, we need to pause, reflect, and take in everything around us. We need to ask “Where am I? What am I doing? Why am I doing this?”. Only then can we direct our thoughts to where they are meant to go.