Home
In this issue
December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

A GLIMPSE OF TRUTH: Why we have dreams and what they really mean

By Rabbi Y.Y. Rubinstein




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | When I was a boy I dreamed often, and not too infrequently the dream was a bad one that predicted terrible things. Not surprisingly, that type of dream occupied my waking thoughts for weeks after. If only I had known then what the Talmud says in Berachos (55a): "A bad dream is better than a good one!"

People have always dreamed and then wondered what the dream meant and if it foretold something that was actually going to happen. It is an intriguing question to ponder: why does the Divine make us dream and what function does this serve?

In the classic philosophical work, Michtav MeEliyahu, Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler cites the same Talmud to divide dreams into three distinct categories:

Caesar once said to Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananyah, "You Jews say about yourselves that you are very clever!"

Such a statement emanating from non-Jewish lips across the long ages of exile have usually been the precursor to an assault, either verbal or physical. In this case, it launched a challenge.

So tell me what I'm going to dream tonight.

Rabbi Yehoshua didn't hesitate and replied, "You will dream that you will be made into a servant of [your nemesis] the Persian king and will be made to tend his pigs. This you will do with a staff made of gold.

The Talmud reports that Caesar thought about this disturbing prediction the entire day, and at night he did indeed dream exactly that!

Rabbi Yehoshua's certainty flowed not from some knowledge of mystical wisdom but knowledge of psychological wisdom. Things that preoccupy us and occupy our conscious minds are likely to reemerge in our sleeping unconscious minds.

Rabbi Dessler explains that one type of dream shows us aspects of our personalities that would otherwise remain hidden and unknown to us. This allows us the chance to discover flaws and defects within our personalities and act to put them right. Still, there are many ways that the Divine could lead us to that self-discovery — why use dreams?

Rav Moshe Schneider, zt"l, the founder and dean of Yeshivas Toras Emes in London, had an interesting technique to giving a boy rebuke. If he spotted a boy who had done something wrong, he would take him for a walk and put an arm around his shoulder.

"You know," he would begin, "if you enter a garage, and as the mechanic comes out from beneath a car to talk to you a drop of oil falls onto his overalls, you won't point that out to him for a very obvious reason — his overalls are already filthy and covered in oil. But if a groom at his wedding is wearing a new dark suit and you see a white fleck lying on the lapel, you will tell him.

Again the reason is obvious. That one little fleck is spoiling an otherwise perfect suit."

With that, Reb Moshe would go on to point out a fleck that he had spotted in the lad's behavior. With his clever introduction Rabbi Schneider had, of course, prepared the boy for hearing something about himself that needed attention and work.


INSPIRATION AND STIMULATION

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Uplifting articles. HUNDREDS of columnists and cartoonists. Sign up for the daily update. It's free. Just click here.


Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe, a pioneer in contemporary Jewish ethics, points out that for a person to discover exactly what he is like, seeing all of his flaws and bad middos would be like "going to Hell alive." Such a process has to be subtle and constructed in such a way that the person can realize that he has a problem to be able to put it right.

A dream is mostly nonsense. A person walks though a cloud into a place where chocolate trees grow upside down. There he meets someone whom he strikes on the face. Framed in such a scene, the dreamer may be disturbed to see himself strike another. He does not have to worry too much about his behavior, though; after all, it is only a dream. Yet still: Could I have done such a thing...could I do such a thing?

The surreal imagery resonates within a real part of the dreamer's mind, and he might decide that he has to work on his temper.

Rabbi Dessler cites a second category of dreams, one that gives us a glimpse at a possible future. The Talmud in tractate Berachos says that a dream is a sixtieth of prophecy. This type of dream is also designed to elicit a positive response from the dreamer. A dream that predicts something worrying will provoke the dreamer to take action to try to avert the dream coming true.

Rabbi Dessler's last category is almost identical to his first. Here, though, the dreamer is shown something positive about his personality that he might never have realized or discovered without the dream.

The Torah introduces the subject of dreams through the conflict between Josef and his brothers. The brothers already hated Josef when he told them that he had a dream.

And the brothers saw that their father loved one from all his brothers and they hated him, and they were not able to speak to him in peace. And Josef dreamt a dream and he told it to his brothers, and they hated him even more. And he said, "Listen now to this dream which I have dreamt. Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field and my sheaf stood erect over your sheaves, and your sheaves surrounded mine and bowed to it." And they said to him, "Will you rally be a king over us? Will you really rule over us?" And they hated him more for his dreams and for his words. (Genesis 37:4-9)

The story is baffling. The Torah states that the brothers hated Josef even more for his dreams and for his words. But he hadn't told them about dreams — he told them about a dream.

More puzzling still is the fact that all of the brothers were prophets. Prophets experience prophecy when they dream (apart from Moses, who was awake when he experienced prophecy). Why then did the brothers not recognize Josef 's dream exactly for what it was — a prophecy?

The Alshich HaKadosh (1508-1593) answers that the brothers had understood and interpreted the dream perfectly. It was that accuracy of understanding that caused them to reject the dream as being prophetic.

Josef reported that his sheaf stood higher than theirs. They understood that this predicted that he would dominate them. Then he reported that their sheaves bowed to his. They understood that this meant he would become king over them. In rejecting the dream, they reversed the order and said, "Will you really be king over us? Will you really rule over us?"

The Alshich points to the reason they rejected the prophecy. Can a person be a king over ten people? Clearly not. You can be the king of a country or even a city, but not ten people. If that part of the dream could not be true, then neither could the first bit.

They did not foresee that the Divine would make Josef the king of Egypt and then they would indeed bow down to him.

In rejecting the possibility of prophecy, they ascribed the dream to the same mechanism that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananyah utilized when he spoke to Caesar. This dream of Josef 's was merely a continuation of something else he "dreamed" about during his waking thoughts. These other dreams were his ambitions and hopes to dominate his brothers. That's why the Torah reported that they hated him for his dreams and not the dream, singular. The dream at night outlined his dreams by day.

Rabbi Dessler points out the cruelty and hopelessness of what befell Josef next.

To be a slave, as the Talmud in Bava Basra (8b) points out, is the worst thing that can happen to anyone, because all of the worst things that can happen to anyone in life could easily befall a slave on a daily basis. He has no rights whatsoever. If his master wants to starve him or beat him or even kill him, he can. The slave can be torn from his wife or children and sold to another owner at any time.

Of all places to be a slave, though, none was as bad as Egypt. They treated their slaves with particular cruelty. On top of all that, no slave ever escaped from Egypt; it was a life sentence. All this was brought on Josef by his brothers. The very ones who should have guarded and protected him were the ones who sealed his terrible fate.

Once in Egypt, Josef finds success in the house of Potifar until the mistress of the house attempts to make him commit a terrible crime. He refuses and passes the test. Still he is accused of committing the crime and convicted. The name "Jew" is besmirched throughout Egypt despite Josef passing the test.

Even the greatest Jews sometimes despaired. In Psalms 22, King David cried out, "Keli Keli lamah azavtani — Lord, why have you forsaken me?" It would not be hard to imagine Josef despairing because his reward for withstanding Potifar's wife was even more suffering and being forced to languish in prison.

But Josef had been shown in a dream that he would be a king. Like the great rabbinic dean putting his arm around the lad and pointing to something he needed to improve, the dream pointed out the greatness that lay within Josef. He would be a king, and so he did not despair; he never gave up hope.

The Netziv, Rav Naftali Tzvi Yehudah Berlin (1816 - d. Warsaw, Poland, August 10, 1893), once told those who had gathered with him to celebrate the fact that he had finished learning the entire Talmud a true story about himself. At one stage, early in his life, he heard his parents discussing his future. He had not been applying himself in his learning, and they felt that he would do better if he was taken out of the rabbinical academy and apprenticed to become a jeweler instead.

Although his parents' analysis of his lack of dedication was accurate, hearing what the outcome of that lack of dedication was likely to produce gave him a shock. He asked for another chance to prove himself and eventually emerged as one of the greatest rabbis of his generation.

After he finished telling his tale, he turned to his listeners and asked an intriguing question. "Suppose I had not overheard that conversation and determined to change? I would have gone on to become a jeweler and perhaps, like so many, moved to the United States. One day, years later, I would be standing in front of the heavenly court to give an account of my life. They would ask me, 'What is your name?' I would reply, 'Naftali Tzvi Yehudah Berlin.' Then they would get started on my 'file' and ask me to tell them something about my life.

"I would explain that I was born in the Old Country and learned for a while in rabbinic school. I would then say that I become a jeweler and moved to New York. I married a nice Jewish girl and started a successful business. My wife and I had several children whom we brought up to be loyal and good Jews. I myself gave money to charity, observed Shabbos [Sabbath] faithfully, and attended religious lectures.

"Then they would ask me if I had ever heard of a work called 'Ha'amek Davar,' a commentary on the Torah. I would consider the question and reply that I had never come across that particular work. They would ask if I had ever heard of a work called 'Ha'amek She'alah,' and again I would say that I had never come across that one either.

"After a pause, the judges would look at my file and appear confused. 'That's strange,' they would say. 'It says here that you wrote them!'

"I would be astonished and explain that there must be some mistake. 'I am Naftali Tzvi Yehudah Berlin, the jeweler from Manhattan. I attended lectures certainly and tried my best to learn, but I never wrote those holy books.'

"The angels would consult their records once more and then point an accusative finger at me. 'Yes...but you could have!' "

Much more painful than having to watch the film or DVD of your life would be watching the DVD of what your life could have been if only you had made other decisions.

Two years after my first book, Dancing Through Time, was published I was speaking in a place called Calabasas in California. After the lecture, someone approached me holding a copy of the book in his hand. He asked if I would sign it for him and I happily agreed. After I did so, he announced that it was his Shabbos treat.

I looked perplexed and he explained that he studied the weekly Torah portion with the classic commentary, Rashi, for two hours on a Shabbos afternoon and then another work for another hour. If he fulfilled his full three hours, he rewarded himself by reading a chapter of my book.

It was worth flying all the way to California just to hear that!

Suppose, though, that I had never spent the time and effort to write that book. One day I would be standing in front of the heavenly court, and they would ask me if I had ever heard of a book called "Dancing Through Time," and I would look blankly, moments before an accusatory finger would shoot out in my direction.

The Talmud reports that if seven days passes without a person dreaming it is a bad sign. Dreams offer opportunities for a person to change for the better. If you receive no such prompting or help to achieve that goal, then it may be because in Heaven they know you won't change even if you do receive a glimpse of truth in a dream.

But a dream is only a sixtieth of prophecy. A bad dream is better than a good one because it affords the dreamer the chance to change. A bad dream need never come true. If its purpose is to get the dreamer to change and he does so, then the dream has fulfilled its purpose and its prediction becomes redundant. Maimonides points out that even when true prophecy existed in Jewry, the Divine might still cancel an evil decree. The Jewish people may have reacted and corrected their behavior upon hearing the prophecy so that the decree became redundant. But if a prophet predicts something good will happen to the Jewish people, such a prophecy comes with a cast-iron guarantee. The Divine will never rescind a good prophecy.

In the troubled time that we are currently living through, it is not hard to find our sleep troubled by the worries and fears of our waking thoughts. It is certainly a time for repentance, and dreams that alert us to weaknesses need to be exploited, and those weaknesses addressed and corrected. If our dreams show us glimpses of futures that are worrisome, then again our response should be repentance.

Still, a dream may be reminding us of our potential, that we have greatness within us — a greatness that allows us to withstand even the most terrible of times. We are, after all, the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah.

And true prophecy that foretells something good will always come true. Our prophets have repeated the same message from the Divine on countless occasions: the exile will end and all of Jewry will live in safety in their land.

Repentance makes that dream come true. Any way we can help our repentance along, including using our dreams to help us improve, should be opportunities we exploit to the fullest.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspiring articles. Sign up for our daily update. It's free. Just click here.

INSPIRED BY THIS ARTICLE?
BUY THE BOOK ...
at a discount by clicking here

And in KINDLE EDITION for Just $9.99 by clicking here .

Comment by clicking here.

JWR contributor Rabbi YY Rubinstein is a world renowned educator, lecturer, radio broadcaster, and seasoned author whose articles have appeared in Hamodia and other periodicals.


Previously:


Is Your Child a Sufferer . . . Are You?

A parenting guide for the perplexed

Knowing when not to help

© 2011, Rabbi Y. Y. Rubinstein

Quantcast