Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz – I’ve Had a Dream

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Operation Inspiration

Throughout history, dreamers have shared their visions with others. Sometimes it was in the guise of some sort of prophecy, while other times it was an attempt to mobilize people for a cause, for the betterment of Mankind.

Some of these people have been hailed as visionaries and others as lunatics. History and time would prove whether their dreams were reasonable, fanciful, or downright ridiculous. Some are famous, like Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech in Washington, where he said that he dreamed of a future when people would be judged by their deeds and values instead of their looks. This is a dream that sadly hasn’t materialized in either direction, though it would be a better situation for all of us if that’s how we operated.

Today, though, I want to share some actual dreams I had. Not dreams in terms of some grandiose plan for humanity, but dreams, no, nightmares, that kept me from getting rest. Why would I do that? Because I think there’s something in these dreams that may benefit my readers.

Before we get to that, let’s discuss a few points that Chazal have said about dreams. A friend, Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld, shared this very definitive perspective on dreams on Aish.com:

Judaism sees dreams as usually inconsequential but once in a while significant. The Gemara (Brachos 55-57) discusses dreams at length and appears to make some contradictory statements about them. On the one hand, the Gemara calls dreams 1/60th of prophecy (57b). Likewise, in the Torah people such as Joseph and Pharaoh experienced prophetic dreams. The Gemara further lists many types of dreams (e.g., where a person sees certain objects or experiences certain events) and explains their significance.

On the other hand, the Gemara writes that the interpretation of dreams is in the hands of the interpreter (55b), and that an unexplained dream has no significance at all – as an unread letter (55a). The implication is that dreams are certainly not prophetic. They do not mean anything at all on their own. They can, however, be interpreted – and their interpretation will come true.

Finally, the Gemara states that people are shown in dreams that which they were thinking about during the day (55b), and that even significant dreams contain their share of nonsense (55a).”

So, the answer to the question, “Are dreams important?” is an emphatic, definite, “Maybe.” But whether dreams are a nevuah, a subtle message from our souls, or simply what we were thinking about, if they drive us to do things that are good, then we are “interpreting” them for good and we can use them to achieve great things.

This is the same as anything we see, waking or otherwise, which can be used as a catalyst for change, or perhaps ignored as meaningless, which could be a waste. But enough about the potential, you want to hear what keeps me awake at night (in a manner of speaking.) Well, the dreams changed a bit from time to time, but the recurring fear and dread related to situations in which I was preparing for Shabbos.

In one dream, it was Shabbos morning and we were coming home from shul with guests. Suddenly I realized I had not made a cholent the day before. I scrambled to see what food we could find to serve everyone and my frantic searches came up empty-handed, causing me great anxiety and dread.

In another dream, it was Erev Shabbos, but only by moments. My wife was not home and I was trying to manage (in a kitchen much larger than my own, I must say) putting things on the blech, in the oven, and into the crockpot as Kabbolas Shabbos loomed ever closer.

Please don’t question my ability to start things cooking so close to Shabbos. It was a dream and maybe I was holding like the Mordechai in terms of raw foods right before Shabbos or maybe things were mostly cooked before. It was a dream and there’s always something false in them so work with me here.

Anyway, as I ran around the kitchen, friends of ours arrived and for some reason they decided they HAD to hang out in the kitchen, impeding my progress, though they were just trying to be friendly. The clock continued to tick mercilessly until I, still fast asleep, davened, “Please help me Ribono Shel Olam!!!!” At that moment, I suddenly realized it was just a dream and not really happening. A moment later I woke up.

I had not been thinking about Shabbos at that point and interpreting your own dream is iffy, but I think that perhaps these dreams stemmed from one of my most deep-set fears. Chazal tell us, “One who prepares before Shabbos will eat on Shabbos.” This refers to taking advantage of Olam Hazeh to build up a storehouse of spiritual nourishment for Olam Haba. We won’t be here forever, and we don’t even know when Shabbos will start exactly.

If I want to eat on Shabbos, i.e., have a plan for the time when I can no longer perform mitzvos for reward, either because Olam Haba is ready for me, or Moshiach comes and the Yetzer Hara is shechted, then it would be terrifying to wait and delay thinking I can get started later.

I’ve had a dream, my friends, that one day we will not wait to start coming closer to Hashem. That we will not be distracted by our friends or activities or “things.” But instead, we will focus on doing the most we can in every moment, and continually building our nest egg so that when Shabbos arrives in whatever form it will take, we will be able to relax and enjoy it.

 

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