Dreams

There are dreams that reveal noble, exalted truths, such as the dreams of Avimelech, Ya'akov, Lavan, Yosef and Pharoah's servants, Pharoah, Bilam, Shlomo in Giveon, Nevuchadnezer and Daniel. There are other dreams, however, that our sages deemed completely inconsequential.

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Rabbi Shlomo Aviner

Judaism לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
There are dreams that reveal noble, exalted truths, such as the dreams of Avimelech, Ya'akov, Lavan, Yosef and Pharoah's servants, Pharoah, Bilam, Shlomo in Giveon, Nevuchadnezer and Daniel. There are other dreams, however, that our sages deemed completely inconsequential. In other words, there are two types of dreams: exalted dreams whose source is prophecy..... and base dreams, whose source is that sleep that is "one sixtieth of death"....

What makes the difference? Moreh Nevuchim (Guide to the Perplexed), the Rambam's famous treatise, contains a lengthy discussion of dreams, based on his analysis of human psychology. According to the Rambam, dreams are the products of the human power of imagination. When man is awake, these powers are repressed and overwhelmed by the enormous amounts of external stimuli and information to which man is constantly exposed.

Psychoanalysts are of the opinion that when man is awake, his conscious thoughts are "censored" by his ego, and so his repressed thoughts and desires find expression in his dreams. This is not necessarily so, says our great master, the Rambam. All man's ambitions and desires that cannot find expression or realization in 'real life' surface in his dreams. A man who is consumed with desire, whose life centers around base instincts, will see his desires in his dreams. A man who yearns for attachment to the Divine will see angels in his dreams (see Moreh Nevuchim vol. II, 36-38).

"Sleep frees man from subservience to the external world" , writes Chief Rabbi Avraham Kook, and his subconscious powers spread "throughout his spiritual stature" - for good or for bad. When man is awake, his environment prevents him from descending "to the moral depths;" it likewise keeps him from ascending to "the very heights." When man frees himself from the constrictions of the external world, his thoughts, imaginings, daydreams and emotions may either lead him "to the moral rock bottom" of Freudian fantasies, or he may rise to "the very heights" of cleaving to the Divine. What makes the difference? "It all depends on his spiritual stature... "on the spiritual level of his soul and on his free will." (Mussar HaKodesh, p.304)

Therefore, aside from one's constant striving to imbue his actions, character and thoughts with holiness, it is quite important to make a cheshbon nefesh - to examine all of one's deeds and thoughts - before going to sleep (op. cit., p. 302-303). From this, stems the connection to G-d - "In Your hand shall I deposit my soul...." (from Adon Olam, recited at the end of the prayer upon retiring at night).

[Translated by Bracha Slae.]


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