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Monday, December 20, 2010
In Torah, God shows the future in our dreams to whomever God thinks appropriate.
Then God sends wise interpreters to the dreamers to explain the messages that God has sent us.
Only when interpreted can the dreams come true.
Hinei, meaning Behold, is the word used in Torah to introduce such a dream.
II. Behold, Joseph dreams
Joseph dreamt of wheat sheaves that bowed to him and the aging Wrestler Jacob understood and interpreted
Thus, he gave his annoying son a striped coat.
So the story could begin and the prophecy come true.
Once upon a time, a gifted but foolish child was sold into slavery…
But when Joseph saw his brothers again, they were hungry and he was a lord.
And they bowed down to him and he understood, and forgave because it was basherte, meant to be.
Thus they hugged and they ate and they cried.
So thank you, Jacob.
Because without interpretation, a prophecy is wasted.
III. Then behold, science dreams.
While we sleep our brains show us random pictures of what we had seen that day or what we can imagine, based on what our brains already knew even if we didn’t know we knew them.
And our brain imposes order on the random and constructs a story.
Thus we gain access to the things we know but don’t know we know,
And we call that a dream.
Chalom is the Hebrew word for dream, which sounds like chalon, which is the word for window.
So a dream can be prophecy or neurology or a window to one’s soul.
And our therapists interpret our dreams so we’ll understand our inner motivations.
Once analyzed, a dream gives insight.
So Danke Schoen, Freud.
Because without explanation, an image is wasted
IV. Hinei! Rebbe Hannina dreams
Human versions of God’s vast intent are as unripened fruit,
Filled with potential,
Perceived completely only by God.
Hanina says that the unripened fruit of prophecy is a dream.
Which is kind of cool.
So I speculate,
The unripened fruit of truth is the story.
We tell tales with beginnings middles and ends around our seder table, for instance.
Then we bite into sweet charoses and pretend it is mortar for bitter bricks,
Because it fits the narrative.
So thanks, all you Jews.
Because without a congregation, a maggid is wasted.
V. Behold, Jacob dreams
Jacob dreamt of a ladder and souls that went up and down,
But his soul stayed put as he mourned his dead son, Joseph, who turned up actually not so dead.
And when Jacob got the good news and moved to Egypt, he had to face the facts.
At the end of his life, the end of Bereishit, he predicts the future.
Behold! says Jacob, and some get a farmland and some get sheep.
Behold! says Jacob, and those rotten kids, Reuben, Simeon (not so nice, not so honest, not so deserving) get futures of disgrace and division.
Behold! says Jacob, and Judah, who made teshuvah, who pleased God because he could learn from his mistakes and change,
Judah gets history,
Jew-dah gets us, the Jews.
Then Jacob dies, a hard, full life.
Chazak, chazak, Jacob – Be strong, be strong
So thanks, Genesis,
Because without dynastic mythologies, a dysfunctional family is wasted.
VI. Behold, Moses dreams
One tale ends, so another can begin.
In Shmot, starting next week, another great story, more unripened fruit, this one of murdered babies, supernatural revenge, bad guys, and heroes.
And, after a mad dash across the Sea of Reeds,
There’s much rejoicing,
Quickly interrupted by hunger and miracles and rules and revelation.
And even though the rest of us often find ourselves in the desert,
Or tied up on the metaphorical railroad tracks:
“Pay the rent!” “I can’t pay the rent!”
Not even dreaming of rescue,
Making bricks without straw,
No aspirations, no hope, no prophecies, no future!
Then here comes our hero, Moshe, “I’ll pay the rent!
Have some commandments! Become a people!”
So, nice to see you coming up in the third act, Moishe.
Because without a happy ending, complications are wasted.
VII. Behold, our dream
So we pray and listen for the presence of God in ambient sound
Trying to hear truth amongst all the voices of our lives
Trying to interpret the noise properly so that it will come true, if it should,
And we can be part of a much larger story.
Here I am.
So we can all take responsibility and not be ashamed,
Se we can all learn from our mistakes and make teshuvah,
So we can all forgive and not be bitter.
And hug and eat and cry and change the world.
For good and for ill,
As did our illustrious uncle, Joseph of Egypt.
And our great great grandpa, Judah the Lion.
So thanks, Grace Paley, who more or less said,
“Without action, hope is wasted.”
Brucha At Yah,
Infinite and eternal so that we may have endings and beginnings.
I am so grateful that we are able to study Torah together.
Because without connection, dreams are wasted.
Written originally for the Drisha Institute Artists Fellowship program, based on our study of dreams in Talmud