Sunday, October 29, 2006

Dreams

Posted by Tova


Moshe, who we all know as a prophet, is only first called a prophet in D’varim 18:15; 34:10. Moshe is distinguished from all other nevi’im by God’s revealing Himself directly to him, while He only revealed Himself to other prophets through a vision or dream. This distinction is made between prophecy and dreams because of the common belief that gods communicate to humans by means of dreams (Encyclopedia Judaica). In D’varim 13:2 dreams are directly linked to prophecy which is where we get the concept of prophecy through dreams. However, there are times in the Torah where prophecy through dreams in looked down on, for example, in Yirmiyahu 27:9 where he tells the people not to listen to prophecy through dreams for it can be seen as false. Secondly in Zecharia 10:2 the same idea is told to the people- “dreamers speak lies and console with illusion.” This negativity portrayed in Yirmiyahu and Zecharia may explain why Moshe received direct prophecy, for since he was a higher level prophet, Hashem did not want him to be doubted as a false prophet.

Prophecy in the Torah can be split into two types. First are the prophecies that are meant to foretell future events. For example, Yosef had a dream that eleven stars and the moon bowed down to him; As Yosef interpreted, this was symbolic of his family bowing down to him which indeed came true when he ruled in Mitzrayim. The second category of prophecy is a direct message from God. For example, right before Yaakov ran away from Israel, he had a dream where angels were going up and down a ladder; this was a message from Hashem that He would always be with Yaakov.

One must be sure to note that dreams in the Torah are different then prophecies. Prophecies were only given to selected known prophets, who because of their status were treated with great respect and were considered to be on a higher level of kedusha, such as Moshe. You can make the distinction through the usage of words- if the Torah uses the world “chalom” it is a regular dream, however if it uses the word “chazon” it is a prophecy through vision (Otzar Yisrael Encyclopedia).

In the G’mara there are many different views on the topic of dreams. Most of the rabbis view dreams as a revelation from G-d, while others view dreams more seriously saying that the event of a dream is so powerful that it can be seen as near reality. And of course there is the opinion on the opposite end of the scale which says that dreams and practically completely irrelevant and insignificant (Universal Jewish Encyclopedia).

This is the view on dreams in the Torah. As you can see dreams were taken very seriously when they appeared in the Torah; however, nowadays since we don’t have prophecy, how might the meaning of dreams have changed? Do dreams have any significance today?

14 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that dreams today can sometimes have meaning. For exacple my great uncle had ESP and when he was very relaxed (which reminds me of how someone stated that neviim had to be relaxed in order to get prophecy, though this is very different from getting a prophecy) he would see "visions". For example one night he was sleeping and he had a dream that a plane full of asian people had crashed and he saw all these asian children burning. The next morning he turned on the news and thoes events had in fact actually transpired. I think however, that it is more rare now adays for dreams to pertain clearly and without question to real life because i do not think most of us are on that level of kedusha to merit God giving us a message.I think God might be sending us mashals like He did many times in tancach (in yonah the whole story with the tree) through our dreams and it is up to us to recognize them and act accordingly
-rachel stern

October 29, 2006 12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that dreams today can sometimes have meaning. For exacple my great uncle had ESP and when he was very relaxed (which reminds me of how someone stated that neviim had to be relaxed in order to get prophecy, though this is very different from getting a prophecy) he would see "visions". For example one night he was sleeping and he had a dream that a plane full of asian people had crashed and he saw all these asian children burning. The next morning he turned on the news and thoes events had in fact actually transpired. I think however, that it is more rare now adays for dreams to pertain clearly and without question to real life because i do not think most of us are on that level of kedusha to merit God giving us a message.I think God might be sending us mashals like He did many times in tancach (in yonah the whole story with the tree) through our dreams and it is up to us to recognize them and act accordingly
-rachel stern

October 29, 2006 12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that dreams today can sometimes have meaning. For exacple my great uncle had ESP and when he was very relaxed (which reminds me of how someone stated that neviim had to be relaxed in order to get prophecy, though this is very different from getting a prophecy) he would see "visions". For example one night he was sleeping and he had a dream that a plane full of asian people had crashed and he saw all these asian children burning. The next morning he turned on the news and thoes events had in fact actually transpired. I think however, that it is more rare now adays for dreams to pertain clearly and without question to real life because i do not think most of us are on that level of kedusha to merit God giving us a message.I think God might be sending us mashals like He did many times in tancach (in yonah the whole story with the tree) through our dreams and it is up to us to recognize them and act accordingly
-rachel stern

October 29, 2006 12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I truley belive that dreams have some meaning. First of all, its sciencetifically proven that much of what we have dreamt is in accordence to what we were thinking abt in the day. So in a way, the dream can tell you what your really thinking and can even judge what you should or should not be thinking. But thats a side note. I have a very strong beleif that there are some cases where Hashem does come to people in dreams but we jsut dont relaize it. Bc back then, when they had a dream like this i guess it wasent comnelly accepted to have a weird dream. But in todays society, if someone had a dream that really blew yourself away, you wouldnt think it was a phrophecy. You would think " o boy, im completly nutso" . Whereas back in the time of more nevim if someone had a weird dream, they acutally looked into it. Look at the story of Pharaoh, he had one bad dream and he looked very much into it. But noadays we woodnt do that. It may not be as common for dreams to be navis but i still belive htat neuvuah can come in dreams, we jsut dont realize it. Bc every generation , there are people who are worthy of being nevaim. Althought people see these generations as terrible and we are so far from redemption,we still have the holiness. And as it said in Naoh that we shouldnt be judged in contrast to the nevim of that time, bc we are good people in our genertation, and good people that can still get nevim in dreams.
-Shira Zurndorfer

October 29, 2006 5:43 PM  
Anonymous esti said...

I partially disagree with Shira because in psych we are learnign that dreams are about cojnflicts you are having in life, but it is usually an exagerated version of the real reality. also, even if a dream seems realistic, it is not usually a good solution to your conflict (ie immoral). But maybe some dreams (like maybe if its directly related to serving Hashem in some way)can be somewhat prophetic, but if so, i dont think that of every dream and every person.

October 30, 2006 6:23 PM  
Anonymous allyyy c said...

Dreams nowadays rarely have any signifigance.way back,they were taken seriously from neviem when a navi had a "dream" (porphecy) it was to help himself and the people around him for the future. how can we believe any joe shmo's dream will tell our futures and help us make correct descisions? a navi's meaning of a prohechy was taken seriously and with deep thought, and now if someone has a dream, it usually ends with a laugh or a "thats so weird because it really happend" one usually dreams about things that happend to them that day or thoughts going threw that persons head that day, but it is not a sign of the future from hashem. now i do not know for sure that dreams we have are never signs from hashem because i do not know all (even though i am a pretty cool cat), but dreams are taken much less seriously than prophecies were back when there were neviem

October 30, 2006 9:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From personal experience I have found dreams to be particularly meaningful. Not only do they reveal your inner-most thoughts, but they also serve as an additional means of communication. Family members of mine have appeared to both my parents as well as other members of my family and said goodbye before passing away. I realize this sounds insane and slightly certifiable, but I know it to be true. I believe that if somebody is desperate enough to communicate with somebody else, they can do so in the form of a dream. So, if people can communicate through dreams, I believe that Hashem would surely speak to people through dreams. Even though I say that I believe that G-d speaks to people through dreams, if somebody told me that Hashem sent them a message, I would probably think they too were crazy. Because there is no real way to test if somebody is lying about a dream, I believe we don't take them as seriously as other forms of prophecy. In conclusion, at the risk of sounding bizarre, those who have had experienced an unusual dream know my statements to be true, and there is no way for anybody to tell if there is truth in their words or if they are simply dillusional.
-Rebecca

October 31, 2006 9:35 PM  
Anonymous Ray-Dott said...

I think it really depends on the dream, but they definetly have meaning sometimes. If Hashem doesnt communicate with us directly nowadays, it seems the next best thing would be through a dream. Sometimes dreams teach us lessons. For example, sometimes after I get in a fight with someone I have a nightmare that he or she (God forbid) died and I never got to apologize. I think God is teaching me to live every day like your last and to apologize when you are wrong. Dreams are ways for God to communicate with people without Him being too obvious.

October 31, 2006 9:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that dreams were taken seriously during the time of the Torah since the people during the time of the Torah were on a higher level and therefore had a reason to believe that their dreams were significant. For example, when Yosef is in jail and he meets the butler and baker they tell him their dreams. They obviously realized their dreams were significant because they told their dreams to Yosef.

However, nowadays since we do not receive nevuah anymore, I think dreams have changed and are now according to Freud either symbolize what is occuring in our lives, our unconsicious wishes, or what we want to happen in our lives. (ya psych!) Instead of being a message from Hashem, our dreams are personal. Therefore, dreams do not have any real significance today since our dreams do not alter our lives.

Amanda

October 31, 2006 9:42 PM  
Anonymous Lisa Amy said...

I think dreams are our subconscience recognizing what we want or what we are thinking about, but what we will not voice aloud. Therefore, I do not think dreams are prophetic. One might want to personally act upon their dream because -as already stated- it is what we want or something of the sort, and acting upon it would be rational. You might ask, what about the dreams that have nothing to do with anything in your life- like one about monkey skipping in taiwan or something- (dont ask). my explanation would just have to be logical- you saw it in a movie yesterday. period. I am in no way trying to say that true nevuot didn't occur. I do think that God appeared to special individuals/ nevuim during biblical times when that was a feasible way to contact earthly beings. howver, there is no way that i am going to believe my next door neighbor matt when he says that God apppeared to him and God wants us to do x, y , and z. so yeh i'd have to agree with ally on this one.
Just to note though, i did not begin by being this cynical on this issue though. Like Tova, i was planning on writing on dreams for the blog ( her last name just happens to fall before mine though/ im lazy)but when i was reaserching the subject, while finding lots of interestiong matirial, i also found multitudes if christian profesy websites where people wrote their profetic dreams. Let me just tell you, you do NOT want any of them telling you what God wants you to do, thats for sure! lets just hope that the neviim shekarim wern't like them during biblical times. Therefore, I just decided that I am going to go by -God decided that the tactic of Profesy through dreams just wont cut it any more.
~lisa

November 02, 2006 10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although i think that dreams are very important in that they reflect our innermost feelings and thoughts, i do not think that dreams are of any significance any more in "the world of prophey". During the era of prophecy, Hashem's presence was everywhere. Beholding a navi recieving nevuah was not uncommon, and Hashem spoke to us more directly. Yet Hashem has declined from revieling himself to such an extent nowadays. During the time we live in, Hashem would not reveal himself in such direct ways wether through prophecy, heavenly voice, or outstanding miracles (such as har sinai). As lisa said, Hashem no longer uses the same direct tactics to show his presence as he did in the period of prophecy. therefore, dreams are no longer a way for Hashem to reveal himself and are therefore no longer regarded as anything holy and note worthy and are therefore not ways in which Hashem connects to us.-arella

November 04, 2006 6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

k one, rachel i knew that was you when i read the line my uncle had ESP lol. anwyay i tihnk that since today our connection to God is more spiritual an less physical we dont need for our dreams to come directly form God. what i mean is that in the days of Nevuah and the Beit Hamikdash the people's conenciton to God was very physical. they worsipped Him not through prayer but through brining korbanot, since their relationship was more physcial they needed a non-physical aspect to it as well, which is were the prophecy in dreams comes in. as we know millions of people recieved nevuah, perhaps this was jsut a way to elevate their raltionship and non-physical connection to GOd. nowadays in order to worship
Hashme we pray and do very symbolic things and so our relationship is more based on the spiritual than the physical . since nevuah has been lost and our relationship is spiritual , we dont need nevuah through dreams to strengthen our conneciton. our dreams are jsut that, they are you subconsious mind reliving or expanding on what you did /thought about during that day. although i do agree that once in ahwile dreams may b considered as a message form God i tihnk that the majority of the time, dreams our jsut a physical part of human anture.

~tamar schneck

November 07, 2006 8:40 PM  
Blogger Amalia said...

I think that dreams can be significant even nowadays but they should be taken with a grain of salt. That is to say that when trying to divine whether or not your dream has some sort of meaning behind it (which a large amount of people actually try and do)think of the dream and how it might have some relation to your previous day. Many times dreams are simply the mishmash of the day before or your subconscious analyzing a problem that's been bothering you. However we do know that many navi's got their prophecies through a dream (except for Moshe) so even though we may have lost prophecy itself I think that people can still have a form of divine revelation through sleep. There are so many stories of people who, on September 10, 2001 dreamed of a plane crash into a building or just a large tower on fire. I think that dreams like these can hold significance of some sort but then again it could all just have been how the dice rolled in the game of chance. But since we learned about hashgacha pratit this seems to contradict my other idea.So I think that dreams can hold water but it is only those very few that can actually be deemed significant.

December 14, 2006 8:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok alot has been said, so I'll try not to be repetitive (hopefully). Going back to Tova's post, prophecy can be split into two types according to the Torah; 1. Prophecies that are meant to foretell future events (which I think has to do with major events affecting a nation, not individual people). 2. Direct message from Hashem (which I think is more personal but not necessarily only having to do with the prophet). These were the types of prophecy that were revered by all and taken as true messages from Hashem. Today however, we do not have the priviledge of recieving a message from Hashem in THIS WAY. The reason I have capitalized the words "this way" is because I believe that people today recieve messages from Hashem in their dreams. Now I know that even in the times of the Tanach prophets also recieved prophecies through dreams, the difference here is that when prophets from the time of Tanach recieved a prophecy in a dream they also had to go through a seriously physical traumatic experience (for example from one of the worksheets that Rabbi Krestt gave us, I can't remember the exact one, it states that a prophet's body would shake uncontrolably etc). With that said I believe that a person today can recieve a message, NOT PROPHECY, in their dreams. Also going back to the types of prophecy, I think that the kind of message that a person might get in their dreams today would not fall under either category. I think the reason for that is because the content of the messages that some people are recieving only pertains to them as individuals or to the people around them, not having to do with an entire nation or the world. Also I think that the messages we get are not important or significant enough to make a big deal about. Again I would like to put it out there that I don't think every dream a person has is special or that if any person were to come up to me and say that their dream was a message I would not believe them off the bat, I would be extremely skeptical. But my point is that I do believe today that people can recieve little messages from Hashem in their dreams.

Oh and just a side note, Tamar said before that, "anwyay i tihnk that since today our connection to God is more spiritual an less physical we dont need for our dreams to come directly form God. what i mean is that in the days of Nevuah and the Beit Hamikdash the people's conenciton to God was very physical. they worsipped Him not through prayer but through brining korbanot, since their relationship was more physcial they needed a non-physical aspect to it as well, which is were the prophecy in dreams comes in. as we know millions of people recieved nevuah, perhaps this was jsut a way to elevate their raltionship and non-physical connection to GOd. nowadays in order to worship Hashme we pray and do very symbolic things and so our relationship is more based on the spiritual than the physical . since nevuah has been lost and our relationship is spiritual , we dont need nevuah through dreams to strengthen our conneciton." I'm going to have to disagree with Tamar because in those days people were way more closer and connected to Hashem than we are, so why would they need a prophecy to feel closer to Hashem when they were already on that high level? Also wouldn't you think that since our relationship with Hashem is purely spiritual, which is way harder to stick with than a physical relationship because were humans, that we would need a prophecy to stay connected to Hashem? Just a thought.
~Stepho~

January 14, 2007 11:15 AM  

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