Sunday, June 3, 2012

Be careful with dream interpretations

Seen in the Old City of Jerusalem

Photo: Miriam Woelke

I was participating in a certain Shabbat meal yesterday where a woman got up and told the following story: 

A few weeks ago, she was talking to a Gentile woman in Jerusalem’s Old City. This particular Gentile woman announced that G – d had told her in a dream to come to Jerusalem in order to get healed from a certain illness. Not a dangerous illness but the woman had been on medication for quite a while. 

 The Gentile woman came to Jerusalem and got "healed" within a month. The Jewish woman telling us the story yesterday was totally convinced that this could be true. When the Rabbi running the meal told her that one has to be careful to listen to dreams, the Jewish woman a kind of ignored his warning but claim instead that it says that in the days before Meshiach, everyone would have the power receiving dreams / visions from above. 

When I heard the story I did not at all believe the claim of the Gentile woman. There are too many crazy Christians running around in the Old City claiming all kinds of visions. One is the Meshiach, one is mother so – and – so and another one is a prophet or angel. Many of those Christians have visions and receive prophesies from G – d or their false Meshiach Joschke. You name it. 

When the Rabbi was warning her to follow any dream or think that any dream you have is true, he may have referred to the kabbalistic ZOHAR. There, a Passuk teaches that our souls are leaving the body while we are asleep. They go up but not all reach the pure upper worlds but get stuck somewhere inbetween. While getting stuck, the souls may end up in impure areas and receive dreams from impure sources. Those dreams are destined to lead us astray or confuse us. 

 As soon as a person wakes up, the soul returns into the body. Because the souls leave the body while being asleep, the body reaches the state of death. As soon as the soul returns, life comes back but Halacha tells us to wash our hands after sleep. The reason is to get rid of the state of impurity from the time we were asleep. 

In case we have a dream and this dream is really bothering us or we have the feeling that it wants to tell us something, we should go to an experienced Rabbi who is able to interpret dreams. In any case, what we should also do is refraining from our own interpretations and just blindly follow the dream. In fact, Talmud Tractate Berachot 55a ff. offers a huge section on dreams and what they are supposed to mean. From time to time I am referring to this subject but, although an active dreamer, I don’t always bother with all kinds of thoughts and interpretations.


Are dreams coming true ?


  1. Dreams ?

    I prefer having nightmares as I am relieved when waking up.
    When I have great dreams I get disappointed when waking up.

    My biggest quest for over 10 years is that every now and then I dream of my grand-mother z"l, and at some point she is always leaving me behind, then I cry (only in the dream). I always light a yahrzeit candle, but not always get to recite Kaddish myself;

    When she actually died I thought it was better for her, I didn't feel sad then as I had already felt the sadness for years before. I lived abroad and no chance to go back for funeral; it was all too sudden. I even never went back to that city since then.
    And I never cried ... only in the dreams.

    My own interpretation is Guilt.

  2. B"H

    The same happened to me when my mother died. Sometimes in life we have to make very hard decisions and keep telling ourselves that it was right making this decision at any costs. However, afterwards we regret.

    I can only say that time is healing the guilt feeling. Once a Rabbi said that a person cannot forgive himself but G - d actually had done so a long time ago.