Ask the rabbi

Regarding Dreams

Throughout the Bible there are many references to dreams. What is the importance or significance of dreams? Who should interpret dreams? Or how should they be interpreted? What can be learned from dreams? What should be feared?
Dreams indeed take an important place in the Torah, and there is a complete chapter in the Talmud which deals with them (Tractate Berachot, Ch. 9). The topic is actually quite intricate and requires great study. There are many explanations, but we will present here the unique explanation of dreams offered by Rabbi Kook. To put it simply: The affect of dreams is based upon the general understanding of the system G-d has established wherein the laws of physical nature are interconnected to and affected by the moral and spiritual level and behavior of man. Man’s actions create certain spiritual images in his soul. When strengthened enough, these internal images themselves bring about resulting events in one’s life. It is not some external “hand from Heaven” which changes history, rather the Divinely established laws of Creation and laws of man and his psychological makeup which are built into the system itself, which are the determining force of man’s fate. Dreams can have an affect on one’s life because they are one of the ways which strengthen those spiritual images. In the dream, the internal image is presented and “seen” by the dreamer. Dreams have their own language. Just as there is the language of human speech, so there is the language of the soul and the language of dreams. The “interpreter” is an expert in the language of dreams, and he knows how to “translate” from language to language. The interpretation of the dream determines which images are “amplified” and in which direction. When interpreted properly, the dreamer feels the correctness of the interpretation. He sees that it “fits” well and strengthens his internal image and that image then turns about the events that come upon him. Thus man is responsible for his own fate. His actions created the internal force which determines his fate, as it states “For the action of man will pay him back, and according to his ways will he bring it about” (Iyyov 34:11). References: Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, Midbar Shor, Drush 24, especially p. 224 Eyn Aya, Brachot, ch. 9.
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