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Does Kabbalah talk about dreams?

by Rabbi Yossi Marcus

  

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Yes it does. Here’s one Kabbalistic insight on the dream phenomenon:

Kabbalah discusses the evolution of creation from a state of non-being, to ethereal being, to an ever more concretized existence, to actual physical reality as we know it—and the countless states of existence in between.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi uses the example of a seed, which contains within it the potential for the entire tree—branches, leaves, fruits, including the pit and peel of the fruit. Every aspect of the tree is contained within the seed in an undefined form that will eventually take on a concrete existence.

While in that indistinct form, the aspect of the seed that ultimately becomes the branch can theoretically become the fruit, while the part that becomes the fruit could have become the branch. On that level all is interchangeable. Yet once the branch becomes a branch there’s no turning back. (The same with human seed, which contains within it the potential for every aspect of the human body, the mind, the heart, eyes, nails, etc.)

In a dream, opposites can coexist comfortably. Illogical circumstances are perfectly logical
Similarly, in the early, spiritual stages of creation, when all exists in potential form, everything is interchangeable.

Thus is explained a story in the Talmud1 where one of the sages miraculously caused vinegar to act as fuel when his daughter had mistakenly used it instead of oil for the Shabbat lamps. This sage was able to tap into that early state of reality, where the properties of vinegar and oil are not yet defined.

Dreams also tap into that reality. In a dream, opposites can coexist comfortably. Illogical circumstances are perfectly logical. This surrealism is a reflection of the early state of creation. (In Kabbalistic terminology, this state is known variably as: Tohu (chaos), Iggulim (circles); and Ayin (nothingness).)

Sometimes, perhaps often, our own lives are like a dream, filled with inconsistencies. We hurt those whom we love; we engage in self-destructive behavior even as we know its effects. This is the downside of living in a “dream” state.

But there is an upside, too, a way to take advantage of the dream:

While it is good to be practical and consistent, sometimes it is good to dream, to be inconsistent. When our practical and consistent side prevents us from doing a Mitzvah, a good deed, it is time to tap into that nebulous state where things don’t have to make sense, where our circular actions don’t have to fit neatly into the boxes of our creation.

Footnotes

  • 1. Talmud tractate Taanit 25a
TAGS: dreams

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Torah » Kabbalah » Kabbalistic Concepts

Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Kabbalah
Jewish mysticism. The word Kaballah means "reception," for we cannot physically perceive the Divine, we merely study the mystical truths which were transmitted to us by G-d Himself through His righteous servants.
Kabbalistic
(adj.) Pertaining to Kabbalah—Jewish mysticism.