As a teacher, you plan a lesson or story and “think” you know where the children (or adults) will go with it. Telling about Jacob’s dream about the ladder and the angels, I was sure we would talk about angels but the kids wanted to talk about dreams! So we talked about dreams and whether they are real and what we can learn from them. This led me (and the class) back to the Torah, which led me to a bit more research helped by a d’var Torah by Rabbi Stephen S. Pearce, senior rabbi emeritus of Congregation Emanu-El of San Francisco.
You can always fact-check me and let me know where I went wrong, but there are only 10 dreams recorded in the Torah and they all are in the Book of Genesis. Here they are but you have to go to the book for the details:
- Genesis 20:3-7
- Genesis 28:12-15
- Genesis 31:10- 13
- Genesis 31:22-24
5 & 6. Genesis 37:5-11
7 & 8. Genesis 40:7-19
9 & 10. Genesis 41:1-7
Each of us has recounted dreams to others asking for help to understand the meaning. It would be great if we saw what happened next as in the Book of Genesis. However, there are also those dreams that are hopes and wishes for things to happen. The Jewish New Year has passed and the secular New Year will be over by the time you read this. I would guess that most of us celebrated in some fashion and we will think about those resolutions that are joked about. However, is a new year’s resolution a dream…a hope…a wish? Or is it a promise…a commitment? How can we make those resolutions/dreams/wishes/commitments come true?
Hopefully by the time you read this, you will have not forgotten Hanukkah or your new year’s resolutions. Rabbi Pearce writes in his d’var Torah: “This season of Hanukkah provides an opportunity to take a page from the Book of Genesis and recognize that there may be more than luck to having dreams turn out as anticipated…It takes awareness that personal intervention rather than passive waiting for an outcome may, at times, turn dreams into reality. The Maccabees…took up the challenge of forcefully turning their dreams into reality.” And let us remember Theodor Herzl’s words: “If you will it, it is no dream.”
Laura Seymour is director of camping services at the Aaron Family JCC.