Dreams in Torah

Dreams in Torah
A dream image by Salvador Dali of a ship with butterfly wing sails.

“Jacob dreamed: a ladder was standing on the ground, and its top reached up toward heaven. God’s angels were going up and down on it.” (Bereisheet/Genesis 28:12)

Dreams, says Torah, are key to communication with God. In a dream, Abraham learns that his great, great grandchildren will pass through slavery to freedom. Isaac is comforted after his father’s death by a dream that God is with him. Jacob’s dreams show him that heaven and earth are connected. And God tells Miriam directly, “When someone among you experiences divine prophecy, I speak with them in a dream!” (Bamidbar/Numbers 12:6)

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Lyadi teaches that dreams are a glimpse into God’s process of creating the world. In the earliest stages of creation, reality consists of undefined seeds with unlimited potential. Each seed might become one thing or another. No logical or scientific rules determine how things change and grow. Torah calls this stage of reality “tohu va’vohu” or chaos. Similarly, in dreams opposites can coexist. Illogical circumstances are logical. Each image is an undefined seed that might become one thing or another.

Dreams remind us that creation was not a one-time event. Just under the surface of our everyday consciousness is the knowledge that the world is filled with potential. Our choices each and every day influence the growth of the seeds of the world. May we wake up from our dreams each morning aware of creation’s newness, ready to use our own creative potential for good!

Inspired by Rabbi Yossi Marchus

For more reflections on Parshat Vayetze, click here.

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