The Courage to Dream

Since the first handshake with the arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat on the lawn of the White House we have been living in a strange, almost surrealistic, nightmare. Truthfully, the nightmare has been going on for a very long time. It actually began with the destruction of the Temple and the long night of exile. A long night that included pogroms, crusades, forced conversions, expulsions and gas chambers.

Yet, when an Israeli Prime Minister shook the hand of the devil in Washington, the nightmare became even more intense and frightening. The handshake symbolized the beginning of a time when nothing made sense anymore. The enemy ceased to only lie in waiting outside the ghetto walls or in the other part of the village. The dangers began from within the very body of the Jewish people.

Awake or Dreaming

The mystery and power of dreams lies in the fact that all things can coexist in a dream. Emotions that contradict each other can permeate a dream where even the impossible coexists with the possible. They seem to come out of the deepest parts of our souls and whisper of hopes and hidden desires. Yet, at the same time, they rage with the passion of the greatest fears along with the most delicate of hopes.

The first exile of the Jews began with dreams. The dreams of Jacob, followed by the dreams of Joseph and Pharaoh all culminated in the long exile of Egypt. Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi , the Baal HaTanya, explains that exile was born out of a succession of dreams because exile is the ultimate dream.

It is in this world of spiritual exile that white is seen as black and black is seen as white. It is a situation in which opposites reign, and seven fat cows in Pharaoh’s dream can be eaten by seven lean cows and the lean remain lean. It is a state that, in our days, allows a politician whose only major talent is the gift of the tongue can become the “leader of the free world”

Spiritual exile is exile from simple unadulterated truth, just as it is in a dream. It is a dream that is cluttered with unwarranted exaggeration, muddled and confused metaphors, with consistent inconsistency. In essence, this dream state describes painfully the state of affairs in the world in general and in Israel in particular.

Yet everything is possible in a dream.

As Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook writes, everything is possible in a dream – both the negative and the positive. A single dream may contain conflicting messages, since it reflects the conflicting qualities within each soul. Such is true of the collective soul of a people as well. When the wine butler tells Pharaoh about the unusual slave he met in prison called Joseph, he says, “Just as he interpreted, so (my dream) came to be.” (Genesis 41:13)

This prompted our sages to declare a fact that has been increasingly adopted by modern psychology: “Dreams are fulfilled according to their interpretation.” (Berachot 55b)

The interpreter does not refashion the future, rather he reaches into the positive depths of each conflicted dreamer and empowers the dreamer to live up to those qualities. There are those in this country who will interpret the dream that is our reality with predictions of doom and gloom. There are others, though, who will reach deeper and find the qualities of hope and vision that will lead this people into a safe harbor.

We must search for those dreamers for as the Psalmist wrote, ” When HaShem brought back those that returned to Zion, we were as dreamers.” (Psalms 126s)

We must search out the dreamers who see the strengths of this people and not their weaknesses. Reach out not to those who — out of lost hope — tear down and declaim. Reach out to leaders, some of whom may not be cognizant of the spiritual heart that burns within them, who nevertheless offer voice to those exact yearnings.Look for them amongst the young zealous pioneers who will be the tools of the Divine redemptive plan.

3 thoughts on “The Courage to Dream”

  1. What depth of insight in this article! Israel is in the prayers of our church (Bethel Church of Downsville, Louisiana) every Sunday morning.
    Becky McCann

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