What do Rebbe Nachman, the Wu-Tang Clan, the Abarbanel and Led Zeppelin have in common? Not much, but they all made their way into this week’s dvar/article;)
So much of emunah (faith) and connectedness revolve around sleep and dreams, at least for me. In moments of faithlessness and doubt, I sometimes get overwhelmed with anxiety and find it hard to sleep– thoughts are racing through my head, and I find it hard not to think of things from every angle. It’s a cycle that is sometimes tough to quiet, at least enough to slip into slumber. Dreams, too, however far out, are often connected to the state each of us are in at that time. Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic approach to oneirology (the scientific study of dreams) is that they are partially drawn from experiences and stimuli in the waking world. He says that dreams are our road map to the unconscious, reflecting our deepest desires and wishes.
It’s written in Peirush HaRokeach that a person’s spiritual stature can be recognized through their dreams; even when we are doing nothing [i.e. during sleep], our thoughts may still be that Hashem is standing over us. The way I see it, we can create sound sleep and healthy dreams by strengthening our emunah and bitachon (trust).
In this parashah we see Yakov having his famous dreams where Hashem is speaking to him and “standing over him”, at the top of a ladder that reaches the heavens, upon which angels are ascending and descending.
This is the month of Kislev, when we read of these famous dreams (Yakov, Yosef, Chief Butler and Baker in Egypt, Pharaoh…). Sefer Yetzirah associates the month of Kislev with sleep, as the nights start to feel longer. At night, one can be drawn to their yetzer hara and busy themselves with desires that take them further away from being connected to the Light of the Infinite. As is stated in The Zohar, “When the night is split (i.e. at midnight), then a call goes out, ‘Like birds caught in a trap, so too are men caught.'”
But on the other end, there is an opportunity in the darkness to connect on a deeper level, to wake up from one’s spiritual slumber. The Chatam Sofer teaches that the first day of the month of Kislev falls exactly forty days after Sukkot. He calls it a mini Yom Kippur, containing in it the power to help us change our negative habits.
Jump into the full dvar, where I dive deep into how humility brings blessings which we see throughout this week.
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