A thought that I had one morning in shul

Rav Yair Dreyfus • 2018

What can people give to the dreams of the one who dwells among them? They provide the trope, the song, and the flavor to the dreams which are hidden and lost, even to the dreamer himself.

I heard the ba’al koreh reading the verses “And he dreamed a dream, and behold, the ladder was standing on the ground, and its head reached the heavens, and behold, angels of God were ascending and descending the ladder”. If Yaakov Avinu would have heard this ba’al koreh, he would haveturned over in his grave.

Yaakov dreamt a dream which moved human understanding from one end of the world to another, changed the face of existence, and caused generations to think and struggle with it; and this ba’al koreh comes along at the end of these generations, and reads it with an Ashkenazi trope, which is so banal, and the reading sounds very boring. Yaakov is turning over in his grave and saying, “How can this be?!?! I wanted to tell you about this, to have you join my experience. Something happened! There was a ladder and angels of God going up and down, and what do you do with it?!?! You turn it into a synagogue ritual, lacking any spirit. All communities throughout the generations read about the dream without thinking at all about what they are saying”.

The initial feeling I experienced was intuitive disappointment. Each and every one of us has dreams and desires inside ourselves and we hope someone will notice. And you start to lein it, to play it in a boring ritualistic manner, as just a regular part of life? It aroused in me a degree of jealousy for the honor of Yaakov.

Then I had a totally new insight. Inside the previous boredom in hearing the reading of the Torah, I found a spark of bright light. I recognized clearly that a person’s most intimate feelings cannot be made known to another person and sometimes our deepest feelings are hidden even from ourselves.

“For I know that God is greater than all gods”. Specifically: ‘I know’, because the greatness of the creator cannot be conveyed to another person. And even to oneself, one cannot maintain it from one day to another. The bright spark of light which shines on this day, cannot be conveyed to oneself the next day. That is why it is said “I know” specifically, I know, for it cannot be conveyed at all”. (Rabbi Nachman of Braslav, Sichot HaRan 1)

The secret remains eternally secret, removed, sublime, above all words and expression. This, however, is precisely the agony of the bearer of the secret. He wants to share, he wants to be trusted that he has dreams, insights, and hidden desires; that he carries worlds which carry him, while shaking the balance of his existence. Only he cannot share his dreams with others.

The dreamer is like a person with mental health issues who wants to be given space, to be taken in, to be accepted, without anyone interfering with his life; he wants only to be granted grace and understanding by others.

What can people give to the dreams of the one who dwells among them? They, and only they, can cantillate his dreams. The other person’s world is always sealed, but the experience of the mystery of “otherness” brings with it reconstructed and new compositions. They provide the trope, the song, and the flavor to the dreams which are hidden and lost, even to the dreamer himself.

Suddenly, I see the ba’al koreh in a new light. Specifically, through his boring reading, through his lack of attention to the reading’s content, he is placed in line with all the generations of scholars and laymen, artists and ba’alei mussar, Jews and non-Jews who all examine this dream, and give it their own tropes.

It has become clear to me that when we redream a dream again and again, when we rest within it, when we talk about it, compose it and roll it from side to side, this is what elevates the dream to the eternity (נצח). The fact that man carries within his subject something very strong - is like a passing shadow and a fleeting dream.

All of our own powerful personal memories eventually disappear, as it is almost impossible for man to put tropes on his own memories and dreams. We are eternally conflicted with ourselves.

The format of Torah study is always in a form where there is a Minyan; there is a group, a community, a crowd which immerse everyone together. This invites all of us to pay attention to our community. It is important to note everyone is bringing something different, that colors the ‘other’ dreams and put tropes on his memories. Through this we can widen our world. We are demanded to listen deeply and give trust in one another, we need to believe in our ability to revive the deepest character of the ‘other’, as he can revive our character. The circles are weaved with each other, and each time we revive another or listen to him, we can widen the story to another circle. And from circle to circle we can try to listen to all the dreams of all people, to give it our trope, and let our dreams be weaved in their trope.

ישיבת שיח יצחק גבעת הדגן - אפרת, מיקוד: 90435