Dreaming for the Future by Noam Weider


In Parashat VaYeitzei, immediately after Yaakov Avinu takes Eisav’i Berachah, he is told by Rivkah, his mother, to go to her brother Lavan’s home. When Yaakov reaches his destination, Lavan enthusiastically welcomes him, offering his daughter in exchange for seven years of work. In that time, Ya that grows exceedingly wealthy, as it states in the Pasuk, “VaYifrotz HaIsh Meod Meod VaYehi Lo Tzon Rabot UShefachot VaAvadim UGemalim VaChamorim,” “And the man increased greatly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and manservants, and camels, and donkeys” (BeReishit 30:43).

Later, however, Hashem instructs Yaakov to return home. When describing God’s instruction to his wives, Yaakov tells them how he learned of Hashem's message in a dream. Yaakov tells them how "VaEsa Einai VaEire BaChalom VeHinei HaAtudim HaOlim Al HaTzon Akudim Nekudim UVerudim," "And I lifted my eyes and saw in my dream, and behold, the rams that jumped on the cattle were striped, spotted, and speckled" (31:10). How is Yaakov’s dream about striped and spotted cows and sheep relevant to the instruction that he should return home? The answer lies not in the specific content of his dream, but rather in how it relates to another event in his life. On his journey to Charan, Yaakov famously dreams of angels who climb a ladder to heaven.

When viewed in the proper context, the meaning of the second dream is obvious. It is the contrast between his two dreams that make him realize that he has to return home. When Yaakov first leaves his home, he is on such a high level that he dreams of angels going to heaven; now, after spending twenty years with his cheat of an uncle, he is dreaming of sheep -and cows - lowly material possessions!

Yaiakov knew that he could learn even from dreams that seemed to have no rhyme or reason. Even these can be messages from Hashem.

Indeed, we see the significance of dreams recurring throughout the centuries, from the Torah through the Gemara. Yosef has the talent of interpreting both his own dreams and the dreams of others and finding within them important messages. Yirmiyahu states (Yirmiyahu 23:28), "HaNavi Asher Ito Chalom Yesaper Chalom VaAsher Devari Ito Yedaber Devari Emet," "The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream, and he who has my word let him speak my word truthfully." Yirmiyahu explains that the Nevuah given to the average man comes as a dream, and therefore everyone should speak about his or her dreams.

The Gemara (Berachot 55a), too, discusses the importance of dreams. Rav Chisda says that a dream that is left uninterrupted is like a letter left unread, and the meaning should be discovered. Many other rabbis teach that dreams have meaning. Ravah Bar Bar Chanah says regarding the Pasuk in Kohelet which reads, "VeHaElokim Asah SheYir’u MiLefanav," "and God does it so man should fear him" (Kohelet 3:14), is speaking about a bad dream. In our daily lives we should be sure to not simply right off our dreams without taking a second look as they might shed significant light on the proper direction of our lives.

Nehama Leibowitz on Lavan’s Substitution by Aryeh Krischer

Individual Impact by Hillel Koslowe