From Avraham Avinu’s dream about the Brit Bein HaBetarim to the end of Sefer Bereishit, many dreams are described. The question is, what is the power that a dream contains? On one hand, many dreams throughout Tanach have proven to be Nevuot which have come true; however, on the other hand, we all have dreams that are ridiculous and clearly will never come true. So, what is the true significance of a dream?
The Abarbanel answers this question in great detail, a small glimpse of which will be presented. The Gemara (Berachot 55a) states that dreams follow their interpretations. Based on this Gemara, it is quite clear that dreams do not have Mamashut (significance) because if a dream was really the word of Hashem, the interpretation of the dream could not affect Hashem’s words. Conversely, another Gemara (Berachot 57b) describes that dreams are 1/60th of a Nevuah. According to this Gemara, dreams clearly do have great significance. Which Gemara is correct? Do dreams have Mamashut or not?
The Abarbanel answers that really there are two types of dreams. Dreams that do not have Mamashut, such as those that occur because one is sick or scared, have no real significance, and one’s interpretation of them is just guesswork performed by the unintelligent. This is the type of dream discussed in the first Gemara. Additionally, there are dreams which are messages from Hashem and we have to try to interpret them in the way which they were intended to be explained. However, the reason the second Gemara said that only 1/60th of any dream is Nevuah is because there are some elements to every dream that are not real, and it is up to the dreamer to discern what exactly his dream was describing. An example of this can be seen in next week’s Parsha, Mikeitz, when Paroh dreams about seven cows and then about seven bushels of corn. In his interpretation, Yosef had to realize that Paroh’s dreams were not focusing on the cows or corn per se; rather, the dreams were focused on the number seven itself, signifying seven years of plenty to be followed by seven years of famine.