Portrait of the Dream as an un-controlled Prayer and the Prayer as a controlled Dream
Remember Jakob´s Dream of the heaven´s ladder? He came to the place, which would later be called Bethel and slept there and dreamt of a ladder that connects heaven and earth with angels going up and down on it.
The previous Lubavitscher Rebbe said that this ladder symbolizes prayer in our contemporary world. Prayer connects our soul like a ladder with the Divine.
So now one could say that this is not fair, in biblical times they were allowed to have divine dreams in which G-d spoke to them, they had a sea that God would split for Moses and all of those other miracles, and the only thing we can do now is pray, without any direct contact? How unromantic!
I would like to discuss how I interpret the words of the Rebbe, and present to you an idea that came to my mind – that a dream can be an un-controlled prayer, and a prayer can be a controlled dream.
In order to explain this, I first would like to tell you a story about the Baal Shem Tov that I found in a book of Elie Wiesel.
The Baal Shem Tov loved the Jewish people. When he sensed they were in danger he went to a secret place in the woods, light up a special fire and say a special prayer – and the people were saved from danger.
At some point the Baal Shen Tov passed away and the Maggid of Mezritch became the spiritual leader. And when he sensed the Jewish people were in danger, he went to the secret place in the woods and prayed „God, I do not know how to light the special fire, but I do still know the special prayer. Please let it be good enough!“. And the people were once again saved from danger.
The Maggid passed and after him came Rabbi Moshe-Leib. And when he sensed that the Jewish people were in danger he went to the special place in the woods and prayed „God, I don´t know how to make the special fire, and I don´t know how to say the special prayer, but I still know this secret place in the woods. Please, let it be good enough.“ And once again, the
people were saved.
Rabbi Moshe-Leib passed and after him came Rabbi Israel of Rizin. And when someone told him, that the Jewish people were in danger, he bowed his head and prayed „God, I don´t know how to make the special fire, I don´t know how to say the special prayer and I don´t even know the special place in the woods. All I know is the story (of this tradition). Please let it be
good enough. And once again the people were saved.
So when Jakob and his dream of the heaven´s ladder are comparable to the Baal Shem Tov in the directness of his experience with God – we are compareable to the last Rabbi of the story, who only knows the story and prays.
The stories we have, are our treasure, because they provide us with the pictures for our dreams. The richer the pictures we have, the purer we can live, because we can recognize our situations and find through prayer, purification or meditation the answer or the path that we
In this light, a dream is an uncontrolled prayer, and a prayer a controlled dream.
Remember the romantic scene at the well, when Jakob met Rachel for the first time? What happened? He started crying! The interpretation of this in the Chumash is that he cried because he knew already that they will marry but in the end they won´t be buried together in the same grave. That´s why he cried. Now remember who the mother of Jakob was – Rebecca. How did she become the wife of his father Jizchak? Because Eliezer, the servant,
was sent out to find a wife for Jizchak. Eliezer came to a well, and at that well he met Rebecca and knew that she would be the wife for Jizchak.
So Jakob, when he had to flee from Esav, and came to the well in the land where his mother was from, and then saw Rachel – maybe he started crying for emotional reasons because he recognized his own story in the story of his parents. The pictures of his tradition provided him with the answer for his own story.
In this light, we understand why a dream is an uncontrolled prayer, and a prayer a controlled dream. Hope you liked it, please excuse my English :)