I Have A Dream...

Jacob's response to his dream teaches us to turn our dreams into visions and our visions into reality.

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Bereshit Rabba 68:11
1: "And he dreamed"--Rabbi Abbahu said, "Dreams have no influence whatsoever." "Bar Kappara taught, "No dream is without its interpretation."

What is the difference between these statements? Can a dream have no influence on a person yet still have significance worth interpretation?

2: "The Rabbis related it to Sinai."--The ladder symbolizes Mt. Sinai. The angels symbolize Moses and Aaron. "And behold the Lord stood beside him" symbolizes that God came down on Sinai.

Is there anything beyond an allegory to connect Jacob's dream to the Revelation at Sinai?

According to the tradition, if two words share the same gematria (numerical equivalent) then there is a deeper connection between them. The connection the rabbis show is that the ladder (sulam) and Sinai each have the gematria of 130. Sinai is the ladder that connects the physical world and the spiritual world.

A Word

Every human being has dreams. Jacob had a dream and he saw the mountaintop: Sinai! Rabbi Shlomo Riskin once wrote, "The fact of the matter is that a person can dream when he's asleep and can dream when he's awake. But only the dreams that one dreams when he/she is awake can become transformed into the visions which change reality."

May each of us wake from our sleep and see, like Jacob, that "Surely the Lord is in this (and every) place and we did not know it." If we take our dreams and transform them into visions, and turn our visions into reality, then we will fulfill the promise of God to our father Jacob, "Through you and your descendents shall all the families of the earth be blessed."

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Rabbi Ed Rosenthal

Rabbi Ed Rosenthal is the Campus Rabbi and Executive Director of Cornell Hillel: The Yudowitz Center for Jewish Campus Life.