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Dream Come True

Yerucham Landesman

We’re fascinated by dreams — the latest interpretation of the dream of a mekubal detailing when The End will come, about who a rebbe saw in his dream, and the possibility of unlocking the meanings of our own dreams. Rebbes of the last generations talked and wrote extensively about their dreams. Were they prophetic or personal, tales of the past or tools for further growth? A peek into the hidden world of holy dreams.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Many years ago, a young Lelover chassid studying in Yeshivas Ponovezh began to suffer from nightmares that haunted him all day and robbed him of precious nighttime sleep, leaving him a nervous wreck. He saw horrible things happening to his family. He beheld death, funerals, and tombstones and would awaken in a cold sweat. He fasted and made a hatavas chalom, but the dreams persisted. When he could no longer bear it, he went to seek out the Lelover Rebbe at his home on Rabbi Akiva Street in Bnei Brak.

The Rebbe, the Bircas Moshe, listened attentively to his woeful story but dismissed it with a wave of his hand, saying, “You have nothing to worry about. Dreams that presage real events are only experienced by people who are so successful at guarding their thoughts that no foreign thought ever intrudes upon their mind for even a fleeting moment. Pure tzaddikim, people of exalted level, are the only ones who should give any weight to their dreams and take them seriously.”

So then, what of the dreams of tzaddikim and men of great spiritual stature? These weeks, we are surrounded by dreams — the holy dreams of Yaakov, Yosef, and even Pharaoh. But we also know about dreams of our modern-day righteous ones. How seriously do they take their dreams?

The Gerrer Rebbe, the Lev Simchah, who escaped from Europe to Eretz Yisrael in 1940, once appeared in the beis din of the Eidah HaChareidis with a question: He had dreamed that his brother, Rav Yitzchak, had passed away. Must he practice aveilus, the laws of mourning? The dayanim reassured him that dreams were not to be taken seriously and that one does not take any halachic measures based on a dream.

When the Lev Simchah returned home, a Yid asked him, “Why were you so upset by the dream? Everyone knows that dreams have no real basis.” The Lev Simchah replied, “When a person guards his thoughts, his dreams must not be discounted as irrelevant.”

The following day, a cable arrived that his brother had passed away the previous night. 

The rosh yeshivah of Porat Yosef, Rav Ezra Attiah ztz”l, had occasional dreams in which he was privy to coming events. During World War I, he lived in Egypt, after fleeing from the Turks in Eretz Yisrael, who arrested and drafted every able-bodied man in sight. On the eve of June 17, 1916 (5675), when he lay down for a brief sleep after an exhausting day of Torah dissemination, he had a dream in which his brother, Rav Eliyahu — who had remained in Eretz Yisrael, appeared. He spoke accusingly, “Why aren’t you saying Kaddish for me?”

Rav Ezra awoke in a fright, since he had left his brother healthy. Communication during the war was nonexistent, and only years later was he to learn that his brother had been drafted into the Turkish army, had contracted typhus and been released, only to be hospitalized in Jerusalem, where he passed away shortly after. Nevertheless, he relied on his dream and began reciting Kaddish for the soul of his deceased brother.

He foresaw the Arab riots of 1929 many months before they happened through recurrent dreams, and responded to these dream messages and presages by fasting and praying intensively. Miraculously, the students of his beloved yeshivah, for whose welfare he prayed so hard, were unharmed during those riots.

Rav Ezra Attiah’s son, Rav Yosef, was later drafted during the War of Independence in 1948, and seemed to have simply disappeared. His father feared the worst, until one night when Rav Ezra was visited by the Maharsha, whose works the Rosh Yeshivah studied and taught devotedly and continuously. The Maharsha reassured him that all was well with his son. Later, Rav Yosef’s name was discovered on a Red Cross list of captives held by the Jordanian Legion.

 

 

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