The Bible Says What? Some dreams genuinely predict he future

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The Bible Says What? Some dreams genuinely predict he future

Rabbi Deborah Blausten takes a topic from the Torah and looks at a Reform response

(Photo by Kyle Smith on Unsplash)
(Photo by Kyle Smith on Unsplash)

Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams, which has been at the centre of our Torah narrative for the past few weeks, suggests some dreams allude to concealed truths about the future. With the right interpreter at hand, real insight into the world can be gleaned.

The Talmud teaches that dreams are one sixtieth of prophecy, but what does that actually mean? And does it mean that we should worry that concealed within every nightmare or bizarre dream might be a secret message about what is about to happen to us?

Sigmund Freud famously thought that dreams reveal something about the subconscious, and although scientists agree that our dreams are a result of some kind of internal processing, nobody really knows whether there is any sense or logic to be made from the snippets of the dreams people remember upon waking.

The rabbis distinguish between ordinary dreams and prophecy, a category that includes the dreams of Joseph, and others such as Daniel or Isaiah. Instead, they say that the meaning of dreams depends on how they are interpreted.

In an age beyond the world of prophecy, dreams are not sent by God to tell us something about our future but, within the process of dreaming and processing, our internal and external worlds, many people experience insight or revelations about their own lives. 

Those dreams do not predict a future ordained by God, but they can hand people the opportunity to act, and it is our actions that truly have the power to shape our futures.

  • Rabbi Deborah Blausten serves Finchley Reform Synagogue
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