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Life’s Dreams

“I have always had so many dreams. So many hopes and aspirations…”


 


Almost from the moment you became a conscious, breathing and living human being, you began to dream.

 

You dreamed an exquisite dream about how your life would unfold. And you also dreamed specific dreams of what you wanted to achieve out of your life. Of course, just as avidly, you dreamed about what you didn’t want your life to become.

 

You dreamed about your successes and you tried to avoid those dreams about your disappointments. You dreamed about how you’d skillfully overcome your challenges. You dreamed about your brave encounters, about your courage, about those moments, rife with meaning when you finally arrived at your goals and successes.

 

You dreamed about the far-away, scenic countries that you’d tour, about the dream home that you’d build and about the exotic vacations you’d enjoy.

 

You dreamed about the long-lasting friendships that you’d forge, about the dilemmas you’d resolve and the career opportunities that you’d pursue.

 

You dreamed about the kind of parents and siblings that you wished you had and also about the type of parent that you would become. You dreamed about the perfect spouse that you would marry, about the discriminating qualities and character traits that would make up his or her personality. You dreamed about how many children you would have, the color of their hair, the fine features on their faces, the striking personalities that each would possess and the accomplishments that each would attain.

 

But most of all you dreamed about yourself and the type of person you wish you’d become. You dreamed about fulfilling your many yearnings, passions and cravings, your wants and your needs.

 

In retrospect, you realize that some of your dreams were foolish. Some of your aspirations were shallow and insignificant. Some of your hopes were perhaps a little too idealistic or downright unrealistic.

 

Some of your dreams have now been replaced with new ones, while others still hold a dear spot in the deep recesses of your heart and soul.

 

And then some of your dreams were coldly shattered, quashed by the turns and bumps of fate that real life throws at us all.

 

As you look forward to your future, you think about your current dreams – both the big and the little. You wonder if these dreams will materialize, or whether they will remain unfulfilled hopes that never come to fruition.

 

You also think about the dreams and wishes you carry for your loved ones – your family, your children, your spouse – will these dreams ever transpire or will life shower them with their own set of fate?

 

In all honesty, you wonder which of your dreams have real merit. Would life truly be better if all your dreams were realized? Maybe, what seems and feels so good to you, would, in reality, not be for your advantage.

 

In the Diaspora on every festival, and in Israel on every Shabbat (and in some communities in Israel, every day) at the conclusion of our prayers, the Kohanim bless the Jewish people with their centuries-old Priestly blessing. In those moments, the congregation become seriously somber, as we listen to the priests chant their sing-song tune with their hands outstretched, drawing down Divine blessings for their people. The moment radiates with an outpouring of benevolence and reaches its crescendo as the entire congregation concludes with a loud “Amen.” May it indeed be G-d’s will that this abundance of compassion, kindness and protection cascade down to His people.

 

Curiously, as the priests stand with their fingers outstretched blessing their people with this Divine fortune and munificence, the congregants are quietly whispering their own personal prayers.

 

At this auspicious and holy moment, what are the congregants earnestly requesting?

 

Master of the Universe! I am Yours and my dreams are Yours.


I have dreamed a dream and I do not know what it is.


May it be Your will, that all my dreams concerning myself and concerning anyone of Israel, shall be for good…


If they are good dreams, strengthen and reinforce them.


But if they require a remedy, heal them…


As You have changed the curse of the wicked Bilaam from a curse to a blessing, so shall You change all my dreams concerning myself and concerning all of Israel to good!

 

On a simple level, our prayers request an annulment from any bad dreams or nightmares that we might have recently dreamed. Comfortingly, our Sages have reassured us that nowadays, dreams are mostly inconsequential. Therefore, perhaps there is also a deeper message to these prayers.

 

At this moment, after experiencing the uplifting spiritual experience of our prayers, as we stand opposite the priests, we come face to face with our true selves and innermost soul. Perhaps we are now ready to re-evaluate our life’s dreams, expectations and values and to concede that not all of our dreams and goals are positive or productive. And we acknowledge, too, that as we became so busy with the many mundane aspects of living, we haven’t properly extended the necessary exertion to make even our good dreams happen.


In this moment of candor, as an overflow of profuse blessing descends from Above, perhaps we are asking for our most rudimentary need-so crucial to living a happy and fulfilled life.

 

I have dreamed a dream and I do not know what it is.

 

May we be granted the wisdom to dream good dreams – positive and meaningful ambitions, hopes and desires, that will truly promote our growth and welfare.

 

If they are good dreams, strengthen and reinforce them…

 

Help us to realize those good dreams and visions, and strengthen and reinforce them.

 

But if they require a remedy, heal them…

 

But heal those dreams that are unhealthy or unrealistic. Remedy our perspective if it is distorted or confused. Focus our values, yearnings and aspirations to help us find the right path in life.

 

Dreams are such a significant part of being a human being. Let us continue to dream, hope and aspire. But only ones that are valuable, favorable and constructive – for us, and all of Israel.

 

And the congregation all answers, Amen!

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