JACOB’S LADDER

Jacob’s Ladder by Marc Chagall, 1973, Saint-paul-de-venice, France 

Jacob’s Ladder:       Genesis 28     Vayetzei     ויצא

10And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran. 11And he lighted upon the place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took one of the stones of the place, and put it under his head, and lay down in that place to sleep.

12And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. 1

3And, behold, the Lord stood beside him, and said: ‘I am the Lord, the God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac. The land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed. 14And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south. And in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

15And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee whithersoever thou goest, and will bring thee back into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.’ 16And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said: ‘Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.’

17And he was afraid, and said: ‘How full of awe is this place! this is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’ 18And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. 19And he called the name of that place [29]Beth-el, but the name of the city was Luz at the first.

20And Jacob vowed a vow, saying: ‘If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, 21so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then shall the Lord be my God, 22and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee.’

The Holy Scriptures, according to the Masoretic text  (1917)  Jewish Publication Society

SACRED DREAMS

SACRED DREAMS

Dreams are intricate to ancient religions. Dreams fill the holy books of the major monotheistic faiths—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. 

Some assert the supreme writings of the three Abrahamic creeds are literal truths. For me, the Bible and the Qur’an and their dream narratives are metaphorical manuals for growth of the soul and expanded awareness. 

The Epic of Gilgamesh, from the eighteenth century BCE, is possibly the oldest work of literature. Gilgamesh, king of Uruk (modern-day Iraq), part god and part man, dreamt of terrifying times filled with falling mountains, storms, wild bulls, and a fire-breathing thunderbird. 

An impending flood, a gliding garden serpent, the beast-like Enkidu, and vivid god-sent dreams read like precursors of the biblical Garden of Eden, Noah’s flood, and Nebuchadnezzar’s madness.  

By the fourth century BCE, Babylonians and Assyrians, living along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers—the region eloquently known as the cradle of civilization—had vanquished fragments of a polytheistic past. In their religious texts, dreams emanated from a singular god. 

Dreams in biblical tales occurred in sacred places or the places were sacred because a divine revelation occurred there. Dozens of dreams fill the Old and New Testaments, the holy teachings of Judaism and Christianity. 

Angels and trances and voices and spirits and visions—siblings of nighttime dreams—grace nearly every page, delivering God’s guidance and prophecy. 

The Talmud, rabbinic teachings of Jewish law, contains a dream manual.

Throughout the Jewish Bible, God speaks to prophets and kings:

In Genesis, “God came to Abimelech (king of Gerar) in a dream of the night” and “God spoke unto Israel in the visions of the night.”

In Exodus, “And the angel of (God) appeared unto him (Moses) in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush.” 

In Numbers, “If there is a prophet among you, I, God, do make Myself known unto him in a vision, I do speak with him in a dream.” 

For me, Jacob’s dream, a mystical occurrence beautifully told in Genesis, is an allegory of the two-way communication dreams tender between God and humankind. 

One night, Jacob, traveling to Haran to find a wife, put a stone under his head and slipped into sleep. 

Like angels ascending and descending Jacob’s ladder, dreams link the heaven and the earth, the cosmic and the physical.  

 The angel Gabriel visited Mary and divulged she would bear the Son of God: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” 

After he learned of the pending birth, Joseph thought about deserting Mary, his betrothed, but the “angel of the Lord” came forth in a dream and convinced the reluctant Joseph to wed Mary.

The night Jesus was born in a Bethlehem stable an angel appeared to shepherds in a nearby field. The angel announced the birth of the Messiah and described where to find Him. 

After visiting the baby, the Wise Men dreamt the king of Herod intended to harm Jesus. In three dreams, angels told Joseph how to keep Jesus safe.

A dream birthed another biblical narrative. Around 95 AD, a heavenly figure emerged in a dream to John of Patmos on the Aegean Island where he lived. 

The dream directed him to record his visions. Stars and dragons, seals and a leopard-like beast, dense numerology, and apocalyptic scenarios became Revelation. 

The final book of the Christian Bible tells the sensational stories of the Four Horsemen and the Second Coming of Christ.

Dreams are also intricate to the holy books and teachings of Islam. 

Muhammad, a shepherd and merchant, was meditating in a cave near Mecca when the angel Gabriel pronounced in a dream to the future prophet and founder of Islam, “O Muhammad, you are the messenger of Allah.”  

From 610 CE, when Muhammad was nearly forty until his death twenty-three years later, the angel in dreams and visions imparted the Qur’an, believed by Muslims to be the word of God.

Dreams foretold the course of the first female Muslim saint, Rābia al-Basri. After she was born in Basra, Iraq, in 717, Muhammad told her father in a dream, “Your newly born daughter is a favorite of the Lord, and shall lead many Muslims to the right path.” Al-Basri founded Sufism, the mystical aspect of Islam.  

A prescriptive dream induced Persian scholar Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari to compile the Muslim religious book, Sahīh al-Bukhārī. His dream is recounted in Hady al-Sari, the introduction to Fath al-Bari by Ibn Hajr: “I saw the Prophet in a dream, and it was as if I was standing in front of him. In my hand was a fan with which I was protecting him. I asked some dream interpreters, who said to me, ‘You will protect him from lies.’” 

The Sahīh al-Bukhārī, translated as authentic or correct, published around 846, is a collection of oral prophetic traditions. 

One passage illustrates the significance Muslims attach to dreams: “Whenever the Prophet finished the (morning) prayer, he would face us and ask, ‘Who amongst you had a dream last night?’ So if anyone had seen a dream he would narrate it. 

“The Prophet would say, ‘Mā shā’a-llāh’ (‘What Allah has willed’).”  

                    –From Dreams and the Wisdom Within by Joyce Lynn

 

WHY EMBRACE DREAM AWARENESS

Dreams strengthen the spiritual seeker and houses of worship, nurture personal growth, and empower communities – all values of today’s Jewish institutions. JASD aims to re-instill appreciation of dreams to synagogue services and individual and communal Jewish life by empowering the affiliated and unaffiliated to call on the power of dreams in all aspects of life.

We explore the potency of Jewish and interfaith communities sharing dreams, and draw upon the positive insights and actions flowing from attention to our dreams.

 

 

 

MISSION

 

The mission of the Jewish Association of Spirituality and Dreams (JASD) is to rediscover and embrace dream wisdom as a fundamental pillar of Jewish spirituality and impart dream awareness as a spiritual practice for all faiths. Our aim is to create a global community of dreamers focused on tikkun atzmi and tikkun olam, healing ourselves and our world. 

Dreams strengthen the spiritual seeker and houses of worship, nurture personal growth, and empower communities – all values of today’s Jewish institutions. JASD aims to re-instill appreciation of dreams to synagogue services and individual and communal Jewish life by empowering the affiliated and unaffiliated to call on the power of dreams in all aspects of life.

We explore the potency of Jewish and interfaith communities sharing dreams, and draw upon the positive insights and actions flowing from attention to our dreams.

JASD emphasizes the educational rather than the psychological aspects of dreams, the transformational rather than the therapeutic, and the sacred rather than the scientific. JASD programs and publications dispel the notion propagated in traditional texts that it is mostly men, prophets, and royalty who receive Divine guidance and recognize Divine will. JASD will teach how the sage wisdom of dreams is available to each and every person. Dreams enable all of us to expand our potential, experience spiritual growth, and foster the common good through the guiding, protective, healing, and transformative power of dreams.

Activities 

The Jewish Association of Dreams and Spirituality will integrate dream awareness into Jewish life through presentations, programs, and classes at synagogues, Jewish centers, campus Hillel chapters, Sisterhoods, youth groups, retreats, and interfaith events. The COVID-19 pandemic, requiring social distancing and other measures as of March, 2020, has, for the foreseeable future, required shifting many of our programs to virtual and other digital modalities. 

Primary ways to  accomplish our mission:

    • Create and publish a textbook and a prayerbook filled with historical, liturgical, and literary dream references to be a part of JASD services and other religious and public activities. The publications will educate both those familiar and unfamiliar with dreams and dreaming. We will teach dream journaling and sharing as well as how to remember, understand, listen to, and integrate dream lessons for positive personal and social change.

   • Facilitate dream circles and Chalom Circles as integral parts of individual, synagogue, and communal life. JASD will create a protocol for these sacred circles that may be offered by houses of worship, organizations, and groups. The Association will establish a program to train facilitators.

       • Revive the traditional ritual, the Amelioration of Dreams, to synagogue services and community life. The Talmudic practice (Talmud Bavli, Berakhot 55b) laces biblical accounts and prayer with the healing power of dreams. The dreamer is called to present the dream before three witnesses, who listen and respond according to a specified list of pronouncements (Appendix 2).

     • Write a regular column for mainstream Jewish publications on dreams and dreaming. We will recall dreams relating to Torah portions, dreams on the Sabbath holding special significance, and dreams infusing creative problem-solving, from the personal to the practical. 

      • Establish and maintain a website connecting a global community of dreamers toward evincing healing and peace. 

 Interfaith Component

Dreams are integral to all religions of the world. Dreams fill the holy books of the major monotheistic faiths—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Appendix 1).e

The strong interfaith component of the Association draws upon and expands the historical roots of dreams in world religions and enhances the power of dreams within and among individual faiths. JASD will provide the opportunity for interfaith sharing of dreams as paths toward working together to inspire peace in the home, community, and world.

ENVISIONING

What if we in the Jewish community and beyond  shared our dreams with each other? What insights might flow from calling upon our nocturnal messages? How might we, individually and communally, use our dreams for healing?

 

 

CONTACT

                                                         

                                                                 Joyce Lynn                                 

                                                      Co-Founder/Director

                               Jewish Association of Spirituality and Dreams

                                   P.O. Box 7152, Louisville, Kentucky 40257

                                                              JASD28.org

                                                   Dreaming@JASD28.org

                                                             502-263-7001

The Jewish Association of Spirituality and Dreams Ltd is organized  as an Unincorporated Non-Profit Association (UNPA) under the 2015  Ky Revised Statutes CHAPTER 273A -Certificate #1079528.

The Jewish Association of Spirituality and Dreams Ltd is a 501(c)(3)  not-for-profit organization.