In this week’s parashah, Vayeshev, we read about Yosef’s dreams of becoming a ruler. Then, at the end of the parashah, we read about the dreams of the sar ha’mashkim and sar ha’ofim. Then, in next week’s parashah, we read about the dreams of Pharaoh. All of those dreams carried important messages from shamayim. In general, most of our dreams are meaningless. But even today, sometimes people have dreams that carry real messages from shamayim as well.
The sefer Hashem L’negdi writes about an amazing dream in which the mother of Rabbi Avraham Genochovsky appeared to Rabbi Shmuel Baruch Werner, author of sefer Mishpeteh Shmuel. The dream is written up in the introduction to the sefer Na’ot Ephraim who heard it directly from the mouth of Rabbi Avraham Genochovsky, who passed away just six years ago.
After his mother had passed away, Rabbi Avraham’s father asked him to write a small book in his mother’s memory. He undertook the project and wrote a kuntres on Masechet Horayot and named it Cheder Horati. His father was so happy with the work, he gave out the sefer to his friends and acquaintances, one of which, was Rav Shmuel Baruch Werner. One morning, Rabbi Shmuel Baruch called up Rabbi Avraham Genochovsky with great excitement in his voice. “I have to tell you what happened to me last night!” he exclaimed. “You’re mother, the tzadeket, appeared to me in my dream and said in the sefer that I wrote, Mishpeteh Shmuel, I asked the following question: “Why does it say in Masechet Kiddushin, if parents are divorced, in the laws of kibbud av v’em, there’s no preference as to which parent the child has to honor first, yet, in Masechet Horayot, from the Mishna on daf yud gimmel, it seems that he should have to honor the father.” Then she told me, “My son wrote a kuntres in my memory, and he asked the same question. Go take a look.”
“When I woke up the next morning, I ran to get your book, and indeed, there it was, the exact same question that I asked.” Rabbi Avraham then said, “This is amazing! My mother didn’t only know the contents of the sefer that I wrote in her memory, she also knew the contents of what other sefarim say as well. And she was so excited that I asked that question, that was found in your sefer, it gave her so much pleasure.”
That dream give him chizuk in the knowledge that his mother is living on happily in gan eden.
Sometimes a dream gives us a good feeling about a loved one who has passed on, and sometimes those loved ones are allowed to come back in a dream to help us.
The sefer Emunah Shelemah told a story which a friend of his told him about his neighbor. That neighbor’s wife has just given birth prematurely, and the baby weighed less than two pounds. Afterwards, she was unable to move her legs. After a full week in the hospital, with many different doctors trying to help her, not only wasn’t she able to move her legs, she didn’t have any feeling in either of them. She was totally paralyzed. The doctors thought it might be a neurological issue and they wanted to send her to another facility to have her checked out. They added, there’s a good chance she’ll never walk again. The family was shattered.
Her husband asked one of his neighbors to go to Rebbetzin Kolodetsky, Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s daughter, to get a beracha immediately for his wife. The neighbor went. In the meantime, the woman’s family was sitting around her bedside while she was asleep. A few hours later, she woke up and she said, “I can feel my legs and she started moving them around.” Everyone was shocked.
The woman proceeded to tell them about a dream she just had. Her brother’s wedding was coming up, and she saw herself sitting in a chair watching everyone dancing there. Suddenly, Rebbetzin Batsheva Kanievsky approached her and asked her why she wasn’t dancing. “I can’t dance.”, she replied, “My legs are paralyzed.” The Rabbanit then told her, “What do you mean you can’t dance? This is your brother’s wedding, you have to dance.”
The woman then asked the Rabbanit, “What are you doing here? I was at your funeral.” The Rabbanit answered, “Yes, that’s true, but now I’m back to bring simcha to the chatan v’kallah. Come with me right away.” She stretched out her hand, and pulled her up, and they began dancing and that was the end of the dream.
Just fifteen minutes after this woman woke up, she started to walk. This was the power of the beracha she got from Rabbanit Batsheva’s daughter, Rebbetzin Kolodetsky.
Dreams can be very inspiring. Most of the time we dream about what’s on our mind during the day. But on a rare occasion, those who have passed on are allowed to communicate with those down here through a dream.
A few years ago I visited someone to introduce him to our yeshiva for adults and ask for his support. He had never heard anything like it; honestly, he was impressed. He said he liked our unique approach that gives access to in-depth Torah learning and provides real skills to those who didn’t acquire that knowledge earlier in life. He liked our offering serious classes for women also. I asked him for a sizable gift. His reply reflected the successful businessman that he is.
“I give generously to various institutions. Yours was not on my list. However, after hearing about the great work you do and how many people you’re influencing, I would like to lend my support. You see, I view this as an investment. A good investor has a portfolio, reflecting a diversity of investment types. I am going to invest in your yeshiva and place it in my portfolio.”
His response reflected the words of Rav Dessler: A person needs to be a giver, not a taker. We all are recipients at some point, but we often feel unsatisfied when taking. Hashem made humans that way. Giving is what it’s all about: a husband to a wife, a parent to a child. Indeed, newborn infants are totally dependent on their parents. Parents give and give to their children. They feed them, clothe them, educate them, encourage them, soothe their aches and teach them skills. Being a parent is a life of giving!
A similar perspective is seen in Parshas Vayishlach. Yaakov went alone to fetch the small jugs he left behind. He was attacked by the angel of Esav. They wrestled throughout the night as the angel of Esav kept trying, without success, to harm Yaakov. Finally, the angel hit Yaakov in kaf yericho, the ball of his thighbone (Rashi 32:26).
Why does it say the angel was unsuccessful if he indeed hurt Yaakov by hitting his thighbone? The Zohar says he was unable to actually hurt Yaakov, but he struck at future supporters of Torah. The Chofetz Chaim explains that Yaakov himself symbolized Torah learning, and the angel of Esav attempted to stop Yaakov and his future children who would learn Torah. That he wasn’t able to do. But Esav was successful in dealing a blow to people who fund Torah learning. This is symbolized by the yerach, the hip, which supports the body, as the supporters of Torah hold up Torah study.
The angel chose this moment to attack—right after Yaakov had returned to get his small jugs. The angel sensed vulnerability; even though the jugs weren’t worth that much, Yaakov still seemed to value material items enough to spend a lot of time to retrieve them! But it didn’t work. Yaakov and his future offspring of Torah learners would not in fact diminish their Torah study to pursue money. Indeed, they would see monetary assets as gifts from Hashem to use to support their Torah study! Even the jugs were resources, not to be wasted. However, for working people who support the Torah study of others, the challenge is harder because they are in the financial world. They are pulled to focus their attention on many areas and objectives and it can be hard to keep their priorities in proper order. This was the target of attack for Esav’s angel.
The attack lasted all night. Interestingly, the Midrash says the night represents our time in exile. The struggle ended at dawn—alos hashachar—which refers to the time of Moshiach. My friends, this remains an epic struggle.
Giving is a key part of the human psyche. But Esav’s angel made it a challenge. It’s a battle, especially when the giving is to help further Torah study. I want to thank3 all those strong individuals who have won their battle of values, opened their hearts and invested in our yeshiva. Right now, the battle is on! Our dinner campaign, which is our major fundraiser to help cover a large portion of the Yeshiva Ner Boruch-PTI/ Neve PTI operating budget, is in its final hours. Our supporters are truly strong, committed individuals who invest in the quality Torah learning that takes place in our unique yeshiva, where over 200 men and women learn as a result of the various opportunities provided throughout the week.
May your investments yield tremendous dividends, both in this world and the world to come!