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Dreams and Visions

Zohar, Page 149b; translation and commentary by Simcha Treister


Come and see: It is written "And he [Jacob] dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and he saw angels of Elo-him ascending and descending on it." (Gen. 28:12) Now could it be that the holy Jacob, who represents the perfection of the forefathers, only merited to have the Holy One blessed be He appear to him in a dream? Furthermore he was at the site of the future Temple on Mount Moriah yet only perceived G-d in a dream! But Jacob was not yet married at that time and was therefore incomplete and not worthy of perceiving the spiritual at the level of prophecy. The tzadik of the generation, his father Isaac, was also still alive at that time and therefore the primary source of divine revelation still appeared through him.

Now you might say that even after he was married, it is written that Jacob "saw in a dream" (Gen. 31:10) the striped spotted and speckled rams, but that was outside Israel, which is the Holy Land, where the level of prophecy can be attained, and also then Isaac was alive. It was only later, when Jacob returned to the Holy Land with his sons, the Tribes, accompanied by Rachel and Leah and the holy Shechina which dwelled with them, as it is written "the mother of sons is happy" (Psalms 113:9), that Jacob reached the level of seeing a vision. Of this time it is written, "Elo-him appeared to Jacob" (Gen. 35:9), and "Elo-him said to Jacob in a night time vision" (Gen. 46:2). It is not written that Jacob "dreamed" during this period because he was at a different and higher spiritual level.

Come and see, dreams are facilitated through the angel Gabriel, who is six levels below the level of prophecy.

Prophecy is associated with the sefirot of netzach and hod of Atzilut. From hod count six sefirot, yesod, malchut, chochma, bina, chesed - to arrive at gevura of the world of Beriya, from which dreams emanate. Gabriel constricts the burst of abundance received by the dreamer, or prophet, from the Infinite Light.

[There is another type of revelation called "A reflection of prophecy" or] "Mareh" [, which is a vision seen as if in a mirror, in Hebrew, "mareh". This revelation] is through the level which is the Life Force that rules in the night. If you say [that this level is also associated with Gabriel, as Daniel says, "And I heard a man's voice resounding between the banks of the river Ulai, and he called and said,] 'Gabriel, make this man understand the vision'" (Daniel 8:16), it is correct that Gabriel is associated with both these levels of dreams and visions, although more so with a "Mareh" because a vision is even harder to decipher. A dream is more readily understandable, and more clearly decipherable, than that which would be seen in a reflection of prophecy [a "Mareh"].

Gabriel is specifically appointed to explain the subject matter of the reflected prophecy because it is more hidden.

The names used to describe G-d's appearance in the visions of "Vayaira" (Gen. 35:9) and "Vaeira" (Ex. 6:3), are similar to the word "Mareh", meaning "mirror". [Thus it is said that the forefathers saw] a vision of El Shadai which was in fact a reflection of the level of malchut of Atzilut. This vision encompasses all other symbols and shapes of the higher worlds, but is only like a mirror that reflects back that which is in front of it, and not what stands behind it.

[In a vision, the spiritual content of the lower world is revealed so that its higher source can be grasped.]


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Shmuel-Simcha Treister is a lawyer from New Zealand who made aliya to Safed with his family in 1993 to study Zohar. He continues doing so to this day. He also works in the Ascent multi-media center.


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