Vayetze: Chapter 8

Prophecy vision, dream


In this extremely important and mysterious section of the Zohar, the rabbis make complex and subtle distinctions concerning the nature of prophecy, visions, and dreams. They then apply their conclusions to the role of the Jews in exile. Rabbi Yitzchak continues his discussion with Tzadok the Little, his companion of the previous verses. Although dreams, prophecies, and visions are all sent by the Angel Gabriel, we learn that dreams are a relatively inferior means of enlightenment. Visions and dreams may dramatically vary in nature, according to the level of consciousness of those who receive them, and of those who are able - or unable - to interpret them. Moreover, a dream can sometimes be used to explain the meaning of a waking vision. The rabbis use the powerful symbolism of the story of Jacob's Ladder to explain how dreams and visions link human consciousness to the upper realms. When the children of Israel are sinful, their sin expresses itself partly through the Creator's turning away from them and granting the gift of His inspiration to great leaders in other lands, who may one day become the enemies of Israel. Similarly, when King Solomon falls into sin, he is denied the level of vision that had once inspired him to build Jerusalem's Temple; henceforth he must rely only on dreams for inspiration. This culminates in the sad decline into paganism, and the political and financial ruin that the king and his kingdom suffered in later years. Finally, we are told that as a man ages, his inner vision dims as much as his outer vision or eyesight.


The Light released through the Hebrew letters inspires us to foster and follow the guidance of visions and dreams on both conscious and subconscious levels. During sleep, our dreams ascend to the higher levels of the spiritual realms, where we are assisted, in subtle ways, by the wisdom and supernal Light of the Creator in all our endeavors.