Humor: What a Nightmare!


Humor: What a Nightmare!

Rebecca Klempner

Although I needed to recover from hours of cooking and cleaning, I decided it was worth standing on my feet a bit longer in order to attend synagogue several times during this past yom tov season. I urgently wanted to say the yehi ratzon prayer during the Priestly Blessing in order to rectify a whole slew of dreams.

There was the nightmare in which I was riding in a school bus beside my youngest daughter when the driver suddenly disappeared. Forced to take the wheel, I discovered that my feet couldn’t reach the pedals and my hands couldn’t reach the enormous steering wheel. As the bus swerved into oncoming traffic, I woke up, bracing myself for the crash.

Then I had a nightmare in which I was lost in a jungle. Deadly fer-de-lance snakes lurked in the underbrush, while clouds of biting sand flies hovered over my skin. (Note to self: Do not read books about cursed archeological sites deep in the rainforests of Honduras at bedtime.)

I also had several dreams that were just plain weird: In one, my husband was a monster – a friendly monster – made of sand and clay. In another, I was back in high school. Only the campus looked like my college, not my high school. And the other people in the dream were not people I knew back in high school or college.

The Gemara says it’s very important to make sure that your dreams are interpreted for the good (Brachos 56a). Even if the dream is interpreted incorrectly, by accident or with malice, that interpretation has an influence on reality. (That scares me nearly as much as a nightmare itself! Imagine: You tick off your roommate, and they decide to get even by telling you your dream means you’re going to lose all your hair or your car is destined for an extended stay at the mechanic or that you will read a novel ending in a cliffhanger and the sequel won’t be due out until 2019. Not good.)

Our family has established a little ritual to make sure every dream is interpreted for the good. When anyone wakes up in the morning from a particularly vivid dream, they burst into my bedroom and describe it to my husband and me. First, I attempt to explain each symbol and bit of day residue using psychological, anthropological, and literary techniques.

And then, no matter what the dream is, my husband offers his own interpretation: You’re going to win the lottery.

There is a small complication. No one in our family actually buys lottery tickets. While I have played the lottery twice, on both occasions, friends had purchased tickets for me as birthday presents. The first time, I won five dollars!

(Note to readers: My birthday is in Iyar.)

Anyway, since my kids never offer to interpret my dreams, and I’m doubtful my husband’s wishful thinking counts as genuine dream interpretation, I think saying the appropriate prayer during birkas Kohanim is a better gamble. If my feet remain swollen a bit longer due to walking to synagogue and standing off and on during the service, so be it. Maybe those feet will reach the pedals the next time I dream that I’m driving a school bus.