A Second Soul
Jewish tradition teaches that as the Sabbath enters on Friday nights, we gain a neshamah yeteirah – an extra soul or a second soul that enters our bodies. It is like the added soul we get on vacations when we are able to stop and more fully appreciate the blessings of our lives.
Shabbat gives us that same opportunity. Our Sabbath soul helps us to appreciate all that we have. This added soul helps us to see more clearly: to see not only the present but to envision the future and to dream of all the possibilities that tomorrow holds.
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The Power of our Dreams
We all are dreamers. Dreams have great power. At night, we dream in our sleep as our minds and bodies renew. During the daytime, we daydream. In our minds, we envision the possibilities, both fanciful and real, of what the future could bring.
In this week’s Torah portion, called Vayeishev, Joseph, the favored son of Jacob, is a dreamer like us. He has dreams of the future – of achieving greatness far beyond his brothers. In the beginning of the story, Joseph’s dreams get him into trouble and cause his brothers to disdain him. In the end of the story, Joseph’s ability to interpret the dreams of others and to fulfill his own dreams, enable him and his family to survive.
We all have dreams, though many of us in the morning do not remember the content of our nightly visions. Even fewer of us are capable of interpreting them.
The Jewish tradition teaches that our dreams have value. The Rabbis teach that a dream that is not interpreted is like a letter that is unread. We are meant to find meaning in all aspects of our lives: both conscious and subconscious.
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Listening to Dreams and Listening to the Divine
The Jewish tradition teaches that God speaks to us through dreams. “Dreams are 1/60 of prophecy,” the Talmud teaches. We learn about our relationship with God as we stop to listen to our inner selves and our dreams. Torah yoga is about hearing the divine voice that dwells within each of us.
In the Book of Kings, Eliah had an experience and noted that God was in the wind, or in the earthquake or in the fire, but instead God was found and experienced in the “still, small voice.” Yoga helps us to hear God in the still, small voice.
We all have dreams – for our lives, for achieving peace, for finding quiet, for reaching to high places beyond where we naturally go. As we stretch and reach for high places, above and beyond our normal range, we need to remember to regularly return to our center in order to listen to that voice that directs us. We need to regularly remember the dream that inspired us.
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Reaching and Falling and Fulfilling our Dreams
The Biblical Joseph is thrown into many pits and prisons throughout his life, yet even so, he continues to dream. As we follow our dreams, as we take risks, as we head in new directions, we will inevitably face obstacles.
When we take risks in yoga, we face obstacles, too. We reach and we fall and we try again, gaining strength with each effort.
That is our task in life — to reach, to take risks, to not let our falling and failing prevent us from moving forward.
May we dream and may we set goals – for our bodies, for our souls, for our lives, for our world. In facing the distractions of our days, may we not lose sight of our dreams and our visions for where we want to go. May each of us, like the Biblical Joseph, be a baal hachalomot – a master of dreams.[Photo by Dyaa Eldin]