Dreaming in Hebrew



Painting of "One Second Before Awakening From A Dream Caused By A Bee Around A Pomagranate", 1944 (Salvadore Dali)


I’ve fallen in love with Hebrew all over again. So much so, I am now starting to dream in it. In my dreams I’m putting together letters, making words and teaching myself the ancient tongue.


But along with shuteye, within the chimerical illusion come phantasms and nightmares.

What drives this?

As it turns out, I have been determined to improve my Hebrew and I began an ulpan over the summer. The morah is wonderful. To buttress my studies, I also subscribe to an online Hebrew course and during my free time I love to absorb lessons via the Internet.

On social media too, I have hundreds of “friends” and “likes” many of them news outlets that post in Hebrew. It has become a vital source of keeping up with all of the recent events occurring in and around Israel. Inherent it that, comes an amalgamation of sights and sounds - a conflation of images half real and half not that my subconscious is barely able to parse.

On top of being a diehard news junkie, I am also an insomniac. I wake up every night in need of my news fix and get injected with posts from every corner of the political spectrum. Where does the news end and the propaganda begin?

Streaming, coursing through my brain, I am bombarded with dire warnings of impending Middle East apocalypse. Like a dybbuk, once I finally retire back to bed in the early morning hours, it then infiltrates my dreams.

Then, like a Dali painting they manifest. Here’s what one of them looked like.

I am standing in a yard and looking up into the sky where I see what looks like an exploded star floating across the evening sky. It looks like a hole was cut into the heavens. Like a jellyfish floating. Something’s wrong. A piece of it then lands on the ground like a gift. Hava Nagila is playing the in background and the gift turns into a baby’s bassinet with a toy in it. The toy explodes. A mushroom cloud and we all go onto a conveyor belt into another dimension and into some kind of a horrible fortress. I see my son, as a young baby. Yet all his friends are older and grown up. I am holding my son and telling him I love him. He’s even younger now. I awake.

Such a confounding dream. What does it mean?

Michael Chabon recently wrote about dreams for the New York Review of Books,

“I hate dreams. Dreams are the Sea Monkeys of consciousness: in the back pages of sleep they promise us teeming submarine palaces but leave us, on waking, with a hermetic residue of freeze-dried dust. The wisdom of dreams is a fortune on paper that you can’t cash out, an oasis of shimmering water that turns, when you wake up, to a mouthful of sand. I hate them for their absurdities and deferrals, their endlessly broken promise to amount to something, by and by. I hate them for the way they ransack memory, jumbling treasure and trash. I hate them for their tedium, how they drag on, peter out, wander off.”

Indeed, trying to figure them out can be like trying to find a comic strip image lifted with Silly Putty from the newspaper after it’s been mushed back into the glob of goo.

Ironic that reading news via the Internet, getting lost in its swirl, with its gazillion bits of data, operates in a parallel manner.

In, “The History of Last Night’s Dream”, Rodger Kamenetz, who for four years recorded more than eight hundred pages of dreams, says, “Before I could fully enter the realm of dreams, it seems, I had to unlearn the habit of interpretation.” He writes of the biblical Jacob, the dreamer, who upon waking from his dream says, “…How awesome is this place! This is no other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (Gen. 28:16-17).

That gate of heaven, according to Kamenetz, is not the site, but the dream. The dream is the gate of heaven. “That is: through dreams, if we learn to use them, we can pass from one world of consciousness to another.”

My guess is that the gate is somewhere between Chabon and Kamenetz. By dreaming in Hebew, am I closer to unlocking it?

Just as technology has a way of masking reality, mimicking it and infusing it into our brains (for those who remember the old commercial, “Is it live or is it Memorex?) so too, dreams can appear like a vision, a hallucination. They are, as the kabbalists say, a nightly journey of the soul.



Abe Novick is a writer and communications consultant and can be reached at AbeBuzz.com.