Thursday, April 2, 2009

California Dreaming

The world we live is dominated by the civilization of Edom or Rome, whose primary character trait is superficiality. Edom (Red) was the nickname of our forefather Ya'akov's (Jacob) brother Aisav (Esau), who fiercely competed with, and whose descendants continue to compete with us to the present day. Edom is also an extension of Yavan, (ancient Greece), which worshipped beauty and the greatness of the human body and soul . Yet unlike Yavan, Edom's motto is the Christian verse, "Live for today for tomorrow we die."

The spirit of Edom bombards our senses, insidiously and overtly, our objectivity and sensitivities are compromised and our children are dulled and poisoned. The Divrei Bina of Biala writes that this lack of depth and hedonism, is the quintessence of Milchemes Gog and Magog--(the forces engaging in the war which precedes the coming of Mashiach) and challenges the very sovereignty of Ha-Shem. It is interesting that the Toldos Odom of Ostrove writes that the reason the Jews went to sleep on the night before the giving of the torah, was because they were convinced that a prophetic sleep would be the medium through which the Torah would be given, not understanding the subtle difference between prophesy and dreaming. The great Kabbalist, Rav Chaim Vital explains in Shaare Kedusha, that prophecy happens while in the body and dreaming occurs when we leave the body and are asleep. What that generation didn't recognize, was that their bodies had reached such a level of purity and holiness, that they WERE actually vessels fit to hear and feel G-d speak.

Dreams, the gemara in Brachos, tells us, are one sixtieth of prophecy. Dreams truly are significant and even though the gemara says elsewhere, that what we think about during the day affects what we dream at night, in my opinion, this has much to do with all the noise, and sensory overstimulation we are exposed to on a daily basis. I would suggest the following antidote, therefore, before going to sleep: First, find a quiet place, breathe deeply, unwind, and actively sort out the sensory stimulations experienced during the day, to release what we don't need. When we are out of "fight-or-flight," and more in touch with ourselves, we can then actively talk to Ha-Shem and review our day with Him. After that we are ready to say the special prayers of confession and forgiveness (the Rebono shel olam and Vidui) with the thought of letting go of any resentment toward others as well as acknowledging and resolving to correct the mistakes that we have made, and finally with the Shema and Hamapil prayers, we can accept the sovereignty and unity of Ha-Shem and hand over our neshamos (souls) to Him for safe-keeping until we awaken, G-d willing, in the morning.

One final interesting note I'd like to share before I say goodnight: Sleep has a tremendous influence on bio-chemistry and balance. The Chinese view excessive dreaming as a Shen (spirit) disturbance, closely related to heart fire. This is another form of pollution. One should therefore avoid eating fried, spicy or energetically hot foods in the evening hours, including coffee, tobacco and alcohol, to allow the Shen to remain grounded and not float, and prevent unnecessarily excessive dreams and disturbed sleep.

And from California, this early Thursday morning, wishing you all a wonderful, peaceful night.

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