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What Do Dreams Mean?

What Do Dreams Mean?

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Question:

I had a dream last night in which I saw my late father. He held my hands and mouthed some words. It was so vivid that I was sure it was real. Does this mean anything? Should I be worried?

Answer:

Dreams are a display of what our mind sees when we don’t control it. They can be caused by many different factors. How we should react to a dream will be determined by the type of dream we experienced.

Some dreams are the result of external stimuli (if you sleep with a fan blowing on your face, you may dream of flying a helicopter), or biological causes (if you go to bed thirsty, you may dream of yourself hiking through a parched desert searching for water). These dreams are not terribly significant. The message may simply be to take a drink of water, or move the fan away from your head.

Other dreams are the continuation of the thoughts of the day (a problem we ponder during the day can sometimes be solved in a dream at night), or an expression of unwanted thoughts—issues that are bothering us and we are trying not to think about pop up in our dreams (we often dream of our darkest secrets being revealed, or our deepest phobias being faced). These dreams are a window into our subconscious, a peek into the thoughts with which our mind is occupied when it is allowed to run loose. They should not be seen as portents of what lies in the future, but rather exposés of what lurks in our mind.

But then there is another type of dream, a dream that seems to border on the prophetic. Unlike the confused and nonsensical dreams we typically see, these are characterized by the vividness you describe in your dream of your father. While most dreams are better ignored, these cannot be dismissed as ramblings of the idle mind; they are too powerful, too awesome to just forget.

The Kabbalists explain that while we sleep, our souls leave our bodies and ascend to their heavenly source to replenish their energy. While a residue of the soul remains with the body to keep it alive, the main portion of the soul travels to higher places. In this disembodied state, the soul is free to experience visions and encounters that are usually off-limits to beings of this world. This includes the possibility of meeting other disembodied souls—particularly the souls of loved ones who have passed away. It is their opportunity to convey a message to those they have left behind.

It is possible that your dream comes under this last category. How you should respond to it depends on the mood of the dream. Did your father seem disturbed or troubled in any way? Did you wake up feeling uncomfortable or sad? Then perhaps he needs something from you. Was he mourned appropriately? Have memorial prayers (Kaddish and Yizkor) been said for him? Is his grave attended to, and the anniversary of his passing (yahrzeit) observed? If not, he may be coming to you, his daughter, to ask you to rectify these things, to ensure that his memory is honored and his soul given the assistance it needs to find rest.

On the other hand, his demeanor in the dream may have been one of peace and contentment. Did you wake up feeling comfort and warmth? If so, then he is just paying you a visit. He came to say hello, to express his love and support for you, and to remind you that he is there for you, proud of you, and will always be your father.

There is no cause for worry. Your father has given you either a mission, or a gift.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
Image by chassidic artist Shoshannah Brombacher. To view or purchase Ms. Brombacher’s art, click here.
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Zoe March 23, 2017

Sometimes when I dream it feels as though I'm not actually in them. Like if I was in a room with people and they were talking, I would basically be invisible. I'll either stand around, or walk around the commotion without being bothered by anything. This also happens when I have a nightmare, usually if I'm having a nightmare like this I don't even get scared are frightened I just feel nothing. Reply

Alexander 14456 February 6, 2017

I seldom recall dreams. I felt as though I was peering into space--total darkness and no sound. From the top right corner I see free falling, three-dimensional, dark gold/green colored blocks of indistinct symbols descending in one line, clustered like a school of fish. They floated downward spinning counterclockwise. Effortlessly. Slowly. Some symbols were viewed on a one dimensional plane rotating counterclockwise, while others spun on a z-axis. Never did the symbols spin clockwise or away from me (the viewer?), and all flowed
From top right corner down to the bottom middle field of view. Reply

Anonymous Somalila January 31, 2017

I want to mangemant and to help poor people Reply

Anonymous Davao November 4, 2016

I had also a dream. In my dream I saw a cemetery in the middle of the sea I saw lots of souls coming out from the grave and all of them flying up into the heaven. And then I see myself arranging the graves. What does it mean? Reply

Anonymous August 4, 2016

Last night I had a dream of an extremely big snake that I think was a cobra...I don't remember it doing anything harmful to me....all I remember about it is it falling out of a truck....fast forward a bit to a candle that will not extinguish no matter what I do...almost like a magic candle at a birthday party....I remember me dunking it in water and it going out for a while and then coming back Reply

Hardly a Beinoni Hollywood, Florida March 14, 2016

Records of dreams have been recorded as far back as Biblical times. To name a few: Genesis,28:12ff; 37:5ff; 40:5ff; 41:1ff; Daniel, 2:1ff; 4:1ff; 7:1ff. However, in Jewish tradition, their significance & interpretation, differs drastically from those of Freud & secular psychologists & psychiatrists. Our Sages, (Tractate Berachos, 55b), referring to Genesis, 41:13, point out that "...as Joseph interpreted, so it came to pass.."; namely, the outcome of the interpretation, 'followed the mouth'! This is a very significant lesson. For, if one has a dream which troubles him or her, & seeks an interpretation thereof, it should be related only to a GOOD friend. Namely, one who has the dreamer's interest at heart. For the latter will surely interpret it within the context of the dream, & consequently, favorably; R' Yehuda Hachasid (1150 - 1217), in "Sefer Chassidim" ('Book of the Pious'; paragraph 441). Reply

Ewan September 10, 2015

Please help me - I am have a terrifying dream of being stuck in a mental institution and I am trapped - what does this mean ? Reply

Anonymous toronto August 4, 2015

Dreams do not count as reality. One can have dreams through out life, but dreams are dreams and one should be a judge of reality . It is a mix of hallucinations , illusions and imaginations . Reality can awaken a person. Dreams can portend the future in some cases and judge past events . Reply

Dawn Copley Los Angeles July 23, 2015

Since I was a little girl and to this day all of my most vivid dreams would always come true 100% of the time. Very uncanny. When I awake I remember them and ponder.I always know which ones were messages or prophetic. The prophetic dreams always manifest within 24 hours after I awake. Throughout my entire life they have all been 100% accurate. One time recently I had a vivid dream that I was going to somehow accidently see the person in the dream. I was so positive that I dressed nicely because I was convinced it would come to fruition. I did nothing to influence it. It didn't matter where I was but I anxiously awaited for the dream to materialize. I was having lunch with a friend and excused myself for a minute and go do some quick business at the bank and suddenly out of nowhere as I was walking to the bank he was walking through the bank parking lot. We exchanged words, but I didn't tell him about my dream and I was anticipating our crossing paths. I don't always get them Reply

Gordon USA July 14, 2015

In my dream I was looking into the future, in Israel. There were several small farms close to each other, growing different types of foods. Unlike the presentday kibbutzim, there was no mechanical equiptment see, and everything was growing profusely, requiring very little labor. The people were all healthy looking and were free of sickness as they traded among each other. The fruit growers would trade for bread from the baking farm who would trade for veggies, fruit, and so on. Every so often the people would turn their eyes toward Jerusalem and smile, knowing their protector was there. Reply

Gordon July 9, 2015

In my dream I saw the earth from outer space and it was covered iin dark clouds, as if there had been a world war.I looked everywhere for some light but could not find any. suddenly I saw a faint glow and as I watched it got bigger and bigger until the clouds went away and I saw Israel. The light was now very bright and I saw a man standing in the bright opening and seemed to say to himself "I have a lot of work to do" end of dream. what does this mean? Gordon Reply

gideon usa April 8, 2015

In my dream I was sitting on a park bench in Netanya overlooking the Med. sea.It was a beautiful sunny clear day. Suddenly from the west came a dark cloud. It grew stronger and blacker by the minute coming toward Israel. The sky was black, and getting blacker. I was very scared. What does this dream mean? Will the west turn against Israel? Reply

Nathan April 5, 2015

My dad was in my dream and he was telling me how proud of me he is and I have never had a dream about him since he passed. My Fiance and I are makuing a move to another state. What does this dream mean? Does it pertain to our move? Reply

Barbara Ellison WISTER March 1, 2015

Glad to see this.. Thank you. Reply

Veronica Albuquerque, NM February 26, 2015

I had the weirdest dream, I am 24 and am going to school online but I had a dream I was going to school in my old neighborhood and my grandma was there. I walked in the door after school and my grandma said hello and then she told me some girl called and wanted to buy my tv for $1,000. I am not trying to sell my tv, so I laughed and said no no no my tv is not for sale?????? Reply

Cathy massachusetts February 25, 2015

I had a dream on the anniversary date of my grand daughters father who passed away 5 years ago, he thanked me for taking good care of her, it was probably the only nice words he ever spoke to me, what does this mean? Reply

kayla February 9, 2015

What happens if you think your dream means something how do we interpret it ourselves? Reply

lori flagstaff February 9, 2015

I dreamed of my late grandma. She was crying and asking me to take her home from a nursing home. She was never in a nursing home. And she told me to take care of my family. I'm going through some challenges in life. Reply

Anonymous sa.tx February 7, 2015

Last night I dreamed about my deceased father and my brother handed him a knife. And that he took the knife and put it to his chest over his heart and started to push the knife in his chest Reply

Anonymous Que. Canada December 28, 2014

I was chatting with my 3 cousins in my dream and about to leave when my deceased aunt who lived next door to my parents comes in, tells me that I better go see my mom, I enter the house, my deceased dad is downstairs working with his tools as he usually did and my deceased mom was in the living room,( Room where she spent most of her time in ) I could hear her cry, and I said : Ok, I'm here now. I never saw their faces. ( I woke up in tears and was upset the whole day and still am, this was 2 days ago. Reply