It is 2 AM. I am going to sleep.
I have been going to sleep since 12.

So much to think about. So much to worry about.
Housework and schoolwork and children.
This is my reality.

I use various tools to help me relax. Help me forget.
I pull my knit cap over my eyes and securely wrap myself in my blanket.
The fan is humming, my watch is near my ear…

I am a fetus in a womb. Snug. Secure.
The sound of my mother's heartbeat and the whirring of the fluids surround me.

I drift off.
My brain is still active, but my limbs are without sensation.
My dreaming begins.

Slowly strange images intrude- of people and things. Babies start talking. I start flying.
It is a topsy-turvy world where almost anything is possible.

What is sleep? What are dreams?
How is sleepfulness different than wakefulness?

Humans are made of limbs and organs.
Skin, blood, bone, muscle.
We are animated by our soul, which is made up of Ten Faculties, or energies.
In their source, in the essential soul, they are one- undifferentiated.

Like white light before it passes through a prism.

The kochot, faculties, are like stem cells-that can become anything.
The soul powers then become individualized, differentiated and find expression in our various body parts.
When we are awake, there is order. There is a hierarchy.

Not so when we sleep.
The powers conceal themselves. They go back to their source where there is no hierarchy.

Like the fetus- whose head is between his knees
and who eats through his belly button.
The head is not perceived as being higher than the rest of the body

During sleep we enter a topsy-turvy dream world.

Where ships can fly (Maimonides), babies can talk…
And if you were contemplating this while you were awake-
there are golden palm trees and elephants can go through needle heads1

During the days when the Holy Temple was in Jerusalem, the hierarchy of G‑d's supernal faculties was obvious in our world.

Good and evil were apparent.

But G‑d reflects us and our behavior.
When we "slept" and forgot His torah, G‑d too in a sense slept.
Hence the confusion of galut, exile.

When the hierarchy is not apparent and good and evil can exist side by side.
When Israel's enemies entered the Holy of Holies of the Temple, after having destroyed Jerusalem, the keruvim (cherubs) were facing one another…

…symbolizing G‑d's love for His people- like a husband's love for his wife.

During exile G‑d is concealed from us. He is the husband on a journey at sea.
But before He "leaves," He plants the seeds of love, life and growth. For the future.

During pregnancy, the embryo is concealed within its mother's womb.
In the very beginning it is invisible. Its own mother may be unaware of its existence. Yet the fetus is growing, forming limbs and organs, until it enters the world and breathes for the first time.

The miracle of birth is really the culmination of nine months of pregnancy and labor, when the mother must sacrifice a lot- her comfort, her energy, her appetite.
The pregnancy is galut, exile, and the birth is geulah, redemption. G‑d planted the seeds for redemption at the moment before He sent us into exile. During exile something beautiful and miraculous is growing. Geulah is the culmination of our many years of hardship and sacrifice for G‑d's Torah.

Like the newborn, we are ready to finally take our first breaths- of the air of redemption.

This work is inspired by the teachings of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory. It is based on the talk from Purim, 5744 that begins with "On that night the king's sleep wandered."

Click here for Part Two of this Art Journal: On the Night the King's Sleep Wandered.