Do you interpret dreams? As a kid, I was told that dreaming about losing your teeth is a bad sign. I have had such dreams a few times, and when I wake up, I feel worried. Is it true, and do we have to take dreams seriously?


It is true that dreams have meanings, but interestingly, those meanings are fluid. Let me explain . . .

The Talmud relates that the sage Rava once dreamed that his teeth were falling out. He went to Bar Hedya, a professional dream interpreter, to find out its meaning. The interpreter told him that his sons and daughters would die (and he would lose his appetite in his sorrow, and therefore not use his teeth).

The interesting thing is that this anecdote is presented in the context of a longer saga in which Rava and his colleague Abaye would consistently dream similar dreams and go to Bar Hedya for interpretations. Bar Hedya gave Abaye favorable interpretations each time, while Rava consistently received gloomy predictions.

Why the discrepancy? The rabbi who received the positive interpretation was paying Bar Hedya, while the other was not. The weird thing was, the interpretations came true.

The way you interpret a dream can actually have an effect on its realization. The dream itself could go either way: If you say it's bad, it will be. If you label it as a good dream, then that's what will come about.

In fact, the great mystic Rabbi Yoel Baal Shem taught that teeth falling out can be seen as a wonderful dream: Teeth are what we use to grind our food, so we can digest it. They represent the daily grind, the toil and effort we spend on making a living. Teeth falling out in your dream means that you will escape the grind, your income will come easily to you, you will not need to grind hard to eat.

So ultimately, even a dream with a negative connotation can be positive if you interpret it as such.

Talmud Berachot 56a, Shulchan Hatahor Komarna