How to hear what your nighttime thoughts are telling you.
Special to The Jewish News
ost of his time was
occupied with thoughts
of war and peace. But
even Abraham Lincoln
needed a rest now and then. The pres-
ident enjoyed the theater and travel
and hoped one day to visit Jerusalem.
In his free moments, Lincoln also
liked to discuss dreams — his own
(such as one in which someone said
"the president" had been "killed by an
assassin") and those in the Bible.
He said to his wife, and to Ward
Hill Lamon, marshal of the District of
Columbia: "It is strange how much
there is in the Bible about dreams."
In the modern world, he said,
"dreams are regarded as very foolish,
and are seldom told, except by old
women and young men and maidens
But, he added, "If we believe in the
Bible, we must accept the fact that in
the old days God and His angels came
to men in their sleep and made them-
selves known in dreams."
From the biblical Joseph, who rose
to fame thanks to his interpretation of
Pharaoh's dream, to the 12th-century
scholar Maimonides, who considered
the function of dreams in his classic
text Guide for the Perplexed, to perhaps
the greatest and most controversial
contemporary scholar of dreams,
Sigmund Freud, our thoughts during
sleep have intrigued, compelled and
mystified from the beginning of time.
Dreams And Kabbalah
In Divining Your Dreams, just pub-
lished by Fireside Books ($16), author
Jonathan Sharp offers a look at using
Kabbalah to understand one's dreams.
The book includes "more than 850
powerful dream images," with inter-
pretations covering everything from an
oak tree to infection to orchestras, sail-
ing and skating.
The Kabbalah is, of course, the clas-
sic Jewish mystical text. These days
seemingly every celebrity from
Roseanne Barr (now touting her new
hot sauce) to Madonna (this may
explain the use of Hebrew and tefillin
in her video "Die Another Day") to
supermodel Naomi Campbell (perhaps
it can offer some guidance on how to
control her infamous temper) is taking
classes "steeped in the mystical Jewish
tradition of Kabbalah."
In fact, kabbalistic texts are on the
periphery of Jewish life for many Jews.
The average Jewish man or woman is
advised not to go there, so to speak,
until he is of the proper age and well-
. versed in every aspect of Halachah
practical advice on how to interpret
your own dreams (more on this later).
The book's author, Jonathan Sharp,
of England, co-wrote The Hidden
Power of Everyday Things. He writes
that his background is "in the Western
Mystery Tradition, an approach to
spirituality that dates back at least as
far as the Middle Ages in Europe. The
underlying aim is to try to gain an
understanding of the Divine nature of
Creation and to fully realize one's spir-
In presenting his dream analyses, he
considers both the dream content and
its gematric analysis
— that is, the letter
aligns Hebrew letters
and numerals) of the
Further, he includes
aspects of Tarot —
which means there is
quite a lot to read
even on such a mun-
dane topic as an esca-
"As you might
expect, this dream is
designed to encourage
you in your spiritual
work," the author
says. If you dream of
an escalator, "... you
are about to complete
a major cycle in your
"If we look at the
image of an escalator,
it is likely that this
major cycle involves
"Divining Your your moving up from
Dreams" offers one phase of con-
help from sciousness to another."
Still, with such an influential and
erudite scholar as Madonna checking
it out, chances are many Jews will be
interested in Kabbalah, too — and
especially when it comes to some-
thing as juicy as interpreting dreams.
Divining Your,Dreams begins with
an introduction by Dr. Edward
Hoffman, a New York psychologist
and author of a number of other
books on Jewish mysticism, including
The Way of Splendour.
In his introduction, Hoffman offers
a brief history of mysticism and some
more than 850 Self-Analysis
dream images. Perhaps escalators
have not occupied
your dreams as of late,
but there is no person who does not
dream, and dream often. If you would
like to try listening to your own, here
is Divining Your Dreams's advice on
how to get started.
1. First (according to Dr. Hoffman
keep a journal and pen by your bed.
The moment you wake up from a
dream, write it down.
2. Remember as many dream details
as possible. Look for those details that
repeat themselves, because even the
most trivial of objects or thoughts can
bear significance, especially when it
appears numerous times.
3. Write your dream in present tense
(i.e., "I am running down the hill"
and not "I ran down the hill") and
record your feelings.
4. Make a list of symbols and then
judge them on an "emotionality scale"
of 1 to 5, with 1 being "minimal emo-
tion" and 5 being "intense emotion."
5. Begin your journey with the most
"intense emotion" items as you research
their interpretation in the book.
6. Reflect on what you have read
and look for the message your dream
has for you.
Most of Sharp's interpretations reflect
on an individual's relationship with
the "Divine," and it's not clear
whether Sharp actually sees this as
God. To make it even more confusing,
the "Divine" is further referred to as
"it," rather than "He" or even "She,"
so apparently the "Divine" can be
whatever higher power you choose.
There's a great deal of talk about
spiritual growth and the like here, but
don't look to this book for familiar
Freudian symbolism or for simplicity,
for that matter. Instead, you may need
to read the passages several times
before Sharp's point becomes clear.
Here are a few abbreviated interpre-
tations in the book of ideas or items
that may have entered your dreams:
Cradle: "At times we all wish that we
were back in our mother's arms,
unaware of all the trials and tribula-
tions of adulthood. ... Rather than sig-
.nifying someone who wishes to give
up all the responsibility, this dream
points to an individual who is willing
DREAMING on page