Rav Kook Torah

Balak: Sweet Dreams

Have you ever dreamt a disturbing dream, but cannot remember it? The Talmud recommends reciting the following prayer while the kohanim bless the people:

“Master of the World! My dreams and I belong to You. If the dreams are good — bolster them like the dreams of Joseph. And if they need to be remedied — fix them like the bitter waters that Moses sweetened. Just as You transformed wicked Balaam’s curses into blessings, so too, make all of my dreams be for the best.” (Berachot 55b)

Transforming Bad Dreams

There are two ways in which evil tidings may be transformed into good ones. In the first way, the means remain disturbing, but the final outcome is good. One example of this is the sale of Joseph into slavery and his subsequent imprisonment in Egypt. All of the various causes were adverse, incurring much hardship for Joseph. But the ultimate result — Joseph’s rise to greatness, and his ability to provide sustenance during the years of famine — was certainly for the best.

However, it is even more impressive when the causes are also transformed into positive ones, so that the end is achieved through propitious means. An example of this type of transformation occurred with Balaam. God could have let Balaam curse the people of Israel, and only later changed his curses to blessings. But instead, God “placed a hook in Balaam’s mouth” — as the Midrash describes God’s complete control over Balaam’s powers of speech — so that only blessings came forth. Thus even the means — Balaam’s prophecies — were favorable.

We pray that our dreams should be completely transformed for the good. Like Balaam’s ‘curses,’ we want both the ends and the means to be auspicious and beneficial.

(Sapphire from the Land of Israel. Adapted from Ein Eyah vol. II, p. 274)

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