I had 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?
Dreams are 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 saw.
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. Other dreams have 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 you ponder during the day can sometimes be solved in dreams at night. Often they are an expression of unwanted thoughts - whatever we try not to think about is exactly what pops up in our dreams. That's why we often dream of our darkest secrets being revealed, or deepest phobias being faced. These dreams are a window into our subconscious, a peek into the thoughts our mind is occupied with when we let it 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 characterised by the vividness you describe in your dream of your father. While most dreams are better ignored, these ones can be hard to dismiss as ramblings of the idle mind. They are too powerful, too awesome to just forget.
The Kabbalists explain that while we sleep, our soul leaves the body and ascends to its heavenly source to replenish its 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, like the souls of loved ones who have passed away. It is their opportunity to convey a message to those whom 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 like Kaddish and Yizkor been said for him? Is his grave attended to, and anniversary of his passing (Yohrzeit) observed? If not, he may be coming to you, his daughter, to ask you to rectify these things, to ensure that his memory is honoured and his soul given the assistance it needs to find rest.
On the other hand, his demeanour 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, express his love for you, and remind you that he is there for you, proud of you, and will always be your father.
There is no cause for worry. You father has given you either a mission, or a gift.
On Friday evening, the Menorah should be lit before Shabbos candles are lit, no earlier than 6:40pm and no later than 7:51pm, ensuring that there is enough oil or wax to last until half an hour after nightfall which is 8:39pm.
This Saturday night, the Menorah must be lit after Shabbos has ended, no earlier than 8:53pm.
I notice that lighting candles is a big part of Judaism. We light candles every Friday for Shabbos, we light candles on every festival, and Chanukah is all about candles. What is the connection between candles and spirituality?
There is something about a flame that makes it more spiritual than physical. When you use something physical, it is diminished. The more money you spend, the less you have. The more petrol you use, the emptier your tank becomes. The more food you eat the more you need to restock your pantry.
But spiritual things increase with use. If I use my wisdom to teach, the student learns, and I come out smarter for it. If I share my love with another, I become more loving, not less. When I give a spiritual gift, the recipient gains, and I lose nothing. There is no better illustration of this than a candle. When you use one candle to light another, the original candle remains bright. Its light is not diminished by being shared, on the contrary, the two candles together enhance each others brightness and increase light. We sometimes worry that we may stretch ourselves too thin. In matters of spirit, it isn't true. The more goodness we spread the more goodness we have. By making a new friend you become a better friend to your old friends. By having another child you open a new corridor of love in your heart that your other children benefit from too. By teaching more students you become wiser. And by spending time on meaningful pursuits, you realise how precious each day is, and use your time better. Keep lighting your candles. There is a fire in your soul. You will never run out of light. Good Shabbos and Happy Chanukah, Rabbi Moss
The festival of Chanukah lasts eight days. The Menorah is lit every night of Chanukah, beginning this Saturday night, December 24th until Saturday December 31st.
This Saturday night, the Menorah must be lit after Shabbos has ended, no earlier than 8:51pm. Next Saturday night, the last night of Chanukah, it should be lit after 8:53pm.
From Sunday to Thursday, the earliest time to light is 6:40pm, but preferably should be lit after sundown (8:08pm). The candles should be either oil or wax, and should remain lit for at least half an hour after nightfall (nightfall is 8:39pm).
On Friday evening, the Menorah should be lit before Shabbos candles are lit, no earlier than 6:40pm and no later than 7:51pm, again ensuring that there is enough oil or wax to last until half an hour after nightfall (8:39pm).
On the first night one candle is set at the right of the Menorah and kindled. Each night another candle is added.
The newest light, which is the one furthest to the left, is always kindled first.
Use a "Shamash" (service candle) to kindle the lights, and then place it in its special place on the Menorah.
It is a mitzvah to light the Menorah in the home where you sleep. It is not sufficient to be present at a public menorah lighting, or at a friend's house.
All members of the family should be present at the kindling of the Chanukah lights. Those who live alone should also kindle Menorahs in their home.
The Chanukah lights are lit either in the front window or by a doorway opposite the Mezuzah.
I have a question which I was hoping you may be able to help my husband and I with. This morning my daughter asked me the following:
"Mommy, how does G-d make the world work?"
I was unable to answer. I was hoping you could provide me with a way to answer the question in words that an almost 4 year old will understand!
What a sweet question. I hope you are proud that your nearly 4 year old ponders such issues.
Maybe try asking her this:
How does your body work? As you sit there, you are breathing and blinking and digesting food. How do you do all that? Your hair grows, your fingernails grow, you get taller all the time. Even in your sleep. How do you do it?
The answer: you just live, and by being alive your body grows and develops. You have a soul, a neshoma, that gives your body life. Just by having a neshoma, you are alive, your body works. You don't need to do anything.
So too G-d is the life behind the universe. It is like the world is a big body, and G-d is the soul behind it. Just by Him being, He enlivens everything.
But there is one thing you do need to do to stay alive. You need to eat well to keep your neshoma in our body. If you don't eat you get weak as the neshoma starts to leave. When you eat you get strong again.
So too we have to do something to keep G-d in the world. That is mitzvos. Every mitzvah we do brings G-d into the world, brings the soul into the body. So when you say the Shema prayer, or give tzedaka (charity), or light Shabbos candles or listen to your parents you are giving G-d strength!
It is a deep concept, but try it, you may be surprised how easily a child can grasp spiritual ideas. She may have a little body, but she has a huge soul.
A moment of confusion that made sense only decades later
Do you believe in coincidences? Do you think the world is run by random forces, without any meaning or purpose? Then please read this.
Exactly 28 years ago, in the Hebrew month of Kislev, of the year 5749 (1988), R' Aron Amzalak of Sydney Australia was in New York. He had come for the engagement of his daughter Miriam to a young man from Venezuela, Moshe Moskowitz.
On the day they got engaged, Thursday 22 November, Amzalak went to inform the Rebbe of the good news. Thousands of people of all walks of life would line up to see the Rebbe, receive a blessing and a dollar to distribute to charity. In the brief moment that each person had with the Rebbe they could ask a quick question or make a short request, and the Rebbe would respond, as the line of people moved forward and the next person would have their turn.
As Amzalak comes before the Rebbe he tells him with a beaming smile, "My daughter became a Kallah (a bride) today." The Rebbe gives him a dollar and blesses him that the wedding should take place at an auspicious time.
R' Aron Amzalak telling the Rebbe his good news
Amzalak continues walking and the next person in line, R' Mendel Itkin of Los Angeles, comes before the Rebbe. But the Rebbe calls Amzalak to come back to him. He is holding another dollar that he wishes to give Amzalak in honour of his daughter's engagement. But Amzalak does not hear this, and so there is a moment of confusion: the Rebbe is standing with dollar in hand, the line has stopped, Mendel Itkin is waiting in limbo, watching the Rebbe and trying to call Amzalak back.
R' Mendel Itkin takes the "wrong" dollar
In the commotion, the dollar that was going to be for Amzalak is given to Itkin instead. A moment later Amzalak returns to the Rebbe, who gives him another dollar, saying "This is for the bride." Then the Rebbe takes another dollar and says to Amzalak, "For the groom." But before giving the dollar to Amzalak, the Rebbe takes yet another dollar and gives both to Amzalak, asking him, "Kest?" a Yiddish word that means "dowry," financial support that a father-in-law provides his son-in-law.
Amzalak smiles and receives these additional two dollars, then moves on. At this point the Rebbe seems to laugh and say, "He doesn't know what kest means!"
Amzalak receives two more dollars
What is going on here? The Rebbe gave Amzalak four dollars, one for himself, one for his daughter, and two for his son-in-law. And a fifth dollar that the Rebbe had intended to give to Amzalak instead went to some guy from Los Angeles.
This mysterious exchange makes sense when we fast-forward 13 years. In 2001 that guy from Los Angeles, Mendel Itkin, married Amzalak's other daughter Aviva.
So the dollar that was meant for Amzalak's daughter went to his other daughter's future husband, who out of the thousands of people there that day just happened to be next in line. And the extra dollar "for the groom" was because another groom was being arranged for the Amzalak family that day.
And the Rebbe can't help laughing, because indeed, at the time nobody knew what this all meant.
But there's more. This is all captured on video (see full video below). But the characters in the story knew nothing about it until two weeks ago. In yet another one of those so-called accidents, someone stumbled upon the video on Youtube, recognized Amzalak and sent it to him. The family was amazed to see that future father-in-law and son-in-law had stood next to each other without knowing it, and the Rebbe had made the match so many years in advance.
And the timing of this discovery couldn't have been better. Because Mendel Itkin is right now battling for his life with a terrible illness. He needs our urgent prayers. Just when he needs it the most, he received that dollar and blessing from the Rebbe all over again. And we have all received a reminder that there are no accidents.
Please pray for the speedy recovery of Menachem Mendel ben Sima Chasya