Through this week Torah portion Vayetzei, I am going to show what we can learn about being cocreators from our sleeping dreams and how to direct our imagination, to improve to to a relative extent Israel.
In this week’s Torah portion, several lines are dedicated to illustrating that Jacob imagined a form of genetic engineering. The practice is more akin to meditation, which can indeed alter genes, a concept only recently acknowledged in Western culture through science. What’s intriguing is that Jacob independently devised this form of segulah (we cannot call it science since the method had not been experimented on) based on a dream where God spoke to him. This marks the second instance of God communicating through dreams, with Kislev being dubbed the month of dreaming in recognition of these divine interactions. This month serves as a reminder for us to embrace our dreams and imagination.
Why did Gd communicate to Jacob in dreams? Perhaps it is to rectify imagination. When Jacob initially dreamed of Gd, he was in a state of his life where he had a lot of fear. If he just witnessed Gd, fear and inaccurate imagination would have gripped him. To avert further fear, Gd employed hypnosis, utilizing ladder techniques effective in calming and altering states. Jacob needed to envision, experience awe, and also be told of holiness in the simple ground he was on, thus showing him the power of imagination. In fact, Jacob takes it upon himself to pour oil on the rock as a way to decide what the dream was going to mean, and that the place would become of worship. This experience certainly inspired him in creating his own meditation for the sheep to change genes.
Even for someone less holy, like Laban, Gd chose to communicate through a dream, indicating a need for Laban to rectify his imagination. As a sorcerer manipulating natures spiritual forces (which is a very bad practice), Laban’s shift to working with Gd instead would bring particular pleasure to Gd. This intervention may have been prompted by Laban’s career level and the diminished influence that Jacob would now have in his life, since Jacob was going away. Leban had idols in his imagination before his encounter with Gd. Since Gd told him to not act negatively or positively with Jacob when he left (in Judaism we are told to assume the best of people) we can assume that as he said, he was now chasing Jacob to indeed properly say his goodbyes to his family and rid of the idols that were stolen from him.
Imagination played a role for Isaac and Rebecca, aiding Rebecca’s pregnancy, as midrash suggests they prayed face to face. It remains unclear why Jacob didn’t replicate this with Rachel, possibly due to his displeasure with her from her complaints or simply lack of imagination. Also, we cannot properly pray when we are in a state of complaining. Unfortunately, Jacobs’ life was not ideal, and perhaps because he didn’t employ more imagination with the help of Gd into his life.
Around 90 to 95 percent of the mind is subconscious, and numerous studies highlight the healing potential of meditation. Meditation reduces cortisol levels, the stress hormone causing disease. Instead, it fosters harmony in our body and with our surroundings. It directs change in the body by connecting different mind hemispheres. Epigenetics emphasizes that our genetic code doesn’t solely define us, but that we can change our life based on what we imagine of it and truly believe it can be like. Meditation is a form of prayer that allows us to quiet the mind and reconnect with all parts of ourselves. It is wonderful, and Gd’s logic seems to do things so that we can discover how magnificent his ways and creations can be.
What we imagine “can be” more powerful than what we actually see with our eyes, and so we need to use this to our benefit when we think of the war in Israel. One way to know if we are properly using our imagination during the day is to ask ourselves how are our sleeping dreams like? Because what we think during the day obviously influences what we think at night. Of course, sometimes we can also have bad dreams just out of stress, instead of incorrect imagination. So-called “bad dreams” don’t necessarily always have to be bad, it is what we imagine that they mean that matters and that can be so powerful. There is a reason why in Judaism we say to only have dream interpretation from whom wants good for us, because it is the interpretation that matters. Dream interpretation is not a science, and thank goodness, because it gives us the pleasure of interpreting it to our benefit with our ability to have vision.
Whatever you dream about asleep, you can have the final saying of what some part of it or all of it means to you. God presented Jacob with a dream of the land without specifying its specific purpose. Jacob, empowered as a cocreator, determined the land use and poured oil on a rock to seal the dream’s meaning. Similarly, he crafted sheep according to his idea, now co-creating a bit further the before. With his sheep, he used the method of meditation. Today we know that different methods of meditation, have transformative effects in our life and allow us to have better dreams because for one thing, they decrease stress. When observing images of Israeli soldiers or Ukrainian soldiers, envision them safely returning home to their families, when faced with pictures of the Middle East, visualize news heralding newfound peace. Be inspired by whatever opens your heart the most, because that pure, harmonious love is the strongest emotion for connecting with Gd.
May everyone who reads this article have pleasant dreams and always find the right interpretation of their dream or part of their dream for them !
When thinking of Israel and the world in general, remember this From the Kuzari an important work of Jewish philosophy, that a pious person is someone who directs their imagination.