The purpose of this article is to describe a recurring dream I experienced while serving as a combat soldier in both Sayeret Golani (Special Forces) and Shirion (Armored Division) of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). This article also provides my own interpretation of this Jewish dream and its practical application in my Jewish life.
While serving on guard duty in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), I had a recurring dream over a period of about one year. In the dream, the entire Jewish community had vanished. There were no Jewish people in the world. As I traveled the world, I found empty synagogues, empty Jewish schools, empty Jewish homes, and empty Jewish organizations.
As I walked into the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem, which was empty of people, there were “Mezzuzot” on the doors, there were “Sefer Torahs” (Torah scrolls), there were “Siddurim” (prayer books), and there were “Tefillin” (Phylacteries). There were myriad items of Judaica; however, there were no Jewish people.
Initially, I was frightened by my recurring dream. “Why are there no Jewish people in the world?” I asked myself. “Where are all the Jewish people?” I questioned. “Had the God of Israel taken away all the Jewish people?” I questioned. “What is the meaning of this strange and peculiar dream?” I queried.
As the dream unfolded, I walked into the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) which was completely empty. I stood up at the microphone in the Knesset and delivered a powerful, faith-based speech to the empty room. In my speech, I spoke of the importance of Judaism; the centrality of Yiddishkeit (Jewishness); the power of God the Creator; the eternal structure of Jewish law. I delivered this impassioned address to an empty room.
I then visited Aish HaTorah yeshiva (Jerusalem), Mercaz HaRav yeshiva (Jerusalem), Slobodka yeshiva (B’nai Brak), Ner Israel yeshiva (Baltimore), and Ponevezh yeshiva (B’nai Brak). I studied Torah all day. Yet, at each of these Jewish academies, there were no other Jewish people. The world was Jew-less.
Over a period of one year while I was an Israeli soldier, this dream kept recurring while I was asleep and sometimes as a waking dream: A world without Jewish people.
Interpretation of the Dream
As a Jewish person, I experienced trepidation at this powerful, frightening, gripping dream. In my dream, the “objects” of the Jewish faith and culture remained: There were Tefillin, prayer shawls, Torah scrolls, prayer books, synagogues, Talmudic books, and Judaica. Yet, there were no Jewish human beings.
After one year of this powerful dream, I began to feel more free, strong, independent, integrated, whole, and happy. In my personal life, I began to practice a new branch of the Jewish religion: Judaism without Jewish community.
The meaning of my dream is that I had been “too reliant” on teamwork, group think, group dynamics, and social acceptance by others. Instead of focusing on “being accepted” by others, I began to accept myself first and foremost. I began praying alone at home, rather than praying in a Jewish minyan (group of ten Jews). I began spending Shabbat (Sabbath) alone, rather than attending synagogue service. I began studying Judaism and Jewish mystical philosophy alone, rather than seeking a chevruta (study group). I began practicing what I call: Judaism of one.
In my life, I had been too dependent on the acceptance of other people; too influenced by peer pressure; too reliant on external approval; too suggestible and too malleable. My sense of being an individual Jew was swallowed whole by the influence of other Jewish people. My sense of “I” or “self” or “Ich” in German had been corrupted by constant association with the collective.
Conclusion & Integration of Dream
My frightening recurring dream as an Israeli soldier became the basis of a “new branch” and “new denomination” of Judaism. Other denominations exist such as: Ultra-Orthodox, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Secular Humanist, Religious Zionist, and Neturei Karta. Each of these branches of Judaism has a founder, history, and internal logic.
Similarly, I am the founder of this new Jewish denomination: Judaism without Jewish community. I am a modern-day Maimonides (Rambam). This may be called “Isolation Judaism” in short. It is a Judaism practiced solely as an exercise of devotion between the individual Jew and the Creator (God Almighty).
Pursuant to Judaism without Jewish community: I no longer need groups; I no longer need to attend synagogues; I no longer need group Shabbat meals; I no longer need to observe Jewish holidays in groups; I no longer need Jewish leaders; no rabbis, no cantors (chazanim), no organizational leaders.
I am free to stand before the God of Israel as a sole, individual Jew; devoting myself completely to “Avodat HaShem” (Service of God). “Tefillah” (Jewish prayer), “Hitbonenut” (Jewish meditation), “Hasidut” (Hasidic Jewish philosophy), and “Kabbalah” (Jewish mysticism).
There is no longer a “barrier” between God Almighty and I. I am no longer beholden to any group or group dynamic. I am a “lone wolf” worshipper of the God of Israel. Whereas I have no animosity towards fellow Jews, I am completely self-reliant and God-reliant; not community-reliant.
I invite Jewish thinkers, philosophers, and communal leaders to study this new denomination of Judaism. Let us place our faith and trust in God alone. Let us find our strength in God alone. Let us pull down the strong holds of “group think” and “group dynamics”. Let each individual Jew “stand alone” before our Creator in complete repentance and humility. Let us establish the Kingdom of God; not the Kingdom of humankind.
In the past, it has been taught by Jewish scholars that Judaism is a group religion. It is time to overthrow and subvert this outdated, false paradigm. Let “Isolation Judaism” prevail.