Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I'm dreaming of a pasul sefer torah

First, a few quick items:
1) The Kosher Cooking Carnival is here; thanks for the great billing, Isramom!
And while we’re on the topic of cooking, the wonderful Rebbetzin came across a great-looking Rosh HaShanah recipe, “Roasted Chicken, Apples and Leeks,” here at Real Simple.

2) You already know I love my ScienceDaily emails; here are two more reasons, from the “No Kidding!” department:
Fake Popup Warnings Fool Internet Users Even After Repeated Mistakes
Facebook Profiles Can Be Used To Detect Narcissism.
Thank you for making this possible with your tax dollars, and your contributions to your university’s endowment fund.

3) Oh, and one more weird one, from a Real Simple article on Apple-Picking:
Pack an old-fashioned bag-and-thermos lunch, but swap the typical PB & J for something more interesting, like Roasted Sweet Potato and Apple Soup and Cucumber and Goat Cheese Sandwiches.
Um… I guess you and I have different definitions of “Real Simple.”

But back to the topic of this post:
I had a dream last night, in which I was leining the pasuk, כי חלק ה' עמו יעקב חבל נחלתו, but the word נחלתו was missing. I hunted for it, and eventually found it written in the wrong place, a line before the spot in which it belonged. (Translation: The sentence was supposed to be, For Gd’s nation is His portion; Jacob is the portion of Gd’s inheritance. The word missing was of Gd’s inheritance. It’s Devarim 32:9.)

It’s not that unusual for me to experience a stress dream about having a Torah-reading problem. I am the shul’s regular baal keriah, I lein all the time, so this is the equivalent of a public speaker dreaming about getting up to speak and finding he can’t read his notes, or a chef dreaming about not being able to locate the salt.

The dream was also missing a key realistic element, which makes me more likely to dismiss it: That sentence comes from the shirah of Haazinu, which is written in the Torah in poetic columns, but in my dream it was in the Torah’s normal paragraph format. Even in the middle of the night I would remember that detail; Haazinu is one of my favorite segments in the Torah, with its beautiful poetry.

Still, the dream disturbs me.

What could it mean? Some possibilities:
It’s a reminder to speak about Israel, our נחלה/inheritance, more often.
It’s a reminder to speak about Jewish unity, which makes us a single portion of Gd.
It’s a warning of guilt for me; our status as Gd’s inheritance relies on the merit and covenant of our ancestors, and I am not living up to that merit and covenant.

I don’t know. I’m not about to declare a תענית חלום (taanit chalom, a fast undertaken to atone for one’s sins, triggered by a frightening dream) for myself, but I wonder what was going inside my head last night.

Lion of Zion, if you want to shed light on the leining issue, go ahead. Therapydoc, you're welcome to weigh in on the dream.


  1. if you lived in 17th c. brazil and made this mistake during leining you would have been
    fined 2 florins.

    there are some famous mistakes (variants) in האזינו, but i don't think this is one of them. probably just an amateur sofer, which is confirmed by his standard prose layout in your dream.

    "Haazinu is one of my favorite segments in the Torah, with its beautiful poetry."

    i'm not normally a poetic person, but i have to admit that האזינו is one of my favorites to lein (besides, it's a really easy פרשה)

    although i'm long retired from the professional baalkoriate, i still have a number of recurring nightmares, one of which involves leining (not prepared, torah written with letters i can't read, etc.). but i don't get stage fright in general or specifically when leining. (we have it much easier because we don't face the "audience.") what i was afraid of was oversleeping and i used to set a million alarm clocks.

    "What could it mean?

    write fewer sermons and use the saved time to practice the leining more?

  2. You've got it covered, Rabbi. It's a fear dream, not a nevuah. Don't fast. At least you're not dropping the Sefer Torah. Shana tova oo metuka.

  3. "At least you're not dropping the Sefer Torah"

    RH, as long as you a debunking myths (a la 120), is the fasting after dropping a ספר תורה true?


    "It's a fear dream"

    i guess you don't subscribe to random neuron firing

  4. Lion-
    It's more than the poetry; the language, combined with the trop, is just beautiful.
    I don't get stage fright when leining, either, although I do have certain aliyos that frighten me (like the beginning of Matos). It's just a general paranoia dream.
    Re: Dropping the sefer torah - That is mostly myth. I taught a class on this several years ago; I'll have to see if I can find my notes.

    Thanks, and for you as well.

  5. It could be that thinking about cucumber and goat cheese sandwiches before bedtime was upsetting enough to disturb your sleep. Or maybe that famous Marx--Groucho--has the answer: Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar--and sometimes a bad dream is just that, a dream with no other import.

  6. ProfK-
    I'm about to chow down on a late night snack with sauerkraut to keep myself going on this Rosh HaShanah derashah. Who knows what dreams I'll have when I finally get to sleep!