Divrei ben Abuya

In the Babylonian Talmud, Elisha ben Abuya was a great sage who lost his faith in God. So great was he that his and subsequent generations continued learning from him - to the extent that the authors of the Talmud needed to create a story that would serve to legitimise his teachings despite his apostasy. His lesson is a lesson for us all: that great stature is not contingent upon blind faith, nor high learning upon the observation of Torah precepts.

September 20, 2006

I Have Dreamed a Dream...

In honour of the rapidly approaching Rosh HaShana I thought that I might post up some of the more beautiful parts of the day's liturgy. When the kohanim ascend the bimah to bless the congregation, custom dictates that they sing the words of Numbers 6:24-26 slowly enough for the congregation to insert a brief prayer in the midst of their singing. That prayer is as follows:
רבונו של עולם, אני שלך וחלומותי שלך. חלום חלמתי ואיני יודע מה הוא. יהי רצון מלפניך, יהוה אלהי ואלהי אבותי, שיהיו כל חלומותי עלי ועל כל ישראל לטובה - בין שחלמתי על עצמי, ובין שחלמתי על אחרים, ובין שחלמו אחרים עלי. אם טובים הם, חזקם ואמצם, ויתקימו בי ובהם כחלומותיו של יוסף הצדיק. ואם צריכים רפואה, רפאם כחזקיהו מלך יהודה מחליו, וכמרים הנביאה מצרעתה, וכנעמן מצרעתו, וכמי מרה על ידי משה רבנו, וכמי יריחו על ידי אלישע. וכשם שהפכת את קללת בלעם הרשע מקללה לברכה, כן תהפוך כל חלומותי עלי ועל כל ישראל לטובה, ותשמרני ותחנני ותרצני. אמן
The following is my translation:
Master of the World, I am Yours and my dreams are Yours.
I have dreamed a dream and I do not know what it was.
May it be Your will, O Lord my God and the God of my ancestors, that all of my dreams concerning myself and concerning the Jewish people be for good:
Whether I dreamed them about myself;
Or whether I dreamed them about others;
Or whether others dreamed them about me.

If they are good: strengthen them and enforce them and bring them to fulfilment in regards to me and in regards to them - like the dreams of the righteous Joseph.
But if they require healing: heal them [as You healed] Hezekiah, king of Judah, from his sickness;
And the prophet Miriam from her leprosy;
And Naaman from his leprosy;
And the bitter waters by the hand of our teacher Moses;
And the waters of Jericho by the hand of Elisha.

And in the manner that You altered the wicked Balaam's curse from a curse to a blessing,
So too may You favourably alter all of my dreams regarding myself and regarding all of the Jewish people.

May You shield me
May You be merciful to me
May You desire me.



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