By Rabbi Daniel Travis
Then Yosef had a dream and told it to his brothers… (Bereshith 37:5)
The commentators tell us that Yosef’s dreams were in fact true, and
foretold his destiny – that he would be Viceroy of Egypt. Why did God
choose to communicate such important information to Yosef while he was
sleeping? The reason is that while a person is awake he is primarily
occupied with the body, and his transcendental part does not have a chance
to express itself. When a person is sleeping, his focus is no longer on
the physical self. Under these conditions, the spiritual side is given
free rein and the mind can act as a receptacle for semi-prophetic
We know of several outstanding personalities after Yosef who also merited
true dreams. One such individual was Rav Maimon, an exceptional Torah
scholar who chose to remain single for a number of years in order to
devote all of his time to Torah study. One night he was told in a dream to
visit a certain town in Spain, and while there, to marry the daughter of
Yom Tov, the butcher. When he awoke, Rav Maimon dismissed the dream, but
on the following night he had the same dream again. Again he paid no
attention to the dream. Nevertheless, night after night the dream
recurred, until Rav Maimon could no longer ignore it. He traveled to the
town to which he had been directed in his dream, located Yom Tov the
butcher, and asked him for his daughter’s hand in marriage. They were wed,
and shortly thereafter Rav Maimon’s wife bore him a son whom they named
Moshe. This son grew up to be the great Torah Sage known as the
Even in recent times, righteous individuals have merited to have prophetic
dreams. As a young child, Rav Nachum Velvel Dessler (son of the renowned
Rav Eliyahu Dessler) once went to visit the home of Rav Elyah Lopian. On
the way, as Nachum stepped off the curb a car sped by, nearly hitting him.
Shaken by what had happened, he continued walking. When he arrived, Rav
Elyah noticed that he was pale, and asked him if everything was all right.
The boy told the Rav what had transpired, and Rav Elyah exclaimed, “Thank
God, the danger is over. Last night I dreamt that you had a terrible
accident, and I have been praying for your safety all day long, up to this
very moment!” When he returned home to his father and told him the story,
Rav Dessler replied “I had the very same dream and have been fasting from
then until now!”3
1 Orchoth Tzadikim, Shaar HaEmeth.
2 Seder HaDoroth, p. 206.
3 Reb Elyah Artscroll pp. 18-19.
Text Copyright © 2008 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org