Halacha for Wednesday 19 Shevat 5777 February 15 2017

The Order of Improving a Dream

In the previous Halacha, we have explained that although there are dreams which are real, most dreams are not.

Nevertheless, since there are sometimes true elements in a dream, occasionally, one will have a bad dream and become distressed as a result. The following is the appropriate procedure for such an occurrence.

Firstly, if it seems to the individual who had the dream that the dream is not real and he is not concerned about it, one need not pay any attention to the dream and one may just tell himself that it is null and void. However, if one wishes to do something extra, one may perform the order of improving a dream, as follows:

If one has a bad dream and is distressed by it, one should consult with a Torah scholar fluent in these laws to see if there is anything to be concerned about regarding the dream. If one is still distressed because one feels that there is room for concern, one may perform the order of improving a dream. (The source of such an order being beneficial is because the outcome of the dream depends on its interpretation, as the Gemara [Berachot 55b] explains. Thus, since we tell the individual during the order of improving the dream that his dream was in fact good, this impacts the dream and indeed makes it better.)

One must come before three friends and tell them, “I have seen a good dream.” The friends then respond, “It is good and it shall be good. May Hashem make it good and may Heaven decree seven times that it be good. It is good and it shall be good.” The three friends then recite three verses to the individual that contain a language of “turning over”, another three verses that contain a language of redemption, and another three verses that contain a language of peace. These verses can be found in the Gemara (Berachot 55b). This entire order, based on the teachings of the Ari z”l, can also be found in many Sephardic and Middle Eastern Siddurim.

It is customary that the individual who had the dream recite the statement “I have seen a good dream” three times and the three friends respond with the sentence “It is good and it shall be good etc.” seven times. With regards to reciting the three verses of “turning over”, the three verses of redemption, and the three verses of peace, it is customary that the dreamer recite the first verse and the three friends respond by reciting the remaining two verses. This custom is based on the words of the saintly Ari z”l.

The individual who had the dream must recount the dream to his three friends before they begin performing the order of improving the dream. After performing this order, they recite the following verse to him: “Go eat your bread with joy and drink your wine with a good heart, for Hashem has already accepted your actions.”

In many Siddurim, there is an abridged version of the order of improving dreams printed within Birkat Kohanim. Hagaon Harav David Yosef Shlit”a writes that this version is meant for one is who is unsure whether or not the dream is good or bad. However, one who feels that the dream is certainly a bad one should perform the complete order of improving dreams which we have discussed above. Similarly, there are some dreams that one must fast one day for. However, since such dreams are fairly uncommon, we shall not discuss them at length in this forum.

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