THE PURPOSE OF SLEEP
When the sun is set and the stars decorate the heavens, part of our soul leaves our body. Even if we remain awake, part of the soul still departs, which is one reason why we begin to feel more tired and drained as night unfolds.
During actual sleep, the Zohar explains that 59 of the 60 parts of our soul leave our bodies, leaving only 1/60 to sustain us physically.
When the body is in slumber, the chains of physical existence are suddenly broken. The soul is now free to ascend to a high place in the spiritual realm where it receives nourishment and information.
Why the need for a recharge? In the course of a typical, chaotic day, the limitations of time, space, and motion take their toll on the body and soul. Take the concept of time, for example: Time constantly keeps us under pressure. Either we're playing catch-up, madly trying to meet deadlines as the clock races by, or we grow impatient as time slows to a crawl.
WHY THE DREAM STATE?
During our "metaphysical tune-up," the soul is in a realm beyond time and space. Past, present, and future are unified into one. The totality of a human life span is fully displayed from birth to death.
Thus, in addition to getting a recharge, the soul oftentimes catches sight of events that are coming our way, both positive and negative.
These glimpses are then filtered down to the body, where they take the form of dreams.
Most of our dreams are a combo-plate special. In other words, one aspect of a dream consists of the events, experiences, and thoughts currently occupying our conscious minds. Interspersed into this mixture are visions of the soul that dwell in the subconscious.
According to Kabbalah, dreams offer us the opportunity to understand our negative character traits. They can help us learn what it is we need to change in order to grow spiritually. Of course, we must know how to read and interpret the dream in order to discern this wisdom.
Moreover, if a person has no intent or desire to change or experience spiritual growth and transformation, then the messages of the soul are much harder to detect. In fact, we probably won't even remember the majority our dreams.
It is said that King David was a man of extraordinary spiritual character. Whenever he experienced a terrifying nightmare, he was able to glean the message from it and make the necessary spiritual corrections in his life.
On the other hand, the Zohar tells us that an unjust man will often be shown a happy dream (an untruthful one) so as to lead him further astray from the path of the truth. This spiritual principle is explained in the following Zohar text:
Whoever sets out to purify himself is purified from above, and whoever sets out to defile himself is similarly defiled from above. -Zohar II, 200a
The more spiritual an individual is, the more truthful the dream he experiences.
When a person is bent on self-centered behavior, if they are enslaved to their own ego, this will tilt the scales of power from the soul to the body. Thus, it makes it far more difficult for the soul to elevate during sleep.
The kabbalists teach us that each night when our soul ascends, it is asked whether we've accomplished anything of spiritual substance during the previous day. If the answer is negative, the soul cannot receive its full charge. We wake up feeling tired and lethargic, regardless of how many hours we've slept. We feel run-down, even if our bodies are healthy.
According to the Zohar, if a person fails to have a dream for seven days or more, it is because he is consumed by selfish desires, and tremendous negative forces are now controlling him. His negative deeds far outweigh his positive deeds each day.
Don't panic just yet. Many of us can have a dream but we might not remember it. The problem in this scenario is that there is a lack of communication between the person and his soul. If there is a lack of learning and spiritual growth in one's life, he will not merit access to the information in his dreams.
All dreams contain both truths and lies, according to the Zohar. Dreams that occur between the hours of 12 midnight and 5:00 a.m. usually contain a larger proportion of truth.
Interpreting dreams is a delicate matter, and only the very knowledgeable will be able to understand the true messages that are concealed inside a dream.
A dream that is not interpreted can be likened to a person receiving an important confidential package overnight, via FedEx, and the person never bothers to open it up.
If we have a good dream, and we do not tell it to an interpreter, the dream remains in a state of potential. It becomes much harder for the positive elements of the dream to manifest in our life.
Moreover, if we do not understand the messages being conveyed through our dreams, we miss out on the path and the specific point of correction that we came to this world to achieve. In other words, there is an aspect of our internal character that is in need of correction and change. The path to effect this change is made evident in our dreams.
It is written that there were 24 interpreters of dreams in Jerusalem during the time of the Second Temple (approximately 2000 years ago). If a person told his dream to all 24 interpreters, the dreamer might very well receive 24 different interpretations.
Remarkably, the sages teach us, all 24 interpretations could actually play themselves out in the physical world. Namely, the act of interpreting dramatically impacts and influences the dream's expression in the physical world.
On that account, the Zohar says that the interpretation of a dream is actually more important than the dream itself. Hence, it behooves you to make every effort to find the right person to interpret your dream. It should be someone who truly loves and cares for you, or it should be a spiritual person who possesses a love for all mankind, because the interpretation will color the dream's influence in your life.
According to Kabbalah, we should not tell more than one person our negative dreams, to prevent any openings for its physical expression.
A person who loves you will always interpret a negative dream in a more positive light, which is extremely important. For example, if there was an accident, it could be interpreted not as a physical accident but something spiritual that you need to work on and fix in your life.
We have learned that when a man has had a dream, he should unburden himself of it before men who are his friends so that they should express to him their good wishes and give utterances to words of good omen. Thus, a man's friends should affirm the good interpretation, and so all will be well. -Zohar II, 200a