Monthly Archives: September 2013

“I am Yours and my Dreams are Yours”

The strangest prayer in the siddur is printed with Birkat Kohanim, the section of the repetition of the amidah in which the descendants of the priestly class bless the congregation. As they say their blessing, the siddur instructs one to speedily say this prayer (Koren translation):

Cohanim Hands - Priestly Blessing

Master of the Universe, I am Yours and my dreams are Yours. I have dreamt a dream and I do not know what it means. May it be Your will, Lord my God and God of my fathers, that all my dreams be, for me and all Israel, for good, whether I have dreamt about myself, or about others, or others have dreamt about me. If they are good, strengthen and reinforce them, and may they be fulfilled in me and them like the dreams of the righteous Joseph. If, though, they need healing, heal them as You healed Hezekiah King of Judah from his illness, like Miriam the prophetess from her leprosy, like Na’aman from his leprosy, like the waters of Mara by Moses our teacher, and like the waters of Jericho by Elisha. And just as You turned the curses of Balaam the wicked from curse to blessing, so turn all my dreams about me and all Israel to good; protect me, be gracious to me and accept me. Amen.

This is a diaspora practice only, where Birkat Kohanim is said only on holidays and only then during Musaf. The strange part of this prayer, for me, is its focus on dreams, and more broadly, thoughts. Judaism is an action-based religion. Why does this prayer consider other people’s dreams about me a subject requiring my petition to God? Adding to its mystical element, what I’ve been taught about the placement of this prayer is that one says it quickly while the Kohanim are chanting so that one comes to its end as the congregation says “Amen” at the end of the priestly blessing. It’s as if they are saying “Amen” to this private prayer as well, and when else do people say “Amen” to a prayer they haven’t heard? Continue reading