Last night I had a nightmare.
It was Friday afternoon and my Shabbos candles were all prepared. But I was busy doing other things and lost track of time. I finally, panic-stricken, looked at my watch and noticed that it was 7:38 pm. I asked my friend Rivki Silver, “What time is shkia (sundown)??” But she just looked at me sorrowfully and shook her head from side to side. I then saw that her candles were lit, understood that it was already Shabbos, and realized that my hands were still busy with non-Shabbos activity.
I started to cry, gazing at the pathetic sight of my unlit and forgotten candles, overwhelmed with loss, grief, and regret. I could never redo this moment. Never. I woke up, still making crying sounds, flooded with relief that, indeed, it was only a dream.
Ack! So stressful! I've had that dream, too. Very cute that I made a cameo in your dream. Maybe next time I'll get to be in one that's less stressful!
This actually happened to me when I was pregnant with #3. Matt had gone to shul very early because he had some things to set up before mincha. I had maybe 15 minutes until lighting, so, like an idiot, I thought, I'll just lie down and rest for a few minutes and then I'll get up and light. My lovely daughters decided to play quietly in the basement and let Ima rest. I woke up 30 mins after shkia.
My seat is directly across from the sideboard where I light, so I had to sit there through the entire meal, looking at those unlit wicks floating on the oil. It was not the best Shabbos every.
Reminds me of my dream one Pesach where I suddenly discovered a bag of flour right smack in the middle of my refrigerator. In the dream I kept going back and forth thinking, "Oh, no, this is serious" and "It's not a problem because it's just dry flour." Then I woke up and realized it really was a serious problem. It took some time before I realized the whole thing was a dream and there was no bag of flour there.
I had a dream like this this past Pesach! We have a big shelving unit with no sides that sits in the kitchen. We pile all the chametz onto it and sell the whole thing, though usually we put plastic bags around the outside so it's not in view. And I had this terrible dream that I woke up, stumbled to the kitchen for breakfast, and started eating the cereal off the shelf. I woke up in a total panic, hyperventilating because I was chayyev karet. Once I realized that I was in bed, not in the kitchen, I calmed down. But man, the fear was so real.
Did the panic and despair in the dream reflect how you really would feel if you missed sundown? Would the tragedy be that you failed to do a duty in lighting the candles, or that you would eat in the dark, or that the kids would miss out on a special moment that week, or that you had done non-Shabbat work during Shabbat–and is that worse than missing candles?
Yes, it did reflect how I would really feel in real life, although I doubt I would cry in real life like I did in my dream. The tragedy for me would be that I missed out and that Friday night would just feel so empty and not authentic. We wouldn't eat in the dark, since I put the lights on before Shabbos. It wasn't even about the kids (oddly they weren't even in my dream, hmmm). Yes, definitely that I had done non-Shabbos work on Shabbos – to me, that was horrifying. It is worse than missing candles.
I know the dream could be upsetting, but the description is a bit dramatic. Even if one were to make such a mistake in real life, isn't that what life is about – learning from our mistakes and trying to do better next time? And Shabbos is always coming again next week, so the opportunity to do better is never far away. If we never made mistakes, we wouldn't need Yom Kippur, right?
You're so right, tesyaa. It wasn't about anyone being mad at me or even me being mad at myself. It was just the feeling that I missed out – in a way that has never happened before. It was epic, somehow.
Ruchi – I'm wondering if, in the mix of emotions, there is also a sense of failure for you in this worry. And if so, whom you might have failed – your family and self, I would imagine, but also HaShem? Just curious.
Really trying to remember… it was all about failing myself, I think.
I completely understand the epic, terrible, falling-off-a-cliff feeling of discovering "I missed out". Like if I were late to a kid's performance at school and missed her big moment onstage. That moment will never be back. Gone forever in its beautiful uniqueness. Crying won't even help.
And there is the existential version of how even moments I was there for at the time are over, and I can't have them back, even remembering them can be painful because they are past not present. Again, associated with kids: never again a loose tooth or even a diaper change. I can have the same kind of pain even though it's not "I missed out" but "it's gone forever".
My armchair-psychology view is that dreams governed by a really strong feeling are more about the feeling and not the events, and the mind invents the scenario that will allow that feeling to get expressed.
Like those dreams where you are ashamed to discover yourself naked in a public place [do modest Os not have those? and I guess if so it's even worse for Os than for the rest of us] are expressing a feeling of shame that you might have been having around something else, maybe something less conscious. The unconscious pops in a scenario that evokes the feeling, like a pressure-release valve.
I think all Orthodox women who cover their hair have a nightmare every now and then about going out in public without a hair covering and feeling super embarrassed like naked. Actually a few months ago I was rushed to hospital in an emergency situation and in all the kerfuffle my head covering came off. I was barely conscious but conscious enough to feel embarrassed but too weak to do much about it and my husband was freaking out too so that I think he didn't notice. It's really awkward in retrospect though. I am glad we didn't see anyone we knew!
I also have dreams sometimes that I am realising the food I am eating is non-kosher, or that I married two guys by accident (that one's really wierd!). The prevailing feeling is always one of extreme awkward discomfort like "how am I going to get out of this" as well as loss along the lines of what Ruchi describes. But I totally agree with you SBW that often the content of the dreams is just the cultural references that make sense but the real essence of the dream is the emotion expressed i.e. shame or grief or loss, to understand the dreams I try and strip away the concrete events and get to the root of the deeper concepts involved. So e.g. there's a fear of being exposed and someone seeing a part of you that you'd rather be kept hidden, for one person that might be represented in a dream about forgetting to be dressed, for another the dream is powerful enough just with the hair showing. But really the dream could be about a sense of shame over your inner thoughts that you want to keep hidden and hope no one will discover as they might not be as pretty as the image you project on the outside or whatever.
Orthodox women occasionally have real life "naked" moments (not involving real nakedness) when we feel exposed – i.e. someone barges into the house unexpectedly when we're wearing short sleeves (!) or a head covering pops off. Google "funniest headcovering stories" (yes, really) to get a sense of what this is like.
(I mean, I sometimes wear short sleeves now even in public, but there was a time when I covered up 100% of my waking hours, even home alone, just because of that remote possibility that someone would come by unexpectedly).
Exactly. For me it was representational of failure in general, maybe.
Thank you for sharing! Thinking about what that may feel like reminds me to focus on the many,many such precious moments we have throughout our days, and of course,when it comes to shabbos…it is possible to "miss out" even when you are fully there in the practical sense of the word. But how many times do we (I) just go through actions without thinking about them? But imagining how I would feel if I completely missed out on the candles, or being there for a child, or seeing that loved on smile because of what I said- it helps me to be able to really appreciate the moment.
Hope that made some sense. Again, thanks for the blog. I discovered it recently and enjoy reading and hearing your take on things!
So true, Penina. Thanks for your insight and welcome to the blog.
Hey Ruchi, are you asleep at the wheel?? 🙂