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What the daytime cannot contain…

12/10/2009

First, about this week’s poem (see it here): it is one of my rare “happy” and “uplifting” pieces, published in Drash. Why should a weekly Torah portion that brings us the tossing of Joseph into a pit and his subsequent sale to the Egyptians, sexual hanky-panky (twice), jail time and the beheading of a baker inspire such (dare I say it?) dreamy writing?

I love dreams. I almost never have nightmares and my anxiety dreams almost always are about travel (being late, missing the plane, taking hours to pack). Occasionally I’ll dream about interiors (houses, apartments, office buildings) – usually a sign about something going on in my own interior (brain, heart, guts) that I need to attend to. Is it time to rearrange the furniture or my schedule? Is the scenery from this new window satisfying? Is someone trying to break in to my psyche? Mostly my dreams are just plain interesting. Even when they are preposterous, or scary, dreams don’t weird me out. Not even when there are aliens or knives or things that would terrify me during the day.

Dreams, the kind you have when you’re asleep, contain the jumbled-up truth and are worth paying attention to. Joseph knew that. He just didn’t know that sometimes it’s better not to mention that you’re the sun to everyone else’s moon.

The dreams you have while you’re awake, no matter how far-fetched, also contain the truth. Tamar – the protagonist (to my mind) of a sidebar in this week’s Torah portion – knew that. Married to one of Judah’s sons (Judah being Joseph’s big brother) and then another, she approached Judah for the hand of his 3rd son, still young, but very much alive (unlike the first 2). When it’s clear that he is not holding up his side of the bargain, she takes matters into her own hands. Tamar dresses as a prostitute, entices Judah, gets pregnant, and is eventually brought before him for punishment (i.e., burning). When confronted with his belt and other items, Judah – to his credit – owns his participation in the dirty deed.

Tamar gives birth 6 months later to twins, one of whom – Perez – is the ancestor of King David. Which goes to show: what one dreams up during the daytime should not be dismissed out of hand. It could not have been easy for Tamar to put on a veil and sit by the side of the road, but there was something in her that was committed to setting things right. Was she supposed to sit in her father’s house forever?

If ignored long enough, our craziest and most revolutionary daytime notions are likely to show up at night, where the scenery is a bit more surreal. Which brings me back to What the Daytime Cannot Contain, the Night Will Embrace. These are my daydreams. Hope they appeal.

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