Mindfulness

Like Jacob, who paid attention to Joseph's dreams and their effect on the family, we should be mindful of events and experiences that evoke a sense of the Divine presence.

Print this page Print this page

"There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries and has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what is to be at the end of days…. O king, the thoughts that came to your mind in your bed are about future events. The One who reveals mysteries has let you know what is to happen." (Daniel 2:28-29)

The meaning of the expression, "What is this dream you have dreamed?" is the same as "What is man that You are mindful of him?" (Psalms 144:3) (Nachmanides, Commentary on the Torah, Genesis 37:11)

What are we, that You are mindful of us? What are we, that You should care for us? (Gates of Prayer, p. 147)

A person dreams at night that which he thinks about during the day. (Talmud, B'rachot 55b)

Days are like scrolls: Write on them only what you want remembered. (Bachya ibn Pakuda in Gates of Repentance, p. 233)

Your Guide

Genesis Rabbah implies that Jacob's note taking was divinely inspired. Do you agree?

In Genesis Rabbah, R. Levi suggests that Jacob not only recognized something noteworthy about Joseph's dream, he also acted upon it: By writing the incident down, he committed it to memory. Do you have any mental pictures of moments in your life that you have made a point of remembering?

According to Daniel, there are many mysteries that God reveals to us if we are mindful of them. What are some of the ways in which we can be more mindful of the world around us? How does one "see" sanctity?

Psalm 144 (and the adaptation of it in Gates of Prayer) states that God is mindful of us. Does this mean that our actions are incorporated into God's decisions about our future?

Compare and contrast Jacob's question in Genesis 37:11 to Psalm 144:3. Why do you think that Nachmanides compared them to one another?

If dreams are hints of the future and what we think about affects our dreams (according to Talmud, B'rachot), do you believe that what we think about also affects our future?

If days are the scrolls of our lives as Bachya ibn Pakuda states, how can we make them a "good read?"

What can you recite from memory? How do these sayings, songs, stories, or psalms affect the way you see the world? How do they affect your actions?

Do you know people who have memorized certain prayers of our faith, such as Psalm 23? Has this helped them in times of need?

D'var Torah

That which we are mindful of becomes a part of us: We view the world through such filters. When we see the world in a certain way, we act accordingly, and through our actions, the world actually changes.

Rather than allowing our minds to be filled with whatever bombards us, we should choose to be like Jacob, who sought to record words and moments of transcendence. Although he couldn't foresee how the divine plan would unfold, he was keenly aware that it was being acted out around him and that he and his family were central to it.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Rabbi Jeffrey L. Glickman

Rabbi Jeffrey Glickman is the rabbi of Temple Beth Hillel in South Windsor, CT.