10/02/2006

A Very Bizarre Yom Kippur Dream

I rarely remember my own dreams, and they’re usually not much to report, but I had one on Yom Kippur night which was truly strange, and I think I know what it means. Here’s what happened.

In restless dreams I woke up to the sounds of marauders breaking in to my home through the roof on Yom Kippur. I run to the bathroom door, from where they would gain entry to the rest of my house, and try to prevent them from doing so. I scream for my wife to get the kids out of harm’s way and to call the police. The marauders are not people. They are a teeming black amorphous something.

My the time the police arrive, I’ve been killed; beaten to an unrecognizable bloody pulp. The police officer looks around and kind of nonchalantly says there’s nothing he can do. It’s clear he knows more, that this was perpetrated by an evil that he will not confront, or even that he has a deal with to let it run its course without trying to stop it.

So what does it mean? Certain aspects art clear. Having just moved into a new home in a new country, there are certain natural anxieties about protecting one’s family from many an unnamed danger. The fact that I’ve yet to padlock the roof access adds a bit to that anxiety.

The rest of it is Yom Kippur imagery, specifically pertaining to the ritual of the se’ir ha-mishtale’ach, the scapegoat. According to Nachmanides, the idea of this ritual is to ‘throw a bone’ to an evil demigod called Azazel. The goat that was sacrificed was thrown from a cliff; the Mishna records that the goat would be utterly destroyed before it was even halfway down the cliff.

It seems that my own anxieties have transposed themselves onto this scapegoat imagery, with myself as the scapegoat. I fear that I have ‘sacrificed’ myself – career, money, peace-of-mind – for the sake of my family. The ‘unnamed evil’ somehow has an unspoken agreement with the powers that be here in Israel. There will always be a few who are chewed up and spit out.

I hope that these fears remain just fears. Maybe my dreams will be more pleasant next Yom Kippur.

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