Reprint: Interview with Rachel Adler (in anticipation of OHALAH)
In which Drew blesses me with peace (after a fashion)

A Rebbe Dream


I am carrying my son
around a bus filled with scholars:
rifling through my carry-on
in search of cheese sticks
and bananas, exploring
the wooden deck and silk flowers.

Someone ushers in my rebbe
proclaiming He's just received
a clean bill of health!

His beard is trimmed
and there's spring
in his step.

I shake hands
with a young Madeleine L'Engle,
perhaps forty, blond ponytail
and kind smile. I read email
from a Sufi sheikh who's sorry
he isn't able to join us.

Reb Zalman kneels beside me
and confirms I'll transcribe
all of the teachings,
asks what he can pay me.
It's a freewill offering, I reply
and he suggests $84.

(Only in the morning
well after I've woken
when I look up the number
on my gematria app
do I discover it equals
the Hebrew for dream.)

He moves on and I whisper
to a nearby friend
how does one come to look
fifteen years younger?
He hears, across the distance,
and laughs.


RebZalman2006-photobyJeriBerc(Image: Reb Zalman's last Accord visit, photo taken at the old Elat Chayyim by Jeri Berc, 2006.)

This poem arises out of a real dream I had a few nights ago. I wrote down everything I could remember of the dream once I was at my computer. The strange number chosen by the Reb Zalman in my dream piqued my curiosity, so I looked it up on iGematria; when I discovered that one of the words which matches with 84 is חלום, dream, I gave myself the shivers, a little bit.

I'm still not sure what to make of the dream. I remember thinking, during the dream, that I felt lucky to be able to move seamlessly between taking care of my son and learning from great teachers. (Madeleine L'Engle was one of the teachers on this mysterious Torah bus; another was Rabbi Shefa Gold.) I welcome responses both to the dream, and to the poem which the dream sparked!