Rodger Kamenetz, author of Nextbook Press’s Burnt Books: Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav and Franz Kafka, is also a dream therapist. This week, between the two Torah portions in which Joseph interprets dreams, Kamenetz responds to questions about dreams submitted by Tablet Magazine readers.
I see a man I never met, but even so, I know him well. He was well known in his day and still has instant recognition when pictures are shown of him. He’s riding a horse toward me and he is someone I have been very fond of since the age of 10. It appears to be an old western town (Wild West) and my father and grandfather (mom’s dad) are there, too. I adored my father and grandfather. Oddly, I do not see any of my female relatives, especially my maternal grandmother and aunts, or any of my uncles on both sides of the family. I feel as though I was being kissed by this man when he gets off his horse. Then suddenly he jumps back on it and rides off at great speed.
Okay, so who is this man? He sounds like Roy Rogers or Gene Autry—or some other cowboy hero from when you were 10. Ten is important; what were you like then? What were you feeling at that age? A girl of 10 is already feeling into becoming a woman, and that romance with this cowboy-man is rooted in the even older romance with the father (and possibly grandfather, since you mention him). And, of course, even deeper, it is the souls’ romance with the divine. The one we keep forgetting and keep trying to remember.
Here it’s very nice because you “adored … father and grandfather.” So that’s fortunate because it means the male archetype can come to you and you don’t have a lot of barriers to being with him. You feel with him the way you would have felt at 10 with your cowboy hero. That’s beautiful. Just understand that’s a capacity of your heart, that’s not just a memory of the past. The 10-year-old girl equals your heart. It’s always alive in you and is reflected in this dream.
One note of caution. Something happens when he kisses you. Your language sounds a bit removed. “I felt as though I was being kissed.” Hmm. I’m guessing you may not have allowed yourself to feel this as deeply as you might have. And that may be why he jump backs on his horse. A greater vulnerability for you with him would be to let the kiss linger. That’s what I would ask you to do with the dream. Right there in that moment when he kisses you, I bet there are some feelings that come up that might be difficult. That’s the place to open the door of the dream further.
Burnt Books: Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav and Franz Kafka [Nextbook Press]
Earlier: The Dream Doctor Is In