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Remembering What You Dreamt

Rodger Kamenetz interprets your dreams

The Editors
December 01, 2010
(Ravi Joshi/Tablet Magazine)
(Ravi Joshi/Tablet Magazine)

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 can honestly say I have no dreams. I am a nocturnal epileptic and so have many fits throughout the night. Am I or am I not having dreams?


Charlie, I can’t address your specific medical issues, since although I am a “dream doctor,” I’m no doctor at all. I don’t even play one on TV. (Well I did play a cardiologist in Stephen Soderbergh’s Schizopolis, but that’s another matter.) Anyway, the research shows that most people sleep in a cycle of four stages, and when they reach the deepest level and then climb back up the ladder to level 3, they have rapid eye movement sleep associated with dreaming. (There’s some more recent contention about this point.) The exceptions are people on certain medications, and people with certain severe brain conditions. I don’t know, Charlie, whether you fit the latter category.

What I can say is that “What if I don’t dream?” is the most common question I hear. My answer in 99 percent of the cases is: You do dream. You just don’t remember your dreams. Why? I have some theories.

1) We are out of practice.

2) We don’t understand the “use” of dreams, so we neglect them.

3) Clock radios. No way you will remember a dream if you wake up to someone talking about the news.

4) We may not want to face the truths dream show us about ourselves.

5) We may not have anyone to tell our dreams to. (Tip: If you tell your dream, tell it to someone who loves you. The rabbis say, “Dreams go according to the interpretation.” Therefore, don’t do as Joseph did and tell your dreams to your brothers who hate you. Bad things will happen. Tell them to people who love you. )

From the editors of Tablet Magazine.