Tales of צדיקים (and Sundry Other Individuals)

R. Aryeh Kaplan’s version of a classic hasidic tale:

A man once dreamed that there was a great treasure under a bridge in Vienna. He traveled to Vienna and stood near the bridge, trying to figure out what to do. He did not dare search for the treasure by day, because of the many people who were there.

An officer passed by and asked, “What are you doing, standing by and contemplating?” The man decided that it would be best to tell the whole story and ask for help, hoping that the officer would share the treasure with him. He told the officer the entire story.

The officer replied, “A Jew is concerned only with dreams! I also had a dream, and I also saw a treasure. It was in a small house, under the cellar.”

In relating his dream, the officer accurately described the man’s city and house. He rushed home, dug under his cellar, and found the treasure. He said, “Now I know I had the treasure all along. But in order to find it, I had to travel to Vienna.”

The same is true in serving G-d. Each person has the treasure, but in order to find it, he must travel to the tzaddik.1

In Gedaliah Fleer’s version, the protagonist is from Prague, and the bridge is described as “leading to the King’s palace”:

There was once a poor, G-d fearing Jew who lived in the city of Prague. One night he dreamt that he should journey to Vienna. There, at the base of a bridge leading to the King’s palace, he would find a buried treasure.

Night after night the dream recurred until, leaving his family behind, he traveled to Vienna to claim his fortune. The bridge, however, was heavily guarded. The watchful eyes of the King’s soldiers afforded little opportunity to retrieve the treasure. Every day the poor Jew spent hours pacing back and forth across the bridge waiting for his chance.

After two weeks time one of the guards grabbed him by the lapels of his coat and demanded gruffly, “Jew! What are you plotting? Why do you keep returning to this place day after, day?” Frustrated and anxious, he blurted out the story of his dream. When he finished, the soldier, who had been containing his mirth, broke into uncontrollable laughter.

The poor Jew looked on in astonishment, not knowing what to make of the man’s attitude. Finally, the King’s guard caught his breath. He stopped laughing long enough to say, “What a foolish Jew you are believing in dreams. Why, if I let my life be guided by visions, I would be well on my way to the city of Prague. For just last night I dreamt that a poor Jew in that city has, buried in his cellar, a treasure which awaits discovery.”

The poor Jew returned home. He dug in his cellar and found the fortune. Upon reflection he thought, the treasure was always in my.possession. Yet, I had to travel to Vienna to know of its existence.

So too, in our time, many spiritually impoverished Jews travel in search… finally returning to Judaism to claim what was always their own.

While R. Kaplan doesn’t specify the temporal relationship between the dreams, and Fleer has the two dreams weeks apart, this Breslov.org version emphasizes that both dreams occurred on the same night (it also adds the detail that the bridge crossed the Danube, and calls the tale a parable):

Rebbe Nachman teaches: Closeness to God and to oneself is attainable only through the tzaddik. The tzaddik reveals the beauty and grace that exists in the Jewish soul. This soul comes from the loftiest of places; it is rooted on high, in the Thought of God, and stems from the very source of Creation. We come to the tzaddik in order to uncover this beauty and grace, each Jew’s hidden treasure.

Rebbe Nachman expresses this idea with a parable:

One evening a poor and impoverished Jew dreamt of a great treasure under a certain bridge that crosses the Danube River in Vienna. He immediately traveled there, hoping to dig up the treasure for himself. But when he arrived, he saw an officer standing alongside the bridge, and so was afraid to search for the treasure. Before he could make up his mind what to do, the officer became suspicious of the loitering stranger.

“What do you want here?” the officer called out as he approached the frightened Jew.

Our hero concluded that it would be best to tell the truth and perhaps he could at least split the treasure with the officer. “I dreamt that there was a treasure here,” he responded. “I’ve come to dig it up.”

“Ha! You Jews! All that concerns you are dreams!” chuckled the officer. “I too had a dream. One night, maybe two weeks ago, I dreamt that there was a treasure at such and such an address, in the yard of a certain Jew. So what?! You don’t see me hurrying off to his town, do you?!”

The Jew was astounded. The officer had mentioned his city! His address! His name! And they had both had their dream on the very same night. He rushed home, searched his yard and found the treasure. “Look at that!” he exclaimed. “The treasure was right here next to me all along. But in order to find it, I had to travel to Vienna!”

This is true for all of us, Rebbe Nachman taught. Each person has a treasure inside him, but in order to find it, he must travel to the tzaddik. The tzaddik will show him how and where to look (Rabbi Nachman’s Stories #24).

Dovid Sears’s version, for Artscroll, has the soldier dreaming the dream “[f]or three nights in a row”:

A Jewish villager once dreamed about a treasure. In his dream the treasure was near a bridge in the city of Vienna. The very next morning, the villager packed his knapsack with his talis and tefillin, some clothes and a bit of food. Then he began the long, long walk to Vienna.

For many days and nights he trudged through forests and fields, valleys and towns.

When he arrived at last, the soldiers who guarded the city wouldn’t let him near the bridge. So day after day, he stood by the side of the road, trying to think of what to do.

One afternoon, a soldier walked up to him and asked, “Why are you standing here?”

The villager was silent for a moment. Perhaps we could be partners, he thought. After all, half a treasure is better than none! So he told the soldier about his dream.

“Only a Jew cares about dreams!” he laughed. “For three nights in a row, I dreamed that in a certain village there was a certain Jew – and he named the man’s village and his name – who had a treasure buried in his cellar. But do you think I believe in such foolish things?”

The villager simply thanked the soldier and began the long journey home. For many days and nights he trudged through forests and fields, valleys and towns. Finally, he came to his own little house. Without even sitting down for a cup of hot tea, the man went down to his cellar and started digging. Sure enough, he uncovered a huge treasure. He was able to live comfortably and do many good deeds for the rest of his days.

Later, when people asked him about his long journey, he said, “I really had the treasure all along. But to find it, I had to go to Vienna!”


In our desire to come closer to Hashem, the treasure we are searching for is inside of ourselves. But most of us can’t find it alone. First we must go to a Torah sage who can show us how to discover it.

Other versions, with only minor variations: here, here and here (in the former two, the protagonist is described as an Austrian Jew).

But while the foregoing accounts attribute the tale to R. Nachman and feature an unnamed protagonist, an alternate Hasidic tradition attributes the tale to “The holy Rebbe Reb Bunim of Peshischa“, with the protagonist identified as R. Isaac, son of Yeikel, founder of an eponymous Krakówian shul, “which still stood until World War 2”:

The holy Rebbe Reb Bunim of Peshischa used to tell those who came to him to become his students the following story:

In the city of Krakow is a shul called Reb Isaac Reb Yeikel’s shul, after the man who built. His story is as follows. Reb Isaac was a very poor man who lived in Krakow. One night he had a dream in which he was shown that there was a very large treasure buried near a big bridge in the city of Vienna.2 He was shown all the surroundings so that he could recognize it. When it was morning, he decided to ignore the dream, since after all most dreams are just foolishness. But he had it again the next night, and continued to have it. He finally could not hold himself back, and he set out to Vienna to see if there was any truth in the dream.

When he got there he saw the bridge exactly as it had been in his dream, and he could even recognize where the treasure was buried. But there was a problem. The bridge was near a palace which was surrounded by guards, who didn’t look like they would be so happy to let him start digging a hole there. So everyday he went out to look around to see the bridge, and maybe some idea would come to him as to how he could get the treasure that was there.

After a few days of this the guards began to suspect him. After all what purpose is there for a Jew to come and look around the palace everyday? So the head of the guards came over to him and say, ‘Jew, what do you want here?’ So Reb Isaac explained to him his dream and the purpose of his coming. After hearing the story the guard broke out in bellowing laughter that could be heard in the whole city if Vienna. ‘You stupid Jews’, said the guard. ‘If I was as foolish as you, following my dreams after buried treasure, you know what I would have done? I would have gone to Krakow and dug under the oven of some Jew named Isaac the son of Yeikel. Why half the Jews are called Isaac and the other half Yeikel. How stupid you Jews are.’

On hearing the words of the guard he replied, ‘Yes, I suppose you are correct. Thank you for setting me straight. I shall now return home.’ So he returned home, and dug under his oven and found a huge treasure. With part of it he built the shul [which still stood until World War 2].

The Rebbe Reb Bunim would say that when one goes to a Tzaddik in order to learn how to serve HaShem, he shouldn’t think that he is going to find something there. The Tzaddik can only help him to bring out that which is within him.

Interestingly, in this version the lesson is not that one needs to seek religious guidance from tzadikim – this is taken for granted; after all, the story is being told to those who had already come to become R. Bunim’s students! The point here, as noted in the conclusion, is that even “the Tzaddik can only help him to bring out that which is within him”. The following version goes even further, with the R. Bunim’s moral almost diametrically opposite to the one often associated with this story; not that “in order to find [the treasure], he must travel to the tzaddik”, but rather “The treasure cannot be found … by the Rebbe. The treasure will be found at your own place. …Children, go back home.”:

The following parable is one Reb Bunim would tell young people when they visited him the first time. It concerns Reb Isaac ben Reb Yekl from Cracow. Reb Isaac had no end of troubles: want, poverty, anguish. Naturally, despite all this, he did not lose his faith. Once he was told in a dream to set out for Prague. There, beneath a bridge near the royal palace, he would find a great treasure. When the dream was repeated a second and third time, Reb Isaac set out on the difficult journey.

Arriving in Prague, he went to the bridge and saw a large contingent of soldiers guarding it day and night. Naturally he could not start digging then and there for the treasure he had seen in his dream. Morning after morning he would come to the bridge and as if in a delirium would march back and forth until the onset of night.

Finally, the head guard asked him, “Who are you looking for?”

In all innocence Reb Isaac told him what he had seen in his dream and the reason for his coming to Prague.

The soldier laughed and told him: “In other words, on account of a dream you’ve dragged yourself this far? That’s what you get for believing in dreams. If I believed in dreams I too would have to travel far, because I was told in a dream to go to Cracow, enter the house of a Jew named Isaac the son of Reb Yekl, and look for a treasure hidden behind his stove.”

Reb Isaac listened to the soldier, returned to Cracow, and indeed dug up the treasure behind the stove in his own house. Later he built a synagogue in his name: Isaac ben Reb Yekl’s Synagogue.

“That is the parable – and what is the moral? One thing is clear. The treasure cannot be found elsewhere. Not under the bridge and not by the rebbe. The treasure will be found at your own place. Each and every one of you.” With these words Reb Bunim would end his parable. Then he would turn to the young people who came to him and say: “Children, go back home. Go and seek!”3

Martin Buber’s version:

Rabbi Bunam used to tell young men who came to him for the first time the story of Rabbi Eisik, son of Rabbi Yekel in Cracow. After many years of great poverty which had never shaken his faith in G-d, he dreamed someone bade him look for a treasure in Prague, under the bridge which leads to the King’s palace. When the dream recurred a third time, Rabbi Eisik prepared for the journey and set out for Prague. But the bridge was guarded day and night and he did not dare to start digging. Nevertheless, he went to the bridge every morning and kept walking around it until evening.

Finally, the captain of the guards, who had been watching him, asked in a kindly way whether he was looking for something or waiting for somebody. Rabbi Eisik told him of the dream which had brought him here from a faraway country. The captain laughed: “And so to please the dream, you poor fellow wore out your shoes to come here! As for having faith in dreams, if I had it, I should have had to get going when a dream once told me to go to Cracow and dig for treasure under the stove in the room of a Jew – Eisik, son of Yekel, that was the name! Eisik, son of Yekel! I can just imagine what it would be like, how I should have to try every house over there, where one half of the Jews are named Eisik, and the other, Yekel!” And he laughed again. Rabbi Eisik bowed, traveled home, dug up the treasure from under the stove, and built the house of prayer which is called “Reb Eisik’s Shul.”4

Another version:

Someone once asked Rabbi Simcha Bunim the following question: “Why do Chassidic avrechim normally leave their families to stay for weeks and months with their ‘Rebbe’ to learn the fear of Heaven from him? Is it impossible, therefore, to learn the fear of Heaven at home with books of Mussar?”

He responded with a story:

“For several nights Rabbi Eizik had dreamed that he should go to Prague and begin digging under the royal bridge, for there he would find a great treasure. Eventually, Rabbi Eizik decided to go to Prague. In arriving there, he went directly to the royal bridge, but at that time he noticed that soldiers were guarding the bridge day and night. He went around it several times, yet he was still fearful of getting close and digging underneath.

“One of the soldiers saw him and asked what he was looking for near the bridge. When Rabbi Eizik told him the story of his dream, the soldier began to mock him and said, ‘I too, I also have an often-occurring dream. I dream that in the town of Krakow there’s a Jew named Rabbi Eizik, the son of Rabbi Yekalis, and that there’s a huge treasure buried under the stove in his home. But only an fool would have faith in the words of a dream.’

“Rabbi Eizik understood that Heaven had sent him to Prague so that the soldier could inform him that he had a great treasure in his house, buried beneath his stove. He went back home, dug underneath it, and there he found a great fortune of gold coins. Rabbi Eizik thus became very wealthy and gave a large amount of tzeddakah to the poor. He also built a synagogue that is known as ‘The Synagogue of Rabbi Eizik the son of Rabbi Yekalis.’ ”

Rabbi Simcha Bunim concluded: “When an avrech goes to the Tzaddik, he realizes that in his home – in his soul – there is a great treasure. If he puts a great deal of effort into digging and searching for this treasure, he will find it, as it is written in the Torah: ‘For the matter is very near to you – in your mouth and your heart – to perform it’ [Deuteronomy 30:14]. It is literally with you.” He also taught his students the following: “The World Above, the World to Come, is also found here in this world, with the Rabbi and the Tzaddik.”

And another:

The great Chassidic Master, Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa, related the parable about a chassid from Cracow, Poland named Reb Eizik who had the same dream every night for a week straight. He dreamed that if he traveled to the city of Prague and dug next to the bridge adjacent to the king’s palace, he would find a priceless treasure. Reb Eizik was so intrigued by the repeated dream that he decided to undertake the journey to dig next to the bridge in Prague.

When he arrived there he was dismayed to see that the bridge was carefully guarded by the king’s soldiers. There was no way they would allow him to dig anywhere in the vicinity of the bridge. Reb Eizik stayed in a nearby inn overnight and came back the next day to see if there was any lapse in the soldier’s shifts when he might be able to quickly dig. But the next day proved no better and Reb Eizik could do nothing more than wander aimlessly near the bridge and contemplate what he would do with the treasure.

After a few days of wandering near the bridge, one of the soldiers demanded to know what he was doing there. Reb Eizik decided to tell the soldier the truth. The soldier burst out laughing. “You silly Jew, are you so naïve to believe in dreams? Why, just last night I had a dream that if I traveled to Cracow and found a Jew there named Eizik, and I dug underneath the oven in his house, I would find a priceless treasure. Do you think I am going to run to Cracow to dig under his oven, because of a silly dream?!”

Reb Eizik was stunned! He had come all the way to Prague to find out that the treasure he was seeking was in his own home. He immediately returned home and dug underneath his oven. Sure enough, he found an incredible treasure buried there. Reb Eizik became instantly wealthy. He used a portion of the money to build the famous, “Eizik Shul” in Krakow.

Rabbi Simcha Bunim noted that people are constantly looking for all sorts of treasures. Some people search for meaning, some people search for blessing, and some people search for G-d. They travel to foreign countries and to remote places, to seek counsel or to discover some novel ‘truth’. But, when all is said and done, the greatest treasure lies in his own backyard. Every person himself holds the key to the greatest blessings and accomplishments if he only recognizes his potential and ability. As the verse states, “It is not in heaven… Nor is it beyond the seas… For it is very close to you; in your heart and in your mouth to accomplish it.”

See also here, here and this dramatized version, embedded in a work of historical fiction.

The truth, however, is that as per a wonderful and utterly delicious compilation of D. L. Ashliman, this is an ancient folktale (Aarne-Thompson-Uther 1645), appearing in numerous cultures (going back at least as far as The Arabian Nights), and variously featuring the locations of Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus, Constantinople, Alexandria, Soffham (Swaffham), Somersetshire, Upsall (in Yorkshire), Ayrshire, the Isle of Man, Balledehob (“about forty miles west of Cork”), Mayo, Limerick, Regensburg, Lübeck, Kempen, Möln, Dordrecht, Krain (“on the Tyrolean border near Wopnitz”), Stall (in the Möll Valley), Innsbruck, Prague, G. in Rinn, Zirl, Erritsø (near Fredericia) and Veile. Sadly, none of the versions feature a Jewish protagonist, although one of the English ones does have an appearance by “a bearded stranger like a Jew”, who deciphers a mysterious “inscription in a language [the protagonist] did not understand”, enabling him to find even more treasure. In the English, Scottish, Irish and Isle of Mannish versions, the bridge, of course, is often London Bridge, and some of the English versions, as well as a Danish one, parallel the R. Bunim account in that the protagonist utilizes his windfall to build or renovate a local church (or a castle in the Scottish version).

The Ruined Man Who Became Rich Again Through a Dream

There lived once in Baghdad a very wealthy man, who lost all his substance and became so poor, that he could only earn his living by excessive labor. One night, he lay down to sleep, dejected and sick at heart, and saw in a dream one who said to him, “Thy fortune is at Cairo; go thither and seek it.”

So he set out for Cairo; but, when he arrived there, night overtook him and he lay down to sleep in a mosque. Presently, as fate would have it, a company of thieves entered the mosque and made their way thence into an adjoining house; but the people of the house, being aroused by the noise, awoke and cried out; whereupon the chief of the police came to their aid with his officers. The robbers made off; but the police entered the mosque and finding the man from Baghdad asleep there, laid hold of him and beat him with palm-rods, till he was well-nigh dead.

Then they cast him into prison, where he abode three days, after which the chief of the police sent for him and said to him, “Whence art thou?”

“From Baghdad,” answered he.

“And what brought thee to Cairo?” asked the magistrate.

Quoth the Baghdadi, “I saw in a dream one who said to me, ‘Thy fortune is at Cairo; go thither to it.’ But when I came hither, the fortune that he promised me proved to be the beating I had of thee.

The chief of the police laughed, till he showed his jaw teeth, and said, “O man of little wit, thrice have I seen in a dream one who said to me, ‘There is in Baghdad a house of such a fashion and situate so-and-so, in the garden whereof is a fountain and thereunder a great sum of money buried. Go thither and take it.’ Yet I went not; but thou, of thy little wit, hast journeyed from place to place, on the faith of a dream, which was but an illusion of sleep.”

Then he gave him money, saying, “This is to help thee back to thy native land.”

Now the house he had described was the man’s own house in Baghdad; so the latter returned thither, and digging underneath the fountain in his garden, discovered a great treasure; and [thus] God gave him abundant fortune.

A Man of Baghdad

An anecdote is told of a man of Baghdad who was in great distress, and who, after calling on God for aid, dreamt that a great treasure lay hid in a certain spot in Egypt. He accordingly journeyed to Egypt, and there fell into the hands of the patrol, who arrested him, and beat him severely on suspicion of being a thief.

Calling to mind the proverb that “falsehood is a mischief but truth a remedy,” he determined to confess the true reason of his coming to Egypt, and accordingly told them all the particulars of his dream.

On hearing them they believed him, and one of them said, “You must be a fool to journey all this distance merely on the faith of a dream. I myself have many times dreamt of a treasure lying hid in a certain spot in Baghdad, but was never foolish enough to go there.”

Now the spot in Baghdad named by this person was none other than the house of the poor man of Baghdad, and he straightway returned home, and there found the treasure.

Numan’s Dream

There was of old time in the city of Cairo a man called Numan, and he had a son. One day when this boy’s time to learn to read was fully come he took him to a school and gave to a teacher. This Numan was exceeding poor, so that he followed the calling of a water seller, and in this way he supported his wife and child.

When the teacher had made the boy read through the Koran, he told the boy to fetch him his present. So the boy came and told his father.

His father said, “O son, the Koran is the Word of God Most High, we have nothing worthy of it; there is our camel with which I follow my trade of water seller, take it at least and give it to thy teacher.”

The boy took the camel and brought it to his teacher. But that day his father could gain no money, and that night his wife and his son and himself remained hungry.

Now his wife was a great scold, and when she saw this thing she said, “Out on thee, husband, art thou mad? Where are thy senses gone? Thou hadst a camel, and by means of it we made shift to live, and now thou hast taken and given it in a present; would that that boy had not been born, or that thou hadst not sent him to read; what is he and what his reading?’

And she made so much noise and clamor that it cannot be described. Numan saw this thing, and he bowed down his head, and from the greatness of his distress he fell asleep.

In his dream a radiant elder, white-bearded and clad in white raiment, came and said, “O Numan, thy portion is in Damascus; go, take it.”

Just then Numan awoke and he saw no one, and he arose and said, “Is the vision divine or is it satanic?”

While saying this, he again fell asleep, and again he saw it. Brief, the elder appeared three times to him that night in his dream and said, “Indeed is thy provision in Damascus; delay not, go to Damascus and take it.”

When it was morning Numan spake to his wife of the vision; his wife said, “Thou gavest away our camel and didst leave us hungry, and now thou canst not abide our complaints and wishest to run off; I fear thou wilt leave thy child and me here and go off.”

Numan said, “My life, I will not run off.”

Quoth the woman, “I will not bide, I will not bide; where thou goest I too will go with thee.”

Numan sware that he would not run off, and the woman was persuaded and let him go.

So Numan went forth; and one day he entered Damascus, and he went in through the gate of the Amawi Mosque. That day someone had baked bread in an oven and was taking it to his house; when he saw Numan opposite him and knew him to be a stranger, he gave him a loaf. Numan took it and ate it, and lay down through fatigue and fell asleep.

That elder again came to him in his vision and said, “0 Numan, thou hast received thy provision; delay not, go back to thy house.”

Numan awoke and was amazed and said, “Then our bearing this much trouble and weariness was for a loaf.”

And he returned. One day he entered his house, and the woman looked and saw there was nothing in his hand; and Numan told her.

When the woman learned that Numan had brought nothing, she turned and said, “Out on thee, husband, thou art become mad, thou art a worthless man; had thy senses been in thy head, thou hadst not given away our camel, the source of our support, and left us thus friendless and hungry and thirsty; not a day but thou doest some mad thing.”

And she complained much. And Numan’s heart was broken by the weariness of the road and the complaining of the woman, and he fell asleep.

Again in his vision that elder came and said, “O Numan, delay not, arise, dig close by thee, thy provision is there, take it.”

But Numan heeded not. Three times the elder appeared to him in his dream and said, “Thy provision is indeed close by thee; arise, take it.”

So Numan, unable to resist, arose and took a pick-axe and shovel and began to dig where his head had lain.

The woman made mock of Numan and said, “Out on thee, man; the half of the treasure revealed to thee is mine.”

Numan replied, “So be it; but I am weary, come thou and dig a bit that I may take breath a little.”

The woman said, “Thou art not weary now; when thou art weary I will help.”

Numan went on: and when he had dug as deep as half the height of a man, a marble slab appeared. The woman saw the marble and, saying in herself, “This is not empty,” she asked the pick-axe from Numan.

Numan said, “Have patience a little longer.”

The woman said, “Thou art weary.”

Numan replied, “Now am I rested.”

Quoth the woman, “I am sorry for thee, thou dost not know kindness.”

While thus talking they saw that one side of that marble was pierced and that there was a hole. Thereupon grew Numan eager, and he pulled the marble from its place, and below it was a well and a ladder. He caught hold of the ladder and went down and saw a royal vase filled full with red gold, and he called out to the woman, “Come here.”

Thereupon the woman descended likewise and saw the vase of gold, and she threw her arms round Numan’s neck and said, “O my noble little husband! Blessed be God, for thy luck and thy fortune.”

Numan took up some of these sequins, and the woman said, “What wilt thou do?”

Numan replied, “I shall take these to our king and tell him that there is a vase full of them, and that an elder came to me in my dream and told me, and I shall say, ‘Take them all; and, if thou wilt, bestow on me a few of them that I and my wife may eat and drink, and in our comfort may bless and praise thee.'”

Quoth the woman, “My life, husband, speak not to our king now, so that all of them may remain ours and we shall have ease of heart.”

Numan listened not, but took them and laid them before the king.

The king said, “What is this?”

Numan answered, “O king, I found them in thy ground.” And he told of the elder’s coming in his dream and of there being a vase full of them, and said, “O king, send a slave of thine, and he will return; and I shall accept the king’s alms, whatever it may be.”

The king said to a scribe, “Come, read this, let us see from whose time it has remained.”

When the scribe took the sequin into his hand he saw that there was written on the one side of it, “This is an alms from before God to Numan.” Then the scribe turned over the other side and saw that it was thus written on that side, “By reason of his respect toward the Koran.”

When the scribe had read the inscriptions to the king, the king said, “What is thy name?”

He replied, “My name is Numan.”

The king caused all these sequins to be read, and the writing on the whole of them was the same.

The king said, “Go ye and bring some from the bottom of the vase.”

And they went and brought some from the bottom of the vase, and they read them, and they all bore the inscription of the first. And the king wondered and said, “Go, poor man, God Most High has given it thee, on my part too be it lawful for thee; come, take these sequins also.”

So Numan took them and went to his house, and he took out the sequins that were in the vase; and he enjoyed delight in the world until he died, and in the hereafter he attained a lofty station. And all this felicity was for his respect to the glorious Koran.

How the Junkman Traveled to Find Treasure in His Own Yard

In one of the towers overlooking the Sea of Marmora and skirting the ancient city of Stamboul, there lived an old junkman, who earned a precarious livelihood in gathering cinders and useless pieces of iron, and selling them to smiths.

Often did he moralize on the sad Kismet that had reduced him to the task of daily laboring for his bread to make a shoe, perhaps for an ass. Surely he, a true Muslim, might at least be permitted to ride the ass. His eternal longing often found satisfaction in passing his hours of sleep in dreams of wealth and luxury. But with the dawning of the day came reality and increased longing.

Often did he call on the spirit of sleep to reverse matters, but in vain; with the rising of the sun began the gathering of the cinders and iron. One night he dreamt that he begged this nocturnal visitor to change his night to day, and the spirit said to him, “Go to Egypt, and it shall be so.”

This encouraging phrase haunted him by day and inspired him by night. So persecuted was he with the thought that when his wife said to him, from the door, “Have you brought home any bread?” he would reply, “No, I have not gone; I will go tomorrow; ” thinking she had asked him, ” Have you gone to Egypt?”

At last, when friends and neighbors began to pity poor Ahmet, for that was his name, as a man on whom the hand of Allah was heavily laid, removing his intelligence, he one morning left his house, saying, “I go! I go! to the land of wealth!” And he left his wife wringing her hands in despair, while the neighbors tried to comfort her. Poor Ahmet went straight on board a boat which he had been told was bound for Iskender (Alexandria), and assured the captain that he was summoned thither, and that he was bound to take him. Half-witted and mad persons being more holy than others, Ahmet was conveyed to Iskender.

Arriving in Iskender, Hadji Ahmet roamed far and wide, proceeding as far as Cairo, in search of the luxuries he had enjoyed at Constantinople when in the land of Morpheus, which he had been promised to enjoy in the sunshine, if he came to Egypt. Alas! for Hadji Ahmet; the only bread he had to eat was that which was given him by sympathizing humanity. Time sped on, sympathy was growing tired of expending itself on Hadji Ahmet, and his crusts of bread were few and far between.

Wearied of life and suffering, he decided to ask Allah to let him die, and wandering out to the pyramids he solicited the stones to have pity and fall on him. It happened that a Turk heard this prayer, and said to him, “Why so miserable, father? Has your soul been so strangled that you prefer its being dashed out of your body, to its remaining the prescribed time in bondage?”

“Yes, my son,” said Hadji Ahmet. “Far away in Stamboul, with the help of God, I managed as a junkman to feed my wife and myself; but here am I, in Egypt, a stranger, alone and starving, with possibly my wife already dead of starvation, and all this through a dream.”

“Alas! Alas! my father! that you at your age should be tempted to wander so far from home and friends, because of a dream. Why, were I to obey my dreams, I would at this present moment be in Stamboul, digging for a treasure that lies buried under a tree. I can even now, although I have never been there, describe where it is. In my mind’s eye I see a wall, a great wall, that must have been built many years ago, and supporting or seeming to support this wall are towers with many corners, towers that are round, towers that are square, and others that have smaller towers within them. In one of these towers, a square one, there live an old man and woman, and close by the tower is a large tree, and every night when I dream of the place, the old man tells me to dig and disclose the treasure. But, father, I am not such a fool as to go to Stamboul and seek to verify this. It is an oft-repeated dream and nothing more. See what you have been reduced to by coming so far.”

“Yes,” said Hadji Ahmet, “it is a dream and nothing more, but you have interpreted it. Allah be praised, you have encouraged me; I will return to my home.” And Hadji Ahmet and the young stranger parted, the one grateful that it had pleased Allah to give him the power to revive and encourage a drooping spirit, and the other grateful to Allah that when he had despaired of life a stranger should come and give him the interpretation of his dream. He certainly had wandered far and long to learn that the treasure was in his own garden.

Hadji Ahmet in due course, much to the astonishment of both wife and neighbors, again appeared upon the scene not a much changed man. In fact, he was the cinder and iron gatherer of old.

To all questions as to where he was and what he had been doing, he would answer, “A dream sent me away, and a dream brought me back.”

And the neighbors would say, “Truly he must be blessed.”

One night Hadji Ahmet went to the tree, provided with spade and pick, that he had secured from an obliging neighbor. After digging a short time a heavy case was brought to view, in which he found gold, silver, and precious jewels of great value. Hadji Ahmet replaced the case and earth and returned to bed, much lamenting that it had pleased God to furnish women, more especially his wife, with a long tongue, long hair, and very short wits. “Alas!” he thought, “If I tell my wife, I may be hung as a robber, for it is against the laws of nature for a woman to keep a secret.”

Yet, becoming more generous when thinking of the years of toil and hardship she had shared with him, he decided to try and see if, by chance, his wife was not an exception to other women. Who knows, she might keep the secret. To test her, at no risk to himself and the treasure, he conceived a plan.

Crawling from his bed, he sallied forth and bought, found, or stole an egg. This egg on the following morning he showed to his wife, and said to her, “Alas! I fear I am not as other men, for evidently in the night I laid this egg; and, wife mine, if the neighbors hear of this, your husband, the long-suffering Hadji Ahmet, will be bastinadoed, bowstrung, and burned to death. Ah, truly, my soul is strangled.”

And without another word Hadji Ahmet, with a sack on his shoulder, went forth to gather the cast-off shoes of horse, ox, or ass, wondering if his wife would prove an exception in this, as she had in many other ways, to other women.

In the evening he returned, heavily laden with his finds, and as he neared home he heard rumors, ominous rumors, that a certain Hadji Ahmet, who had been considered a holy man, had done something that was unknown in the history of man, even in the history of hens: that he had laid a dozen eggs.

Needless to add that Hadji Ahmet did not tell his wife of the treasure, but daily went forth with his sack to gather iron and cinders, and invariably found, when separating his finds of the day, in company with his wife, at first one, and then more gold and silver pieces, and now and then a precious stone.

The Peddler of Swaffham

Constant tradition says that there lived in former times in Soffham (Swaffham), alias Sopham, in Norfolk, a certain peddler, who dreamed that if he went to London Bridge, and stood there, he should hear very joyful news, which he at first slighted, but afterwards, his dream being doubled and trebled upon him, he resolved to try the issue of it, and accordingly went to London, and stood on the bridge there two or three days, looking about him, but heard nothing that might yield him any comfort.

At last it happened that a shopkeeper there, hard by, having noted his fruitless standing, seeing that he neither sold any wares nor asked any alms, went to him and most earnestly begged to know what he wanted there, or what his business was; to which the peddler honestly answered that he had dreamed that if he came to London and stood there upon the bridge he should hear good news; at which the shopkeeper laughed heartily, asking him if he was such a fool as to take a journey on such a silly errand, adding, “I’ll tell you, country fellow, last night I dreamed that I was at Sopham, in Norfolk, a place utterly unknown to me where I thought that behind a peddler’s house in a certain orchard, and under a great oak tree, if I dug I should find a vast treasure! Now think you,” says he, “that I am such a fool to take such a long journey upon me upon the instigation of a silly dream? No, no. I’m wiser. Therefore, good fellow, learn wit from me, and get you home, and mind your business.”

The peddler observing his words, what he had said he dreamed, and knowing they concerned him, glad of such joyful news, went speedily home, and dug and found a prodigious great treasure, with which he grew exceeding rich; and Soffham (Church) being for the most part fallen down, he set on workmen and rectified it most sumptuously, at his own charges; and to this day there is his statue therein, but in stone, with his pack at his back and his dog at his heels; and his memory is also preserved by the same form or picture in most of the old glass windows, taverns, and alehouses of that town unto this day.

The Swaffham Legend

Swaffham Church, noted for its architectural beauties, has furnished material for a legend worth recording. According to tradition, the entire expense of erecting this noble edifice was defrayed by a tinker or pedlar residing in the parish named John Chapman, who, if the voice of the legend is to be believed, was marvelously provided for by Divine Providence.

It is said that this tinker dreamed that if he went to London Bridge he would, to use the phraseology of a certain class of advertisements, “hear of something greatly to his advantage.”

Nothing daunted by the difficulties of so long a journey five hundred years ago, when, not to utter a hint of railroads, even stage coaches had not been invented, the tinker heeded the voice of his good spirit, and went to London. After standing about the bridge for several hours — some versions of the legend mention the traditional three days — a man accosted him, and invited him to unfold the nature of his errand.

With candor quite equal to his faith, John Chapman replied that he came there on the “vain errand of a dream.”

Now it appears that the stranger was a dreamer also, but, unlike the tinker, he was neither superstitious nor imprudent. “Alas! good friend,” said he, “if I had heeded dreams, I might have proved myself as very a fool as thou art, for ’tis not long since I dreamt that at a place called Swaffham in Norfolk dwelt John Chapman, a pedlar, who hath a tree at the back of his house, under which is buried a pot of money.”

John Chapman, of course, on hearing this hastened home, dug under his tree, and very soon found the treasure. But not all of it. The box that he found had a Latin inscription on the lid, which of course John Chapman could not decipher. But though unlettered, he was not without craftiness and a certain kind of wisdom, so in the hope that some unsuspicious wayfarer might read the inscriptiou in his hearing, he placed it in his window.

It was not long before he heard some youths turn the Latin sentence into an English couplet:

Under me doth lie
Another much richer than I.

Again he went to work, digging deeper than before, and found a much richer treasure, than the former.

With a heart overflowing with gratitude for his good fortune, the tinker shortly afterwards, when the inhabitants of Swaffham wished to re-edify their church, astonished the whole town by offering to defray the expense of a large portion of the works.

On the ends of the oaken bench nearest the pulpit, there is the carved effigy of John Chapman on one side and that of his dog on the other, and this is sufficient to establish the truth of the legend in the minds of the credulous of the district.

A Cobbler in Someretshire

A cobbler in Somersetshire dreamt that a person told him that if he would go to London Bridge he would meet with something to his advantage. He dreamt the same the next night, and again the night after. He then determined to go to London Bridge, and walked thither accordingly.

When arrived there, he walked about the whole of the first day without anything occurring; the next day was passed in a similar manner. He resumed his place the third day, and walked about till evening, when, giving it up as hopeless, he determined to leave London, and return home.

At this moment a stranger came up and said to him, “I have seen you for the last three days walking up and down this bridge; may I ask if you are waiting for anyone?”

The answer was, “No.”

“Then, what is your object in staying here?”

The cobbler then frankly told his reason for being there, and the dream that had visited him three successive nights.

The stranger then advised him to go home again to his work, and no more pay any attention to dreams. “I myself,” he said “had about six months ago a dream. I dreamt three nights together that, if I would go into Somersetshire, in an orchard, under an apple tree, I should find a pot of gold; but I paid no attention to my dream, and have remained quietly at my business.”

It immediately occurred to the cobbler that the stranger described his own orchard and his own apple tree. He immediately returned home, dug under the apple tree, and found a pot of gold.

After this increase of fortune, he was enabled to send his son to school, where the boy learnt Latin. When he came home for the holidays, he one day examined the pot which had contained the gold, on which was some writing. He said, “Father, I can show you what I have learnt at school is of some use.”

He then translated the Latin inscription on the pot thus: “Look under, and you will find better.”

They did look under, and a larger quantity of gold was found.

Upsall Castle

Many years ago there resided in the village of Upsall a man who dreamed three nights successively that if he went to London Bridge he would hear of something greatly to his advantage. He went, traveling the whole distance from Upsall to London on foot. Arrived there, he took his station on the bridge, where he waited till his patience was nearly exhausted, and the idea that he had acted a very foolish part began to arise in his mind.

At length he was accosted by a Quaker, who kindly inquired what he was waiting there so long for. After some hesitation, he told his dreams. The Quaker laughed at his simplicity, and told him that he had had that night a very curious dream himself, which was, that if he went and dug under a certain bush in Upsall Castle in Yorkshire, he would find a pot of gold; but he did not know where Upsall was, and inquired of the countryman if he knew, who, seeing some advantage in secrecy, pleaded ignorance of the locality; and then, thinking his business in London was completed, returned immediately home, dug beneath the bush, and there he found a pot filled with gold, and on the cover an inscription in a language he did not understand.

The pot and cover were, however, preserved at the village inn, where one day a bearded stranger like a Jew made his appearance, saw the pot, and read the inscription, the plain English of which was:

Look lower, where this stood
Is another twice as good.

The man of Upsall, hearing this, resumed his spade, returned to the bush, dug deeper, and found another pot filled with gold far more valuable than the first. Encouraged by this, he dug deeper still, and found another yet more valuable.

This story has been related of other places, but Upsall appears to have as good a claim to this yielding of hidden treasure as the best of them. Here we have the constant tradition of the inhabitants, and the identical bush still remains beneath which the treasure was found — an elder near the northwest corner of the ruins.

Dundonald Castle

In Ayrshire, the following rhyme is prevalent, and is probably very old:

Donald Din
Built his house without a pin,

alluding to Dundonald Castle, the ancient seat of King Robert II, and now the last remaining property in Ayrshire of the noble family who take their title from it. According to tradition, it was built by a hero named Donald Din, or Din Donald, and constructed entirely of stone, without the use of wood, a supposition countenanced by the appearance of the building, which consists of three distinct stories, arched over with strong stonework, the roof of one forming the floor of another.

Donald, the builder, was originally a poor man, but had the faculty of dreaming lucking dreams. Upon one occasion he dreamed, thrice in one night, that if he were to go to London Bridge, he would become a wealthy man. He went accordingly, saw a man looking over the parapet of the bridge, whom he accosted courteously, and, after a little conversation, entrusted with the secret of the occasion of his coming to London Bridge.

The stranger told him that he had made a very foolish errand, for he himself had once had a similar vision, which direct him to go to a certain spot in Ayrshire, in Scotland, where he would find a vast treasure, and, for his part, he had never once thought of obeying the injunction.

From his description of the spot, the sly Scotsman at once perceived that the treasure in question must be concealed in no other place than his own humble kail-yard [cabbage patch] at home, to which he immediately repaired, in full expectation of finding it. Nor was he disappointed; for, after destroying many good and promising cabbages, and completely cracking credit with his wife, who esteemed him mad, he found a large potful of gold coin, with the proceeds of which he built a stout castle for himself, and became the founder of a flourishing family.


There was a man once in the Isle of Man who met one of the Little Fellows, and the Little Fellow told him that if he would go to London Bridge and dig, he would find a fortune. So he went, and when he got there he began to dig, and another man came to him and said, “What are you doing?”

“One of Themselves told me to come to London Bridge and I would get a fortune,” says he.

And the other man said, “I dreamed that I was back in the lil’ islan’ an’ I was at a house with a thorn tree at the chimley of it, and if I would dig there I would find a fortune. But I wouldn’ go, for it was only foolishness.”

Then he told him so plainly about the house that the first man knew it was his own, so he went back to the Island. When he got home he dug under the little thorn tree by the chimney and he found an iron box. He opened the box, and it was full of gold, and there was a letter in it, but he could not read the letter because it was in a foreign language. So he put it in the smithy window and challenged any scholar who went by to read it. None of them could, but at last one big boy said it was Latin and it meant, “Dig again and you’ll find another.”

So the man dug again under the thorn tree, and what did he find but another iron box full of gold! And from that day till the day of his death, that man used to open the front door before going to bed, and call out, “My blessing with the Little Fellows!”

Dreaming Tim Jarvis

Timothy Jarvis was a decent, honest, quiet, hard-working man, as every body knows that knows Balledehob.

Now Balledehob is a small place, about forty miles west of Cork. It is situated on the summit of a hill, and yet it is in a deep valley; for on all sides there are lofty mountains that rise one above another in barren grandeur, and seem to look down with scorn upon the little busy village, which they surround with their idle and unproductive magnificence. Man and beast have alike deserted them to the dominion of the eagle, who soars majestically over them. On the highest of those mountains there is a small, and as is commonly believed, unfathomable lake, the only inhabitant of which is a huge serpent, who has been sometimes seen to stretch its enormous head above the waters, and frequently is heard to utter a noise which shakes the very rocks to their foundation.

But, as I was saying, everybody knew Tim Jarvis to be a decent, honest, quiet, hard-working man, who was thriving enough to be able to give his daughter Nelly a fortune of ten pounds; and Tim himself would have been snug enough besides, but that he loved the drop sometimes. However, he was seldom backward on rent day.

His ground was never distrained but twice, and both times through a small bit of a mistake; and his landlord had never but once to say to him, “Tim Jarvis, you’re all behind, Tim, like the cow’s tail.”

Now it so happened that, being heavy in himself, through the drink, Tim took to sleeping, and the sleep set Tim dreaming, and he dreamed all night, and night after night, about crocks full of gold and other precious stones; so much so, that Norah Jarvis his wife could get no good of him by day, and have little comfort with him by night. The grey dawn of the morning would see Tim digging away in a bog-hole, maybe, or rooting under some old stone walls like a pig. At last he dreamt that he found a mighty great crock of gold and silver, and where, do you think? Every step of the way upon London Bridge, itself! Twice Tim dreamt it, and three times Tim dreamt the same thing; and at last he made up his mind to transport himself, and go over to London, in Pat Mahoney’s coaster; and so he did!

Well, he got there, and found the bridge without much difficulty. Every day he walked up and down looking for the crock of gold, but never the find did he find it. One day, however, as he was looking over the bridge into the water, a man, or something like a man, with great black whiskers, like a Hessian, and a black cloak that reached down to the ground, taps him on the shoulder, and says he, “Tim Jarvis, do you see me?”

“Surely I do, sir,” said Tim; wondering that anybody should know him in the strange place.

“Tim,” says he, “what is it brings you here in foreign parts, so far away from your own cabin by the mine of grey copper at Balledehob?”

“Please your honor,” says Tim, “I’m come to seek my fortune.”

“You’re a fool for your pains, Tim, if that’s all,” remarked the stranger in the black cloak; “this is a big place to seek one’s fortune in, to be sure, but it’s not so easy to find it.”

Now, Tim, after debating a long time with himself, and considering, in the first place, that it might be the stranger who was to find the crock of gold for him; and in the next, that the stranger might direct him where to find it, came to the resolution of telling him all.

“There’s many a one like me comes here seeking their fortunes,” said Tim.

“True,” said the stranger.

“But,” continued Tim, looking up, “the body and bones of the cause for myself leaving the woman, and Nelly, and the boys, and traveling so far, is to look for a crock of gold that I’m told is lying somewhere hereabouts.”

“And who told you that, Tim?”

“Why, then, sir, that’s what I can’t tell myself rightly; only I dreamt it.”

“Ho, ho! is that all, Tim?” said the stranger, laughing; “I had a dream myself; and I dreamed that I found a crock of gold, in the fort field, on Jerry Driscoll’s ground at Balledehob; and by the same token, the pit where it lay was close to a large furze bush, all full of yellow blossom.”

Tim knew Jerry Driscoll’s ground well; and, moreover, he knew the fort field as well as he knew his own potato garden; he was certain, too, of the very furze bush at the north end of it. So, swearing a bitter big oath, says he, “By all the crosses in a yard of check, I always thought there was money in that same field!”

The moment he rapped out the oath the stranger disappeared, and Tim Jarvis, wondering at all that had happened to him, made the best of his way back to Ireland. Norah, as may well be supposed, had no very warm welcome for her runaway husband — the dreaming blackguard, as she called him — and so soon as she set eyes upon him, all the blood of her body in one minute was into her knuckles to be at him; but Tim, after his long journey, looked so cheerful and so happy-like, that she could not find it in her heart to give him the first blow!

He managed to pacify his wife by two or three broad hints about a new cloak and a pair of shoes, that, to speak honestly, were much wanting to her to go to chapel in; and decent clothes for Nelly to go to the patron with her sweetheart, and brogues for the boys, and some corduroy for himself.

“It wasn’t for nothing,” says Tim, “I went to foreign parts all the ways; and you’ll see what’ll come out of it — mind my words.”

A few days afterwards Tim sold his cabin and his garden, and bought the fort field of Jerry Driscoll, that had nothing in it, but was full of thistles, and old stones, and blackberry bushes; and all the neighbors — as well they might — thought he was cracked!

The first night that Tim could summon courage to begin his work, he walked off to the field with his spade upon his shoulder; and away he dug all night by the side of the furze bush, till he came to a big stone. He struck his spade against it, and he heard a hollow sound; but as the morning had begun to dawn, and the neighbors would be going out to their work, Tim, not wishing to have the thing talked about, went home to the little hovel, where Norah and the children were huddled together under a heap of straw; for he had sold everything he had in the world to purchase Driscoll’s field, that was said to be “the back-bone of the world, picked by the devil.”

It is impossible to describe the epithets and reproaches bestowed by the poor woman on her unlucky husband for bringing her into such a way. Epithets and reproaches which Tim had but one mode of answering, as thus: “Norah, did you see e’er a cow you’d like?” — or, “Norah, dear, hasn’t Poll Deasy a featherbed to sell?” — or, “Norah, honey, wouldn’t you like your silver buckles as big as Mrs. Doyle’s?”

As soon as night came Tim stood beside the furze bush spade in hand. The moment he jumped down into the pit he heard a strange rumbling noise under him, and so, putting his ear against the great stone, he listened, and overheard a discourse that made the hair on his head stand up like bulrushes, and every limb tremble.

“How shall we bother Tim?” said one voice.

“Take him to the mountain, to be sure, and make him a toothful for the old serpent; ’tis long since he has had a good meal,” said another voice.

Tim shook like a potato blossom in a storm.

“No,” said a third voice; “plunge him in the bog, neck and heels.”

Tim was a dead man, barring the breath.

“Stop!” said a fourth; but Tim heard no more, for Tim was dead entirely. In about an hour, however, the life came back into him, and he crept home to Norah.

When the next night arrived the hopes of the crock of gold got the better of his fears, and takings care to arm himself with a bottle of potheen, away he went to the field. Jumping into the pit, he took a little sup from the bottle to keep his heart up — he then took a big one — and then, with desperate wrench, he wrenched up the stone. All at once, up rushed a blast of wind, wild and fierce, and down fell Tim — down, down, and down he went — until he thumped upon what seemed to be, for all the world, like a floor of sharp pins, which made him bellow out in earnest. Then he heard a whisk and a hurra, and instantly voices beyond number cried out:

Welcome, Tim Jarvis, dear!

Welcome, down here!”

Though Tim’s teeth chattered like magpies with the fright, he continued to make answer: “I’m he-he-har-ti-ly ob-ob-liged to-to you all, gen-gentlemen, fo-for your civility to-to a poor stranger like myself.”

But though he had heard all the voices about him, he could see nothing, the place was so dark and so lonesome in itself for want of the light. Then something pulled Tim by the hair of his head, and dragged him, he did not know how far, but he knew he was going faster than the wind, for he heard it behind him, trying to keep up with him, and it could not.

On, on, on, he went, till all at once, and suddenly, he was stopped, and somebody came up to him, and said, “Well, Tim Jarvis, and how do you like your ride?”

“Mighty well! I thank your honor,” said Tim; “and ’twas a good beast I rode, surely!”

There was a great laugh at Tim’s answer; and then there was a whispering, and a great cugger mugger, and coshering; and at last a pretty little bit of a voice said, “Shut your eyes, and you’ll see, Tim.”

“By my word, then,” said Tim, “that is the queer way of seeing; but I’m not the man to gainsay you, so I’ll do as you bid me, any how.”

Presently he felt a small warm hand rubbed over his eyes with an ointment, and in the next minute he saw himself in the middle of thousands of little men and women, not half so high as his brogue, that were pelting one another with golden guineas and lily-white thirteens, as if they were so much dirt.

The finest dressed and the biggest of them all went up to Tim, and says he, “Tim Jarvis, because you are a decent, honest, quiet, civil, well-spoken man,” says he, “and know how to behave yourself in strange company, we’ve altered our minds about you, and will find a neighbor of yours that will do just as well to give to the old serpent.”

“Oh, then, long life to you, sir!” said Tim, “and there’s no doubt of that.”

“But what will you say, Tim,” inquired the little fellow, “if we fill your pockets with these yellow boys? What will you say, Tim, and what will you do with them?”

“Your honor’s honor, and your honor’s glory,” answered Tim, “I’ll not be able to say my prayers for one month with thanking you — and indeed I’ve enough to do with them. I’d make a grand lady, you see, at once of Norah — she has been a good wife to me. We’ll have a nice bit of pork for dinner; and, maybe, I’d have a glass, or maybe two glasses; or sometimes, if ’twas with a friend, or acquaintance, or gossip, you know, three glasses every day; and I’d build a new cabin; and I’d have a fresh egg every morning, myself, for my breakfast; and I’d snap my fingers at the ‘squire, and beat his hounds, if they’d come coursing through my fields; and I’d have a new plow; and Norah, your honor, should have a new cloak, and the boys should have shoes and stockings as well as Biddy Leary’s brats — that’s my sister what was — and Nelly should marry Bill Long of Affadown; and, your honor, I’d have some corduroy for myself to make breeches, and a cow, and a beautiful coat with shining buttons, and a horse to ride, or maybe two. I’d have every thing,” said Tim, “in life, good or bad, that is to be got for love or money — hurra-whoop! — and that’s what I’d do.”

“Take care, Tim,” said the little fellow, “your money would not go faster than it came, with your hurra-whoop.”

But Tim heeded not this speech: heaps of gold were around him, and he filled and filled away as hard as he could, his coat and his waistcoat and his breeches pockets; and he thought himself very clever, moreover, because he stuffed some of the guineas into his brogues. When the little people perceived this, they cried out, “Go home, Tim Jarvis, go home, and think yourself a lucky man.”

“I hope, gentlemen,” said he, “we won’t part for good and all; but maybe ye’ll ask me to see you again, and to give you a fair and square account of what I’ve done with your money.”

To this there was no answer, only another shout, “Go home, Tim Jarvis; go home; fair play is a jewel; but shut your eyes, or ye’ll never see the light of day again.”

Tim shut his eyes, knowing now that was the way to see clearly; and away he was whisked as before — away, away he went ’till he again stopped all of a sudden.

He rubbed his eyes with his two thumbs — and where was he? — Where, but in the very pit in the field that was Jer Driscoll’s, and his wife Norah above with a big stick ready to beat “her dreaming blackguard.” Tim roared out to the woman to leave the life in him, and put his hands in his pockets to show her the gold; but he pulled out nothing only a handful of small stones mixed with yellow furze blossoms. The bush was under him, and the great flag-stone that he had wrenched up, as he thought, was lying, as if it was never stirred, by his side: the whiskey bottle was drained to the last drop; and the pit was just as his spade had made it.

Tim Jarvis, vexed, disappointed, and almost heart-broken, followed his wife home; and, strange to say, from that night he left off drinking, and dreaming, and delving in bog-holes, and rooting in old caves. He took again to his hard working habits, and was soon able to buy back his little cabin and former potato garden, and to get all the enjoyment he anticipated from the fairy gold.

Give Tim one or, at most, two glasses of whiskey punch (and neither friend, acquaintance, or gossip can make him take more), and he. will relate the story to you much better than you have it here. Indeed it is worth going to Balledehob to hear him tell it.

He always pledges himself to the truth of every word with his forefingers crossed; and when he comes to speak of the loss of his guineas, he never fails to console himself by adding: “If they stayed with me I wouldn’t have luck with them, sir; and father O’Shea told me ’twas as well for me they were changed, for if they hadn’t, they’d have burned holes in my pocket, and got out that way.”

I shall never forget his solemn countenance, and the deep tones of his warning voice, when he concluded his tale, by telling me, that the next day after his ride with the fairies, Mick Dowling was missing, and he believed him to be given to the serpent in his place, as he had never been heard of since. “The blessing of the saints be between all good men and harm,” was the concluding sentence of Tim Jarvis’s narrative, as he flung the remaining drops from his glass upon the green sward.

The Dream of Treasure under the Bridge at Limerick

I heard of a man from Mayo went to Limerick, and walked two or three times across the bridge there. And a cobbler that was sitting on the bridge took notice of him, and knew by the look of him and by the clothes he wore that he was from Mayo, and asked him what was he looking for. And he said he had a dream that under the bridge of Limerick he’d find treasure.

“Well,” says the cobbler, “I had a dream myself about finding treasure, but in another sort of a place than this.” And he described the place where he dreamed it was, and where was that, but in the Mayo man’s own garden.

So he went home again, and sure enough, there he found a pot of gold with no end of riches in it. But I never heard that the cobbler found anything under the bridge at Limerick.

The Dream of the Treasure on the Bridge

Some time ago a man dreamed that he should go to the bridge at Regensburg where he would become rich. He went there, and after spending some fourteen days there a wealthy merchant, who wondered why was spending so much time on the bridge, approached him and asked him what he was doing there.

The latter answered, “I dreamed that I was to go to the bridge at Regensburg, where I would become rich.”

“What?” said the merchant, “You came here because of a dream? Dreams are fantasies and lies. Why I myself dreamed that there is a large pot of gold buried beneath that large tree over there.” And he pointed to the tree. “But I paid no attention, for dreams are fantasies.”

Then the visitor went and dug beneath the tree, where he found a great treasure that made him rich, and thus his dream was confirmed.

Agricola adds: “I have often heard this from my dear father.”

This legend is also told about other cities, for example about Lübeck (or Kempen), where a baker’s servant dreams that he will find a treasure on the bridge. Upon going there and walking back and forth, a beggar speaks to him, telling how he has dreamed that a treasure lies beneath a linden tree in the churchyard at Möln (or at Dordrecht beneath a bush) but that he is not about to go there.

The baker’s servant answers, “Yes, dreams are often nothing but foolishness. I will give my bridge-treasure to you.”

With that he departed and dug up the treasure from beneath the linden tree.

The Dream of Treasure

On the Tyrolean border near Wopnitz there lived a peasant from Krain whose name was Japnig. His domestic situation had fallen to the point that he feared his few remaining goods would be confiscated by the authorities.

One night he dreamed he should go to Stall in the Möll Valley, and, according to the dream, he would find a treasure on his way there. Japnig found this dream very striking, so he set forth immediately. Underway he met an old invalid on a bridge, who, as is customary asked him how far he was going.

“To Stall,” answered the peasant, then added, “And you?”

“I don’t know” answered the invalid, “I have neither home nor money.”

This all-too-frequent topic of conversation gave the two common ground, and they complained to one another about their hard times. Finally the peasant told the old soldier about his dream.

The latter laughed into his face and said, “Anyone can dream about treasure. I myself have dreamed three times that there was a treasure in the hearth of someone named Japnig, or was it Havenot — have you ever heard such a horrible name? What good is this to me? Do I even know if such a fellow exists? Dreams are foam.”

Japnig was right startled to hear his name. He became still as a mouse, then said farewell to the soldier.

He did not go to Stall, but after a small detour returned immediately to his home in Wopnitz, where he forthwith began to tear apart his hearth. His wife thought that he had gone mad, but mortared into the hearth he found a pot filled with thalers, which solved all of Japnig’s difficulties.

According to another legend, Japnig walked all the way to the bridge at Prague where he met the old soldier. That would have been a great distance, but this frequently told legend always features a bridge, with the favorites being at Innsbruck, Regensburg, or Prague.

The Dream of the Zirl Bridge

It was not going well for the peasant of G. in Rinn, and his shoes pinched him on all sides. Once he dreamed that he should go to the bridge at Zirl where he would discover something important. After having the same dream the following night he shared this information with his wife and declared that he wanted to go to Zirl.

But his old woman would not allow this, saying, “Why do you want to waste an entire day and wear out your shoes for nothing? You will not have as much as a green twig to show for yourself!”

So he remained unhappily at home, but behold, the next night he had exactly the same dream again. He arose very early and hurried to Zirl. At sunrise he was already standing by the bridge there. After walking back and forth for a quarter hour, he was approached by a goat herder who wished him a good morning, then drove his herd onward. He did not see anyone for a long time after that. Noon finally arrived, and hunger was tormenting him. He took a piece of Turkish bread [a confection made from peanuts] from his pocket and let it suffice, for he was not going to leave the bridge for any price. But however long he waited, no one came to him.

He was losing his patience, and he was irritated by the thought of how his wife would laugh at him and ridicule him for his gullibility. But he nevertheless held out, until finally the sun was about to set, and the goat herder returned with his herd. He was more that a little surprised to see that the man from Rinn was still there, and he asked him why he had been waiting there so long.

“You see,” said the peasant, “I dreamed that if I were to go to the Zirl bridge that I would discover something important.”

“Indeed!” answered the goat herder, laughing. “And I dreamed that if I were to go to G. in Rinn that I would find a pot of gold beneath the hearth.”

The man from Rinn had now heard enough. He ran home to see if the herder’s words were true. Arriving home late in the evening, he secretly dismantled his hearth at once, and he did indeed find a pot completely filled with gold. Thus he became the richest peasant far and wide. (Zillertal)

The Church at Erritsø

Many years ago there lived at Erritsø, near Fredericia, a very poor man, who one day said, “If I had a large sum of money, I would build a church for the parish.”

The following night he dreamed that if he went to the south bridge at Veile, he would make his fortune. He followed the intimation, and strolled backwards and forwards on the bridge, until it grew late, but without seeing any sign of his good fortune. When just on the point of returning, he was accosted by an officer, who asked him why he had spent the whole day so on the bridge.

He told him his dream, on hearing which the officer related to him in return, that he also, on the preceding night, had dreamed, that in a barn at Erritsø, belonging to a man whose name he mentioned, a treasure lay buried. But the name he mentioned was the man’s own, who prudently kept his own counsel, hastened home, and found the treasure in his barn. The man was faithful to his word and built the church.

And so, in light of all the above, here’s the BDLD version:

About two weeks ago, circumstances prevented the continued running of the blog off our own infrastructure, at least for a while. While roaming the world wide web searching for a new home, I discovered that our very own domain registrar, Go Daddy, actually offers free web hosting with the domain registration!

There are some reports of poor performance and intrusive ads with Go Daddy’s free hosting. So far, performance has been good and I have seen no ads; if any are seen, please contact me, preferably with screenshot in hand.

  1. R. Aryeh Kaplan, 7 Beggars and Other Kabbalistic Tales of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, Chapter 12 p. 121 – link. []
  2. ‘Vienna’ may be a diffusion from the R. Nachman versions; most of the R. Bunim versions agree that the protagonist was from, and founded his shul in, Kraków, but they locate the bridge in Prague. []
  3. Hészel Klépfisz, Culture of Compassion: The Spirit of Polish Jewry from Hasidism to the Holocaust, , p. 83 – link. []
  4. Martin Buber, The Treasure, in Tales of the Hasidim: The Later Masters, New York: Schocken Books, ©1948, 1975. pp. 245-246 – link. []

Not In Heaven: The Utilization Of Supernatural Sources Of Information To Establish Realia

The Mishnah rules:

מעידין לאור הנר ולאור הלבנה

ומשיאין על פי בת קול

מעשה באחד שעמד על ראש ההר ואמר איש פלוני בן פלוני ממקום פלוני מת הלכו ולא מצאו שם אדם והשיאו את אשתו

ושוב מעשה בצלמון באחד שאמר אני איש פלוני בן איש פלוני נשכני נחש והרי אני מת והלכו ולא הכירוהו והלכו והשיאו את אשתו:1

Tosafos Yom Tov explains that בת קול is not used here in its common sense of a supernatural, Heavenly voice, but is merely a borrowed term, referring in this context to a disembodied, but presumably human, voice. Were the voice indeed to have emanated from Heaven, it would be inadmissible as evidence, based on the famous principle of אין משגיחין בבת קול:

לשון הר”ב שמעו קול צווחת וכן כתב רש”י

ונראה לי שהוא שם מושאל מבת קול שנזכר הרבה פעמים בדברי רז”ל שהוא קול שנשתמשו בו לאחר שפסקה הנבואה והוא קול מחודש לשעתו מהבורא יתברך להודיע סודו ליראיו ואותו קול קראוהו בת קול. …

ובת קול דמשנתנו אינו מענין הזה אלא לפי שהלכו ולא מצאו שם אדם השאילו לו זה השם כלפי שלא נמצא לעינינו שום אדם שהקול נשמע ממנו אבל לפי האמת אנו דנין שהיה אדם שם והלך לו וזהו ששנינו מעשה באחד שעמד וכו’ ומי הגיד לנו שאדם עמד שם אחרי שהלכו ולא מצאוהו אלא ודאי דהכי קאמר מעשה שהיה ודאי כך היה שהיה אדם עומד שם ועל זה אנו סומכין ודנין להשיא את אשתו דאילו היינו מחשבין אותו לבת קול דעלמא וכעין נבואה. לא היינו סומכין עליו דהלכה שאין משגיחין בבת קול בכל דוכתא. כמ”ש התוספות פרק קמא דמכילתין דף יד.2

ולזה נראה לי שנתכוין הרמב”ם שכתב

בת קול הוא אשר ביאר במעשה באחד ובמעשה בצלמון. ע”כ.

ור”ל שלא תחשוב דשני ענינים הם ומשגיחים בבת קול. אפילו אם ידענו בבירור שאין אדם שם ממקום שהקול נשמע. ועוד דאי הכי הוי מעשה לסתור דמעיקרא קאמר משיאין על פי בת קול אפילו ידענו שלא נשמע כן מפי אדם והדר קאמר מעשה באחד שעמד וכו’ דבא לומר דדוקא כשיש לתלותו באדם … אלא כדאמרן דבת קול דהכא לאו היינו בת קול דעלמא אלא שם מושאל. כן נראה לי.

וכעין זה יש לפרש בסוף פרק בני העיר במסכת מגילה …3

Others disagree, positing a distinction between questions of law and fact, and arguing that it is only in the context of the former that the principle of אין משגיחין בבת קול, a corollary of the fundamental principle of תורה לא בשמים היא, applies, but that supernatural sources of information are perfectly acceptable for the establishment of realia:

ואנכי לא ידעתי מנין לו זה, ולענ”ד איננו נכון דלמה לא נסמוך על זה יותר ממה שסומכין על אמירת עובד כוכבים וע”א, (ואולי) [ואילו] אתי נביא ואמר וודאי שסומכין עליו,

ומה שהביא ראיה מהתוספות דף י”ד תמיהני מאי זה ענין לכאן, דהתם לענין פסקי הלכות אתמר כדתני טעמא משום לא בשמים היא. ולדעת הרמב”ם בהלכות יסודי התורה פרק ט’ גם נביא חייב חנק, מה שאין כן לענין מעשה שנעשה למה לא נהמניה ובכל מקום אמרינן אם יבוא אליהו ויאמר, …

[אמר זעירא נכדו הנ”ל דברי זקיני המה אמת ויציב. ועיין כן ברש”י שבת דף ק”ח אם יבוא אליהו ויאמר היתר ואיסור אין תלוי בו דלא בשמים היא. ועיין ברש”י עירובין דף מ”ה דמידי דאיסור והיתר לא משאיל באורים ותומים משמע דדווקא לענין איסור והיתר נאמר כן ועיין מ”ש בשם הגדולים מערכת י’ אות רכ”ד. ומה שהאריך ידי”נ ש”ב הגאון מ’ יעקב שור שי’ האבד”ק דארניא בבוקאווינא בספרו מאיר עיני חכמים אות מ”ג, וגם אני רבות דברתי בזה בעז”ה ולא המקום גורם להאסף פה].4

The most prominent of the dissenting views is that of Rav Aryeh Leib Zintz, who argues for the legitimacy of considering the appearance in a dream of a (putatively) deceased son to his mother as evidence of his demise:

העתק מגוף הכתב של העדות נידון השלשה עגונות דק”ק ראייגראד אשר בעליהן נטבעו בתוך הנהר המפסיק בין פולין לפרייסין. …

האיש הנטבע חיים יודל בא בחלום לאמו בלילה שניה של הרעש הטביעה ואמר לה בזה הלשון …5

ובענין העגונה אשת ר’ חיים יודל יש עוד לצדד ותחילה נבאר בענין בת קול. הנה במשנה מפורש דמשיאין על פי בת קול ובתוספות יום טוב פירש … ונתן התוספות יום טוב טעם לדבר שאין משגיחין בבת קול. וכבר כתבתי בתשובה שאין צריך לזה הטעם …

אמנם עתה ראיתי דמכל מקום פשטא דמילתא בת קול ממש. …

ומה שכתב התוספות יוט טוב מאין משגיחין בבת קול. אין ראיה כלל דשם אף שהוא אמת כבר ניתנה תורה מן השמים אבל בעדות אשה שהקילו טובא כל שנכרין הדברים לאמת לא גרע מעד מפי עד מפי שפחה שהקילו:6

והנה אחרי אחרי הודיע ד’ אותנו את כל זאת לבאר צדדי ההיתר ואפשר שמשיאין על פי בת קול אף שאינו כפי הטבע:

הנה החלום אשר חלמה האשה אמו של הנטבע ר’ חיים יודל כי נראה דלא דבר ריק הוא. ובהא מילתא תווהו ביה אינשי שמרגלא בפומי’ דאינשי דברי חלומות לא מעלין ולא מורידין. אמנם באמת אחרי העיון נראה דלאו מילתא זוטרתי היא חלום כזה. [ועיין שם שהאריך בענין סמכות של חלומות והכלל של דברי חלומות לא מעלין ולא מורידין.]7

There is actually considerable literature on this question; the most prominent adherent of Tosafos Yom Tov’s view that even questions of fact must be determined exclusively via earthly means is Rav Moshe (Maharam) Ibn Ḥabib:

( והמן) כזרע גד לבן (וטעמו) … תניא אידך גד שמגיד להם לישראל אי בן תשעה לראשון ואי בן שבעה לאחרון [רש”י: לפי שנאמר (שמות טז) וימודו בעומר בין שליקט הרבה בין שליקט מעט מוצא עומר לגולגולת ואם נמצא יתר בבית הראשון בידוע שבן תשעה לראשון הוא ואם בבית האחרון בידוע שבן האחרון הוא:]

לבן שמלבין עונותיהן של ישראל תניא ר’ יוסי אומר כשם שהנביא היה מגיד להם לישראל מה שבחורין ומה שבסדקין כך המן מגיד להם לישראל מה שבחורין ומה שבסדקין כיצד שנים שבאו לפני משה לדין זה אומר עבדי גנבת וזה אומר אתה מכרתו לי אמר להם משה לבוקר משפט למחר אם נמצא עומרו בבית רבו ראשון בידוע שזה גנבו אם נמצא עומרו בבית רבו שני בידוע שזה מכרו לו

וכן איש ואשה שבאו לפני משה לדין זה אומר היא סרחה עלי והיא אומרת הוא סרח עלי [רש”י: ותובעתו כתובתה:] אמר להם משה לבקר משפט למחר אם נמצא עומרה בבית בעלה בידוע שהיא סרחה עליו נמצא עומרה בבית אביה בידוע שהוא סרח עליה8

ומיהו קצת תימה איך ספק זה דבן ז’ לראשון דהוא ספק לכמה ענינים חמורים כגון אם הכה את אביו שחייב סקילה ולענין ערות אשת אביו היה פוסקים אותו ספק על ידי עומר של מן שנמצא בבית הראשון או השני והלא אפילו נביא גמור שיאמר אני ידעתי בנבואה שפלוני הרג את הנפש או חילל שבת או בענין הספיקות פלוני הוא בן פלוני מסתברא שלא יעשו על פיו כי על פי שני עדים יקום דבר, ודוגמא לזה בענין ספיקות התורה לא יכול הנביא לומר נאמר לי בנבואה שכך הלכה הרי זה נביא השקר ויחנק כמ”ש הרמב”ם פרק ט’ מיסודי התורה (הלכה ד’) ובפירוש המשנה הביאה ראיה לזה ממ”ש פרק העור והרוטב (חולין קכד.) אלו אמרו יהושע בן נון לא צייתנא ליה וכן אמרו אם יבא אליהו ויאמר חולצין בסנדל אין שומעין לו דלא בשמים היא ובענין פירושי התורה אין הולכין אחר נבואה אלא אחר החכמים יע”ש באריכות. וכן נראה לי שהוא לענין הדין ואין הולכין אחר נביא שיאמר בענין ספק בן ז’ לראשון פלוני הוא בן פלוני וסקלוהו או פלוני מכר עבדו לפלוני דעל פי שנים עדים יקום דבר כתיב, ואמרינן סוף פרק קמא דראש השנה (כא:) בקש קהלת לדון דינין שבלב שלא בעדים והתראה יצתה בת קול ואמרה לו וכתוב יושר דברי אמת כו’. וזה נראה לי טעם מה ששנינו בסוף עדיות (ח:ז) וחכמים אומרים דאליהו אינו בא לא לרחק ולא לקרב אלא לעשות שלום בעולם וכן פסק הרמב”ם סוף הלכות מלכים (יב:ב) יע”ש. …9

Interestingly, Maharam Ḥabib’s own discussion of our Mishnah includes three different interpretations of it (the two that we have seen, as well as a suggestion that the Mishnah is referring to a mere rumor), and contains no objection to the acceptability of a supernatural revelation as evidence:

ובלישנא במתניתין משיאין על פי בת קול היה משמע לי דהוא כמו בת קול דעלמא דאמרינן יצאה בת קול הלכה כבית הלל או בכל יום ויום בת קול יוצאת מהר חורב

וק”ל איך לא הזכירו הפוסקים דמשיאין על פי בת קול יש לומר דלא בקיאין מהו בת קול.

אי נמי פירוש דבת קול דמתניתין הוא פירוש דסיפא כמ”ש הרמב”ם בפירוש המשנה …

ועיין בתשובות מרן דף ק”ג ע”א בפסק מהר”י סמוט ז”ל אם יצא קול בעיר והוא קלא דלא פסיק פלוני מת או נהרג אם משיאין את אשתו והוא רצה לצדד בתחלת דבריו דהיינו פירוש דמשיאין על פי בת קול כו’ יע”ש …10

Returning to Maharam Ḥabib’s assertion that even questions of fact are subject to the rule of תורה לא בשמים היא and cannot be decided by supernatural means, once again, many Aharonim object to this conflation of questions of law and fact:

Rav Yehudah Rosanes (Mishneh Le’Melech) and Rav Ya’akov Culi

ומיהו נראה דדוקא בספק דמציאות כגון ההיא דנתערב ולדה בולד שפחתה משום דבספק דמציאות שייך לומר אם יבא אליהו וכו’ אבל בספקא דדינא לא שייך לומר אם יבא אליהו וכמבואר. …

(א”ה … ומ”ש הרב המחבר דבספיקא דדינא לא שייך לומר אם יבא אליהו כן מבואר בדברי הרמב”ם פרק ט’ מהלכות יסודי התורה דין ד’ דנביא שאמר הלכה כדברי פלוני הרי זה נביא השקר גם בפירוש המשניות בהקדמתו לסדר זרעים הרחיב בדבור בזה יעו”ש.

ומדברי הרמ”ז … נראה דלא שנא ליה בספק דמציאות לספיקא דדינא וצ”ע):11

Rav Haim Yosef David Azulai (Hida)

למדנו מדברי הרב דלא מיבעיא בספיקא דדינא שאנו מסתפקים דאין לסמוך על דברי נביא אלא אפילו אם הדין פשוט לנו אלא שאנו מסתפקים במציאות היכי הוי גם בזה אם בא נביא ואמר שהמציאות כך היא לא סמכינן עליה. וכן מתבאר שסבר הרב בני דוד בריש ספרו עיין בדבריו:

ולפום ריהטא אפשר לסיועינהו …

אמנם לקושטא דמילתא דברי מהר”ם ן’ חביב והרב בני דוד דסברי דאף בספק מציאות אין נביא רשאי להעמידנו גופא דעובדא היכי הוה מדעתי כי קשים אי בעית אימא גמרא ואי בעית אימא מיסודן של ראשונים …

שוב ראיתי לגדול בדורו הרב משנה למלך … ומהר”י כולי בהגהתו … ולא זכר מהר”י כולי מכל הני דאייתינן בס”ד:12

ומסוגית חולין … היה נראה להביא ראיה לדברי מהר”ם ן’ חביב … ולמדנו מדבריו דלא מבעיא בספק דין דאין לסמוך על דברי נביא אלא אף אם הדין פשוט לנו אלא שאנו מסתפקים במציאות גם בזה אין סומכין על נביא וכיוצא. ולכאורה מסוגית חולין הנזכר דפירשה הרמב”ם אפילו אם אמרה יהושע בדרך נבואה לא צייתנא לה והתם קיימי במציאות אי אמרה ר’ יוחנן ארישא או אסיפא הוי סייעתא לדברי הר”ם ן’ חביב, וכן משמע קצת מההיא דזבחים דף ס”ב. וכן מתבאר שסבר הרב בני דוד בריש ספרו.

אמנם אני בעוניי הוכחתי מכמה סוגיות ומיסודן של ראשונים רש”י ותוספות והרשב”א והרא”ש בכמה דוכתי שסברי להפך דבספק מציאות כן הודע ונביא צייתנא ליה. וכמו שהארכתי אני ההדיוט בעניותי בזה בספרי הקטן ברכי יוסף או”ח סימן ל”ב. ועמ”ש בעניותי בפני דוד פרשת בשלח בס”ד ואכמ”ל.13

Rav Zvi Hirsch Chajes

כבר ביארתי בחבורי תורת נביאים דכחו של אליהו רק לברר הספקות ולא לשנות ההלכות, וכבר נזכרה הסברא הלזו גם במשנה למלך … ואם כן בקידש אחת משתי אחיות דהוי ספק לבד ויוכל אליהו לברר איזה מהם קידש, אבל חליצה תוך ג’ חדשים דהוי גזירת חכמים דצריכה להמתין אפילו בקטנה דלאו בת איעבורי ולא פלוג חכמים בגזירתן ובכה”ג אין כח ביד אליהו לשנות גזרתן, וזה ברור.14

Hacham Ovadyah

ונראה עוד דספק התלוי במציאות אפשר להכריע הדבר על ידי נביא. כדמוכח ביבמות (מא:) דקאמר אם יבא אליהו ויאמר דהא קידש בת חליצה ויבום היא. ע”ש. ולפי זה לא קשה קושית המהר”ם בן חביב, שהעומר גם כן היה מכריע ספק המציאות ולא ספיקא דדינא.15

As noted by Hida, however, one other ally of Maharam Ḥabib is Rav David Falcon in his בני דוד:

[לשון הרמב”ם:] דבר ברור ומפורש בתורה וכו’ הא למדת שאין נביא רשאי לחדש דבר מעתה וכו’

כתוב בכתבי מהר”י איסרלן סימן ק”ב על ששאלו אם אשת אליהו מותרת והשיב דאשת מלאך מיקרי …

אך מה שצריך לדקדק הוא דמה שנפרד מאלישע היאך הותרה אשתו דאפשר דהלך אחר כך על אחד ההרים כמו שאמרו לו בני הנביאים או אפשר שיבא אחר זמן שהרי מצינו בדברי הימים ויבא אליו מכתב מאליהו ולא שייך כתב במלאך ולומר שאלישע ידע בדרך הנבואה שאליהו לא יראה עוד וכמו שאמר לבני הנביאים שלא יבקשוהו מכל מקום היאך יותר אשתו וכי על פי נביא יכולים לפסוק דין בלא עדים. ועיין בההיא דאמרינן ביומא פרק יום הכפורים דהמן היה מגיד אם האשה סרחה על בעלה או האיש וגם בעבד של מי הוא ובמעשה של שתי נשים דשלמה ובתשובת הרא”ש שהביא הטור.16

A fascinating modern instance of this debate appears in Rav Yehoshua Menahem Ehrenberg’s דבר יהושע. A certain rabbi, apparently a distinguished Rav and Kabbalist, but at whom R. Ehrenberg is apparently too appalled to name, seems to have maintained that the identification of a gravesite as that of a Jew through mystical, Kabbalistic revelation has no Halachic consequence; priests may visit the site, and the grave may even be opened, for as far as the Halachah is concerned, we have no basis for assuming that a Jew is buried there, and the controlling principle remains that most (רוב) graves are those of non-Jews. R. Ehrenberg is horrified with this schizophrenic stance that Kabbalah and Halachah have independent criteria for the establishment of facts:

על דבר פסק הלכה וקבלה של הרב ….. [הושמט במקור] נפלאתי נוראות שלפי דעתו כל אותן הקברי צדיקים שגילה האר”י ז”ל ברוח הקודש מותר לזלזל בהם ואף לפתוח את קברם כל זמן שלא ראינו שגופם קיים בבשר גידין ועצמות, משום דכל זמן שלא ראינו כנ”ל יש לנו לתלות דלא זו בלבד שאינם צדיקים אלא שהם גוים גמורים משום שלפי דעתו רוב הקברים בארץ ישראל הם של עכו”ם ואין בעל רוח הקודש כמו האר”י ז”ל נאמן לומר שאינם של גוים.

ותמה אני מי שמתיימר להיות מקובל יאמר דבר כזה דאם כן כל אותן שמשתטחין על קברי הצדיקים הנ”ל וסומכין על האר”י ז”ל אינם אלא טועים ובאמת הם משתטחין על קברי גוים מאחר שלפי ההלכה אזלינן בתר רובא ומהאי טעמא התיר גם לכהנים לילך על קברם.

ואמנם שדעתו שם לחלק בין ההלכה לקבלה, כלומר לפי ההלכה הם גוים מאחר “כי כשבאים להלכה הולכים בתר רובא” ורק לפי הקבלה הם קברי צדיקים ודבר זה מוקצה מדעת, דאטו לפי הקבלה לית לן למיזל בתר רובא והלא גם בעלי הקבלה מודים שהתורה לא בשמים היא וגם בעלי הלכה מודים שהאר”י ז”ל היה בעל רוח הקודש אמיתי, ואם אין בעלי הלכה סומכין על רוח הקודש במקום שאומר כנגד הרוב גם בעלי הקבלה אין להם לסמוך על זה, והרב הנ”ל עשה את הקבלה וההלכה כאילו הם שתי תורות חס ושלום וסותרין זה את זה רחמנא ליצלן מהאי דעתא, ואם מצינו לפעמים מחלוקת בין חכמי הלכה לחכמי הקבלה היינו כדרך שמצינו מחלוקת הפוסקים או שלדעת חכמי הקבלה יש עניינים שאף על פי שלפי ההלכה הנגלית שמחוייב כל אדם לקיים אין דבר זה חיוב מכל מקום לפי ההלכה הנסתרת שהיא מדת חסידות לפנים משורת הדין הרוצה להיות חסיד צריך להתנהג כך, אבל ודאי אין בעלי הקבלה חולקין על דברים שהם עיקרים בתורה כגון הא דאזלינן בתר רובא ושהתורה לא בשמים היא, ואם כן חס ושלום לריק יגע האר”י ז”ל לגלות קברי הצדיקים ברוח הקודש מכיון שאין צריך להאמין לו, ולא עוד אלא שאנו צריכין להחזיק אותן הקברים בחזקת קברי גוים וחולין היא לנו לומר כן.

ובאמת עיקר הדבר אם יכולים לברר ספק על פי רוח הקודש כבר דברו מזה האחרונים ולא העלו דבר ברור עיין בזה בשדי חמד כללים מערכת ד’ כלל מ”ה ופאת השדה מערכת ד’ כלל כ”ז ועיין פני יהושע פסחים טו. בתוספות ד”ה חביות שנולד בה ספק שכתב וז”ל,

והא ודאי בכל ספק טומאה ברשות היחיד אם יבוא אליהו או יבורר הספק על ידי עדים יהא טהור עכ”ל,

הרי שמדמה בירור על ידי אליהו כמבורר על ידי עדים ואף על גב דספק טומאה ברשות היחיד ספיקו טמא כודאי, ממילא הוא הדין ואולי עוד כל שכן הוא שהיכא דהבירור הוא רק בדבר שאזלינן בתר רובא דסמכינן על אליהו לברר נגד הרוב וכל שכן לשיטת הסוברים דגם עד אחד נאמן לברר מרוב, ואין לומר דדוקא אליהו שהיה נביא ולא בעל רוח הקודש בלבד, זה אינו דכיון דמשום תורה לא בשמים היא קא אתינן עלה אין חילוק בין נביא לבעל רוח הקודש אלא כל שמוחזק לן ברור שהוא בעל רוח הקודש יכולין לסמוך עליו אלא דבעינן שיהיה אתמחי גברא כמו האר”י ז”ל, ואפשר דאפילו אם לא הוחזק כמו האר”י ז”ל אלא שידעינן באחד שהוא קדוש וטהור וראוי שתשרה עליו רוח הקודש אם אומר אני יודע ברוח הקודש שדבר הזה כך וכך אף על פי שאומר כנגד הרוב כיון שעל כל פנים יש מיעוט ואינו אומר רק לברר נאמן ורשאי לסמוך עליו ואפילו להקל כמו שנראה דעת הפני יהושע הנ”ל וכל שכן בכגון נידון דידן דהוי להחמיר. …

אכן אני בעניי הערותי מאז מהא דאיתא בעירובין סד: מעשה ברבן גמליאל וכו’ מצא גלוסקין בדרך א”ל לרבי אילעי טול גלוסקין מן הדרך מצא נכרי אחד אמר לו מבגאי טול גלוסקין הללו מאילעי וכו’ באותה שעה למדנו שכיון רבן גמליאל ברוח הקודש וכו’ ולמדנו שהולכין אחרי רוב עוברי דרכים ולמדנו שחמצו של נכרי אחר הפסח מותר בהנאה עכ”ד הגמרא, וקשה כיון שצפה רבן גמליאל ברוח הקודש איך למדנו שהולכין אחר רוב עוברי דרכים שמא משום כך אסרו רבן גמליאל לרבי אילעי לאכלו משום שידע ברוח הקודש דמעכו”ם נפל, אלא על כרחך דאין יכולין לאסור אפילו במקום שהרוב מסייע לרוח הקודש וכל שכן שאין יכולין להתיר וכל שכן במקום שהרוב נגד רוח הקודש והארכתי בזה ליישב קושית המהרש”א שם בתוספות ד”ה שהולכין אחר רוב ואין כאן מקום להאריך.17

R. Ehrenberg now proposes the aforementioned distinction between questions of law and fact, with the additional twist that even questions of a technically factual nature are actually considered questions of law when the underlying fact is essentially uninteresting outside of its legal significance (this last point does not seem to have occurred to Hida, who, as we have seen above, considers the question of the context in which R. Yohanan made a certain Halachic statement to be a question of fact, not of law):

אך יש לדחות שבאמת בדברים של איסור והיתר אי אפשר להכריע ברוח הקודש משום דאף בעל רוח הקודש אינו יכול לדעת רק מה שמגלין לו מן השמים ברוח הקודש כמו שהיה אצל נביאים שאם לא באה אליו הנבואה לא הוי ידע ומכיון שהתורה לא בשמים היא אין מגלין לו מן השמים אם דבר זה אסור או לא משום שלכך נתנה התורה כללים איך להתנהג בספק איסור וצריך להכריע בדבר על פי כללי התורה ולא על פי רוח הקודש, וכל היכא שעל פי התורה דבר זה מותר מספק או אסור מספק אין משתמשין ברוח הקודש לומר אחרת, ועוד כיון שעל פי התורה דבר אסור מחמת הספק או מותר אז המציאות באמת כך היא ואף רוח הקודש צריך להסכים לזה הואיל ודיני התורה נחתכין לפי הוראת חכמי התורה אף אם לולא כללי התורה הוי המציאות להיפך, אך זה דוקא בדיני איסור והיתר מה שאין כן בדברים התלוים במציאות כגון בנידון דידן לדעת אם קבר זה הוא מעכו”ם או מישראל אף על גב דיש נפקא מינה בזה גם לענין איסור והיתר שפיר יכולין לברר הדבר ברוח הקודש כיון שאין הבירור כדי להורות הלכה אלא כדי לברר את המציאות וכיון שנתברר המציאות ברוח הקודש שוב צריכין להחמיר בו גם לענין האיסור, ואין להשיב הלא אצל רבן גמליאל היה הספק אם זה פת עכו”ם או פת ישראל, זה אינו דאין חילוק בין פת עכו”ם לפת ישראל אלא איסור והיתר בלבד, ואי לאו דין איסור והיתר בודאי לא הוי איכפת ליה לרבן גמליאל איזה פת הוא זה ולא היה משתמש ברוח הקודש לדעת זאת, מה שאין כן בנידון דידן שהשתמש האר”י ז”ל ברוח הקודש לדעת קברי צדיקים בכדי להתקשר אתם כידוע שפיר עשו את רצונו הקדוש וגילו לו.

R. Ehrenberg now goes even further and argues that the determination of the identity of a grave’s occupant does not even require רוח הקודש, but can be accomplished through a sort of spiritual sight, analogous to ordinary, physical sight, which is sensitive to “the light which emanates from the holy body that is buried in this grave, and he can also bind his soul to [the deceased’s] soul, to connect with him and to learn his name, and even converse with him”, and he cites a famous and documented incident in which Rav Shimon Sofer revealed the long lost grave of Rav Eliezer Ashkenazi (author of the מעשה השם), as well as many stories of the clairvoyance of the Besht and his disciples, which he understands to have involved this sort of spiritual sight, which he maintains is not subject to the rule of תורה לא בשמים היא:

ועוד נלענ”ד דענין גילוי קברי צדיקים אינו צריך לרוח הקודש דוקא כלומר אינו צריך שיגלו לו מן השמים כעין מדרגת נבואה בזעיר אנפין אלא לזה יכול לבוא כל מי שהוא קדוש וטהור שלא פגם עינו הרוחניים דזה יכול לראות דברים רוחניים כמו גשמיים ויכול לראות האור היוצא מגוף הקדוש הקבור בקבר הזה וגם יכול לקשר נפשו בנפשו להתחבר עמו ולדעת מה שמו ואפילו לדבר עמו, וידוע ומפורסם היה בעירנו קראקא ונזכר הדבר גם בספרים שהגה”ק ר’ שמעון סופר זצ”ל גילה את מקום קברו של ר”א בעל מעשה השם זצ”ל שהיה נעלם מעיני כל ואחרי כמה שנים חפרו ומצאו כדבריו, וכל כה”ג לאו ברוח הקודש אלא בעינים דקדושה, וכן שמענו ואבותינו ספרו לנו כמה עובדות מהבעש”ט ותלמידיו הקדושים זצלל”ה שצפו למרחוק והכל על ידי עיניים הרוחניים שלהם שלא נפגמו ובכה”ג הוי ראייה מעלייתא ויכול להעיד כאילו ראה בעיני בשר ואין לזה ענין להא דתורה לא בשמים היא, ועל כן עלינו לקבל דברי האר”י ז”ל באימה בלי שום פקפוק כלל חס ושלום ושרא ליה מרא להרב הנ”ל שהטיל דופי בקברי צדיקים.

R. Ehrenberg reports that his opponent subsequently made the additional argument that any holy individual asserting mystical knowledge is suspected of delusion, as we have no mechanism for verifying the authenticity of any particular claimant to רוח הקודש; R. Ehrenberg considers this a further outrage, a libel against the Arizal and a vitiation of the entire edifice of Lurianic Kabbalah18:

והנה בענין אם יכולים לסמוך על בעל רוח הקודש בענין זה כבר הארכתי לעיל וכעת ראיתי במכתבו השני של הרב הנ”ל שהוסיף פשע על חטא באמרו שאם יבוא קדוש ויאמר שקברי יהודים הם נגיד לא בשמים היא כי אפשר טועה בדמיונו כי אין סימן בתורה לקבוע שהוא בעל רוח הקודש וכו’ נמצא זכות של כהנים שנכנסים לקברי צדיקים שהרעישו רבים וכו’ עכ”ל, הנה בזה הטיל דופי ברוח קדשו של רבינו האר”י ז”ל שאין לסמוך עליו במה שגילה קברי צדיקים הואיל ואין סימן שהוא בעל רוח הקודש אם כן בטלת כל תורת הקבלה שלו חס ושלום שאם מפקפק ברוח הקודש שלו מי יאמין לתורתו ואין לו אלא דברי וכו’, ואל יאמר שלא נתכוין להאר”י הקדוש שהרי מדבר מאותן הקברים שהכהנים נכנסים לשם על סמך דברי האר”י ז”ל שהם קברי צדיקים. …

דברי ידידו הכותב בצער על שהוראות כאלו יוצאים מרבנים חשובים בישראל.

יהושע מנחם אהרנברג19

Update: An article and lecture of mine on this topic, including much of the above but also numerous additional sources, are available at the Internet Archive.

  1. משניות יבמות טז:ו, בבלי קכב. – קשר []
  2. עיין מה שהשיג על ראיה זו הרש”ש שם ביבמות []
  3. תוספות יום טוב שם, ונראה שכן הסכים בקרבן נתנאל שם אות ג’, ועצם פירוש זה במשנה נמצא גם בעוד כמה אחרונים, וכמובא באוצר הפוסקים אה”ע (ירושלים תשי”ד) חלק ג’ סימן י”ז ס”ק ע”ט אות א’ עמוד 122 []
  4. חדושי רב צבי הירש ברלין ליבמות שם []
  5. רב אריה ליב צינץ, שו”ת משיבת נפש, (פיעטרקוב תר”ס) חלק ראשון סימן ל”ה בשאלה עמודים 76-78 – קשר, צויין בהעמק שאלה פרשת מקץ סוף שאילתא כ”ט, שדי חמד (ח”ב) כללים מערכת הדל”ת סוף אות מ”ה ד”ה ואם אפשר לסמוך ע”ד חלום בהיתר עגונה (עמוד 32), אוצר הפוסקים שם אות ב []
  6. שם אות ו’ עמוד 81 – קשר []
  7. שם אות ז’, עמודים 81-82 []
  8. יומא עה. – קשר []
  9. רב משה ן’ חביב, שמות בארץ – תוספות יום הכפורים (תשנ”ח) עה. ד”ה ומיהו קצת תימה – קשר, הובא בשו”ת יביע אומר חלק א’ או”ח סימן מ”א אות ד’, ועיין שם מה שפלפל בדבריו []
  10. עזרת נשים (ירושלים תשמ”ט) סעיף י’ אות ע’ עמודים לז.-: – קשר []
  11. משנה למלך והגהת משנה למלך אישות סוף ט:ו []
  12. ברכי יוסף או”ח סימן ל”ב אות ד’ ד”ה וראה ראיתי – קשר []
  13. שם הגדולים, מערכת גדולים, אות י’, סוף אות רכ”ד, ערך רבינו יעקב החסיד – קשר []
  14. הגהות מהרי”ץ חיות ליבמות מא:‏ []
  15. יביע אומר שם אות ט’, ועיין שם שהביא כן מעוד כמה אחרונים []
  16. בני דוד (קושטאנדינא התצ”ח) ריש הספר עמוד א. – קשר []
  17. שו”ת דבר יהושע חלק ד’ (בני ברק תשמ”ז) סימן כ”ג []
  18. The Wikipedia page on Lurianic Kabbalah currently begins with this note “This article may be too technical for most readers to understand. Please help improve this article to make it understandable to non-experts, without removing the technical details.” []
  19. שם אות ו []

Dreams of Art and Angels

Carolina A. Miranda reports on the Rubin Museum of Art’s “Dream Over” event:

On Saturday night, more than 80 artsy types in pajamas filed into the Rubin Museum of Art in Chelsea for its first ever adults-only sleepover. The purpose: to see what sorts of dreams the museum’s priceless collection of Himalayan art might inspire. I’m not generally the type to spend a lot of time parsing my dreams, which generally involve me showing up somewhere without any pants. But the opportunity to spend the night in a museum—à la Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler—was something I couldn’t resist.

Things got cooking on Saturday at about 9 P.M., when a gaggle of pajama-clad New Yorkers—and their copious luggage (and AeroBeds!)—arrived in the museum’s lobby to check-in and be led to their assigned painting. As part of the registration process, we all had submitted forms outlining key episodes in our lives, along with a list of colors to which we felt a resonance. Museum staff selected works of art based on that information. I was placed under the stoic gaze of a 15th century Tibetan Medicine Buddha on the sixth floor—a selection that was intended to throw a little healing my way. (Freelance writers are pretty wounded people.)

The rest of the evening was designed to get us ready for dreaming. We carefully arranged our bedding. We attended a short lecture on memories and dreams led by clinical psychiatrist Dr. Edward Nersessian and Mt. Sinai neuroscientist Cristina Alberini. There was a group discussion on dreaming. We nibbled on tea and cookies and listened to super groovy sitar music. At around midnight, the museum’s docents came to our bedsides to tell us a “bedtime story” related to the work of art that we’d been assigned. My story was actually more of a guided meditation, intended to get me relaxed. (It worked.) By 1 A.M., all was quiet—except for the industrial plastic moans let out anytime someone rolled over on their AeroBed.

Naturally, the big questions were: would we dream? And, if so, what? The fact is that scientists know very little about dreaming. Nersessian explained that there are any number of theories as to what dreams could be—from the brain organizing new memories to our consciousness modulating its emotions to prophetic visions of the future. Whether any of us staring at a work of art would be able to internalize its meaning, have it manifest itself in a dream and then be able to remember it all the next day was anyone’s guess. To be sure that we didn’t forget anything, a group of “dream gatherers” came around to talk to us first thing in the morning (before we’d even gotten out of bed) to get everything down while it was still fresh.

As one could expect with a subject as personal as dreaming, the results—at least anecdotally—were mixed. There were a number of folks who didn’t dream, or couldn’t remember their dreams. Several others had so-called anxiety dreams, during which they dreamed about trying to dream in the museum. (So meta!) There were dreams that involved Natalie Portman, hair dye and pancakes. Interestingly, a number of folks reported visual elements in their dreams that recalled the paintings they had been looking at. Juan Carlos Andrews had a vision of four Asian, sage-like men all wearing beige. “It was so vivid,” he recalled. “And highly unusual. I’ve never dreamt anything like that.”

And me? I dreamt I was floating, pleasantly carried away by a current—the type of restful dream I haven’t had in eons. It’s hard to say whether this was because of the Medicine Buddha’s tranquilizing effects or because I’d been lulled to sleep in a serene spot to the tune of a sitar. What I do know is that it was a rare luxury to spend so much time before a single work of art. Over the course of an evening and a morning, I’d been able to study the myriad deities, the details of the Buddha’s geometric cloak and the throbbing palette of crimson that held the work together. And for that alone, the night on a museum floor was worth it.

Ralbag on the mysterious Biblical episode of the wrestling between Ya’akov and the “Man”:

והנה קם יעקב בלילה ההוא, ויעבר נשיו ושפחותיו וילדיו וכל קניניו את מעבר יבוק, אחר שעבר הוא בראשונה לראות עומק המים ולנסותו, ומאיזה מקום יכשר יותר שיעבור. ונשאר יעקב לבדו להעביר קצת קניניו שנשארו שם, וישן שם, ונראה לו מלאך השם בנבואה כאלו הוא איש; ולעוצם דבקותו בו וקורבת מדרגתו ממנו נדמה לו שהוא נאבק עימו. עם שכבר ראה יעקב זה ההתאבקות מפני טרדת דמיונו בענין עשו וחושבו להמציא תחבולות להפילו אם יקום עליו להכותו, כי אין מראין לאדם אלא מהרהורי לבו. והנה ארך זמן זה ההתאבקות עד עלות השחר, כי אז הגיע העת שהיה מקיץ יעקב לפי מנהגו. והנה נדמה לו שנגע בכף ירכו, ותקע כף ירך יעקב בהאבקו עימו. ואמר ליעקב שישלחהו כי עלה השחר והגיע העת שראוי ליעקב שיפנה לעסקיו, ולא הסכים יעקב להתיר הקשר אשר ביניהם אם לא יברכהו. ואמר אליו המלאך שלא יקרא עוד “יעקב” כי אם “ישראל”, כי הוא שרר עם מלאכי השם יתעלה עד שמדרגתו קרובה למדרגתם ולא נלאה כוחו בזה, ויהיה שר גם כן עם האנשים ולא ינוצח. ובזה היה ליעקב עוד ייעוד-מה, שלא ינצחהו עשו. …

והנה כאשר הקיץ קרא יעקב שם המקום ההוא “פנואל”, כי ראיתי אלקים פנים אל פנים ותנצל נפשי. והנה זרח לו השמש כאשר עבר את פנואל, והיה צולע על ירכו מפני מה שקרהו. על כן צוו בני ישראל על הר סיני שלא יאכלו החלק מגיד הנשה שהוא על כף הירך; אבל מה שהיה ממנו בזולת המקום הזה – לא נאסר להם לאוכלו. וזה הציווי היה לפרסם זאת הנבואה הנפלאה שהגיעה ליעקב, אשר מרוב הדבקות שהיה לו במלאך קרה לו זה המקרה; וזה, כי ההאמנה בנבואה הוא מפינות התורה. …1

והנה הסכמנו שיהיה זה ההתאבקות בעת השינה, לפי שהוא בלתי אפשר שיראה לאדם מלאך השם בזה האופן בהשתמשו בכוחותיו הגופיות. וכבר הודיענו הרב המורה שכבר נשמט במקומות רבים זכר היות הנבואה בחלום או במראה, להשענו שכל נבואה היא בזה התואר. ולזה לא זכר בזה המקום שתהיה זאת הנבואה בחלום או במראה.

ואם יספק מספק ויאמר: איך יתכן שישאר לו מזה זה-הרושם, בזה שהיה צולע על ירכו כאשר הקיץ? נאמר לו שזה אפשר אצלנו לאחת משתי סיבות: הסיבה האחת היא שאנחנו נראה התפעל כלי הנפש מהדמיונים שיהיו לאדם בעת השינה, לפי שהדמיונים ההם יניעו כלי הנפש הנעה-מה. וזה, שכבר תראה שיחלום האדם ששוכב עם אשה ויראה קרי, כאלו היה הפועל שלם בהקיץ; וכן תמצא שיחלום האדם שהוא נופל ממקום גבוה, ויתנועעו מפני זה איבריו בעת השינה תנועה חזקה נפלאה, וזה מבואר מאוד מן החוש. ולזאת הסיבה אפשר שיקרה לו כשראה שנקעה כף ירכו בחלום, שישאר מזה רושם במקום ההוא מצד התנועה תקרה לו, ולזה אפשר שקרה שמצא עצמו צולע על ירכו כאשר הקיץ.

והסיבה השנית היא שכבר יתעורר הדמיון לפעמים מהדברים שיתפעל האדם מהם בעת השינה. ולזה יקחו הרופאים ראיה חזקה על ענין החולי מחלומות החולה. והמשל, שאם יגע הישן בדבר קר – יחלום שהוא במים קרים, או שכבר ירד עליו השלג והכפור ומה שידמה לזה; ואם יגע הישן בדבר חם – יחלום שהוא באש, או שהשמש מכה עליו ומה שידמה לזה. וזה דבר אין ספק בו, כי החוש יעיד על זה. ולזאת הסיבה תמצא שכאשר יגבר המותר הזרעי באדם ויתעורר לצאת – יחלום שהוא שוכב עם אשה. ולזאת הסיבה בעינה הנה כשיתחדש לאדם כאב בעת השינה – יחלום שכבר הוכה במקום ההוא בסיבת ריב היה לו עם איש-מה בחלומו, וזה ממה שיקרה הרבה גם כן לפי מה שהושג לנו בחוש. ובהיות הענין כן, הנה היה אפשר שקרה ליעקב בסיבת העמל שעמל בהעברת הנחל לכל אשר לו, שיתחדש לו כאב בכף הירך בעת השינה, ונדמה לו מפני זה בחלומו-של-נבואה שיתאבק עם זה האיש ושתקע כף ירכו בהאבקו.

ולפי מה שזכרנו היו להתאבקות שנראה לו בעת השינה שלוש סיבות: הסיבה האחת היא חוזק הדבקות שהיה לו עם זה המלאך; והשנית – מה ששוטטה מחשבתו בהקיץ להמציא תחבולות להפיל עשו אם יקום עשו להכותו; והשלישית – הכאב שנתחדש לו בעת השינה בכף הירך.2

I cite the above passages in an essay on Ralbag to be published in Hakirah; here is my translation:

And Ya’akov arose on that night and transported his wives and children and maidservants and all his possessions across the ford of the Yabok, after he first crossed himself to see the depth of the water and to test it, and [to ascertain] the point best suited for crossing, and Ya’akov remained alone to transport some of his possessions which had remained there, and he slept there, and an angel of God appeared to him in a prophecy as though he were a man, and due to his great attachment to him and the closeness of his [spiritual] level to him, it seemed to him that he wrestled with him, and Ya’akov also saw this wrestling because of the preoccupation of his imagination with the matter of Esav and his planning to devise stratagems to defeat him, were he to arise against him to smite him, for they only show a man the thoughts of his heart.

And the duration of the wrestling extended until daybreak, for the time had then arrived that Ya’akov would awaken, according to his custom, and it seemed to him that he wrenched his hip at its socket in the course of wrestling with him, and he said to Ya’akov that he should send him [on his way], for the day had broken and the time had arrived that it was appropriate for Ya’akov to turn to his affairs, but Ya’akov did not agree to release the tie between them unless he would bless him, and the angel then said to him that he would no longer be called Ya’akov but rather Yisrael, for he had striven with angels of God, may He be elevated, to the extent that his level was close to theirs, and his strength was not wearied in this, and he would also strive with men and not be defeated, and this was an additional promise to Ya’akov, that Esav would not defeat him …

And when he awoke, Ya’akov called the name of that place Penuel, [for] I have seen a divine being face to face, yet my life has been preserved, and the sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping on his hip, because of what had befallen him, and the Sons of Israel were therefore commanded at Mount Sinai that they should not eat the portion of the thigh muscle which is on the socket of the hip, but that of it which is elsewhere was not prohibited to them to eat, and this commandment was to publicize this wondrous prophecy that Ya’akov experienced, that from his great cleaving which he had to the angel, this event befell him, for the belief in prophecy is among the cornerstones of the Torah …

And we have decided that this wrestling was during [Ya’akov’s] sleep, for it is impossible for an angel of God to appear to a man in this manner when he is utilizing his corporeal faculties, and the Rav Ha’Moreh has already informed us that in many places, the mention of the prophecy occurring in a dream or vision has been omitted, in reliance on the fact that every prophecy is of this character, and it therefore does not mention in this place that this prophecy was in a dream or vision.

And if a doubter shall raise a doubt against us and say, how is it possible that this effect upon him should remain from this, that he was limping on his thigh when he awoke? We say to him that we consider this possible for one of two causes: The first cause is that we see the influence on the faculties of the soul of the imagined [notions] that a man has during sleep, for these imagined ideas activate the faculties of the soul some activation, and so you will see that a man will dream that he is sleeping with a woman and he will see semen, as if this activity actually occurred while awake, and so will you find that a person will dream that he is falling from a high place and because of this his limbs will move during his sleep a strong and wondrous movement, and this is very clear from the senses, and for this cause it is possible that when he saw in his dream that the socket of his hip was wrenched, [a corresponding physical motion] befell him so that there remained an effect in that place from the movement that had then befallen him, and it is therefore possible that it occurred that he found himself limping on his thigh when he awoke.

And the second cause is that the imagination is sometimes aroused from events that affect a man during sleep, and the physicians therefore draw strong inferences on the nature of a sickness from the dreams of the sick one. For example, if the sleeper touches something cold, he will dream that he is in cold water, or that snow or frost or that which is similar to this has descended upon him, and if the sleeper shall touch something hot, he will dream that he is in fire or that the sun is beating upon him, and that which is similar to this, and this is something about which there is no doubt, for the senses testify to this. And for this cause you will find, that when the excess of seed shall become strong in a man, and become aroused to leave, he will dream that he is sleeping with a woman, and from this exact cause, when a person develops some pain during sleep, he will dream that he has been struck in that place due to a quarrel that he had with another man in his dream, and this type of phenomenon occurs frequently, according to the perception of our senses. And this being the case, it is possible that it befell Ya’akov, due to the labor that he had labored in the transportation of all that was his across the river, that he had developed a pain in the socket of his hip during his sleep, and because of this, it appeared to him in his prophetic dream that he wrestled with the man and that he wrenched the socket of his hip when he wrestled with him.

And according to what we have mentioned, there were three causes for the wrestling that appeared to him during sleep: the first is the strength of the cleaving that he had with this angel, the second is the occupation of his thought while awake to devise stratagems to defeat Esav if he arose against him to smite him, and the third is the pain that he developed during sleep in the socket of his hip.

  1. פירוש רלב”ג על התורה (מהדורת ברכת משה / מעליות – מעלה אדומים) בראשית לב:כג-לג, עמודים תיא-ב []
  2. שם, סוף פרק לב, עמודים תיד-טו []