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Thursday, November 23, 2017


Wisdom, Chapter 18, Verse 17-18
17 Then, at once, visions in horrible dreams perturbed them and unexpected fears assailed them; 18 and cast half-dead, one here, another there, they revealed why they were dying.

Egyptians had just had the tenth plague the death of the first born; all their horrible dreams and visions had come true. The day before or even the hour before they were happy; they continued to revele in their ungodly ways. They had 10 chances to change and now the last plague.

Nightmares in Ancient Egypt[1]

The dream in ancient Egypt functioned as a liminal zone between the land of the living and the afterlife. However, the dream was also a phenomenon over which the dreamer had little control, and its permeable boundaries allowed both the divine and the demonic inhabitants of the beyond access to the visible world. Sometimes the result was a positive beneficial experience, as is attested in New Kingdom royal texts and elite hymns that relate the awe-inspiring contact a dreamer could have with a god or a goddess. But another more disturbing belief was that dreams could also allow the vulnerable sleeper to be watched or even assaulted by the hostile dead. While today we call these events «nightmares» and consider them psychological phenomena, the Egyptians blamed them on external monsters or demons crossing over from the other side. These entities included the dead, and here it appears that the line between the justified transfigured dead and the malevolent unjustified dead might not have been an immutable one. Surviving spells, prescriptions, and apotropaic devices attest to the prevalent fear of nightmares while the intricate steps one could take to ensure safety in the night emphasize the tangible nature of these fears. To protect themselves against such demons of the dark, sleeping mortals could access the same potent energies that restored order and kept at bay the chaotic enemies of the sun-god himself.

Nightmares: A Jewish Approach to Bad Dreams[2]

Humans have long pondered our need for sleep, and the physical and mental harm that sleep deprivation causes. However, ancient sages saw a spiritual reason for sleep. When the Holy One Blessed be He, created man, the ministering angels mistook Adam for a divine being and wished to exclaim “Holy” before him. What does this resemble? A king and governor were riding together in a chariot. The king’s subjects wished to greet their king with cries of “Sovereign,” but they did not know which one was the king. What, then, did the king do? He pushed the governor out of the chariot and thereby the subjects knew who the king was. Similarly said Rabbi Hoshya, when G-d created Adam the angels mistook him (for G-d). What, then, did the Holy One blessed be He do? He caused sleep to fall upon him, and thereby all knew he was a human being! (Bereshit Rabbah 8:10). According to this Midrash, sleep was created to differentiate humans from G-d. It is a sign of our weakness. For hours of the day, every human gives up complete control of themselves. This is to inspire humility. Sometimes, sleep is not so restful. We have all woken up trembling, sweating, and in fear of our lives without any hope of return to sleep. Ever wonder why this happens?
Scientists have put forward physical and psychological reasons for why we experience nightmares. Nightmares tend to occur during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep episodes. These REM episodes become more frequent as the night progresses, so nightmares often occur in the latter portions of our sleep, during the early morning for most people. Nightmares frequently concern being unable to escape danger, falling, or reliving a traumatic experience. Unlike night terrors, which occur soon after going to bed and are not experienced as dreams, we do remember our nightmares. Sometimes nightmares can have physical triggers, such as eating just before sleep, or taking drugs such as antidepressants or antihypertensives, or conversely, trying to stop drinking alcohol or sleeping pills. Paradoxically, sleep deprivation can also increase the likelihood of nightmares, as can sleep apnea (where breathing is impeded during sleep, causing episodes of waking while gasping for breath). Finally, nightmare disorder (often hereditary) can cause nightmares. Nightmares may have serious physical consequences, such as an increased risk for obesity and heart disease, while those suffering from depression are more likely to consider suicide. Psychological explanations for nightmares have also been offered. About 100 years ago, Sigmund Freud taught that dreams were a way to access our subconscious, and interpreting these was a key element of psychoanalysis. Nightmares would reveal thoughts and desires that we were not aware of in our daily life, but which manifested in such things as a slip of the tongue (where we might says a word that seems totally out of place, which revealed what was secretly on our mind) or a persistent thought (which could be a song or poem that included a key word or concept). Today, many psychiatrists believe that dreams serve the purpose of allowing us to work out emotional or problem-solving issues. Nightmares may thus convey an ongoing, unresolved spiritual conflict. I have argued previously that nightmares enable us to cultivate compassion for the other we do not understand. For example, I believe that nightmares are gifts from God enabling us to access a painful situation without really having to experience the pain of the experience. This helps us to cultivate empathy if we choose to consider our self-improvement after our bad dreams. In fact, Rabbi Zeira taught, “if a man goes seven days without a dream, he is called evil,” and Rabbi Huna taught that “a good man is not shown a good dream, and a bad man is not shown a bad dream” (Berachot 55b). Perhaps this comes to teach us that, on some level, we need the human vulnerability of bad dreams to remain humble, sensitive, and empathetic. We must actively choose to use our dreams as a vehicle for deepening our spiritual and ethical sensitivities. Abraham was the first to have a nightmare in the Torah. “And it happened, as the sun was about to set, a deep sleep fell upon Abraham; and behold—a dread! Great darkness fell upon him” (Genesis 15:12). Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, the great 18th-century German scholar, interpreted Abraham’s experience in a unique way. The answer had to experience figuratively the endless night and dread and the exulting awakening therefrom so that it could be grasped more surely and more deeply and be handed down with all the certainty of something that had already been lived through. This opens up a new way to understand nightmares from a theological perspective. Perhaps G-d provides us with experiences outside of reality in order to prepare us to handle real situations within our reality. We are more prepared for a negative life experience in our lives since we have already “encountered” it. Further, we are better able to digest a painful situation because we explored it more deeply in the unconscious realm. Sometimes, of course, nightmares can tragically terrorize someone and they may require prayer and therapy. But hopefully, we will all know as many positive things in our lives as possible, and our dreams and nightmares can be healing tools that prepare us to proceed along more difficult journeys.

When you awake from a nightmare give thanks; that the evil did not overtake you; give thanks for the many blessings you have been given; think, remember His goodness.

The Mass: The Perfect Thanksgiving[3]

Men have not only prayed in thanksgiving, but have offered in thanksgiving: something that was a sign of themselves, to show they were thankful for life, were sorry for their sins against the Giver of life, would give their lives in return, if they might, to the One they owe so much. They made offerings in thanks for the things that sustain life, for the preservation of life. "Abel also offered of the firstlings of his flock, and of their fat." . . . "So Noe went out, he and his sons, his wife and the wives of his sons . . . all living things went out of the ark. And Noe built an altar unto the Lord: and taking of all cattle and fowl that were dean, offered holocausts upon the altar. . . ." They made bloody offerings, because the offering is a symbol of the offerer, and blood is the essence of life. Blood is life. There were other offerings. . . . "Melchidesech, the king of Salem, bringing forth bread and wine, for he was the priest of the most high God, blessed him and said: Blessed be Abram by the most high God, who created heaven and earth." . . . Because bread maintains life, and wine enhances life. God told them what to sacrifice, and how to sacrifice; but especially He told them to make the sacrifice of the Pasch, because it was a memorial to their freedom and their protection, a memorial of thanksgiving to the God who loved them. ". . . and it shall be a lamb without blemish, a male, one year . . . and the whole multitude of the children of Israel shall sacrifice it in the evening." . . . "And this day shall be a memorial unto you: and you shall keep it a feast to the Lord . . . for with a strong hand the Lord hath brought you out of this place." He brought them through water, led them by fire, fed them with manna, and when they sinned against Him, He chastised them and accepted their sacrifices of expiation. He made it part of their Law, their Covenant, that they were to offer sacrifice: of reparation, of petition, of praise, of thanksgiving.

Then Christ came.

When it was time for the thing to happen for which He came, He said to the Apostles: "This is My body, which is being given for you; do this, in remembrance of Me." And He said: "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which shall be shed for you." This was the new covenant, the new Pasch . . . "in My blood," He said. From that moment on they were to make sacrifice "in My blood." The offering is a symbol of the offerer. Blood is the essence of life. This is our gift to offer: His Body and Blood, every day. Think of all the things the Redemption accomplished, and do not forget this last: to put into our hands the perfect Gift, the pure Victim — "holy and spotless, the holy bread of everlasting life and the chalice of everlasting salvation." With the sacrifice of Holy Mass, Catholics make their thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Day History[4]

Thanksgiving Day is a celebration of giving thanks for the harvest and blessings of the past year. It is a day of giving thanks to God for his many blessings and expressing our gratitude to friends and family members. It is celebrated in the United States. Thanksgiving Day dates back to the Reformation Period and is accompanied by prayers, special ceremonies, and feasts. Thanksgiving is observed on the fourth Thursday in November each year.

Thanksgiving Day Facts & Quotes

·         The first Thanksgiving Day feast was held in 1621 between the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Indians.
·         In 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.
·         According to the US Government Census, in 2014, 242 million turkeys were raised in the United States.
·         President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the fourth Thursday in November as the official Thanksgiving Day in 1941.
·         Thanksgiving is almost here.  It's my favorite holiday, which is surprising since I'm no fan of giving or saying thanks. - Stephen Colbert

Thanksgiving Day Top Events and Things to Do

·         Watch or attend a Parade.  The largest are the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in New York and the McDonalds Thanksgiving parade in Chicago.
·         Eat lots of traditional Thanksgiving food including turkey, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes.
·         Watch or attend a football game.  Besides NFL, there are many college and high school football games on this day.
·         Go running or do some other form of exercise in the morning - so you won't feel so guilty indulging a grand Thanksgiving meal.
·         Talk to relatives and friends by phone, email, or internet to remind them how thankful you are that they are all part of your life.

Thanksgiving: Plimoth Plantation Plymouth, Massachusetts[5]

At Plimoth Plantation, it’s always 1627. The living museum and its costumed “residents” re-create New England’s first successful European settlement as well as a Native village. Thanksgiving dinner has its roots in a harvest celebration that 52 Pilgrims shared with 90 members of the Wampanoag tribe in 1621, one year after the settlers sailed from England. It included fowl (probably ducks and geese rather than turkey), venison, corn, and most likely fresh and dried fruits and vegetables. Every fall Plimoth Plantation re-creates a harvest meal from that period as well as serving a classic American Thanksgiving dinner.

Daily Devotions
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         Please pray for me and this ministry

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