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I don't know how many sects actually do this, but some people have the custom to say a tehfillah which is all about dreams. In it we ask Hashem to make all our good dreams come true whether "...I have dreamed about others, or myself, or that others have dreamed about me...".

This Tehfillah is said during Birchas Kohanim on Yom Tov (not during a regular Shabboss in Eretz Yisroel). My question is, why do we ask about dreams of all things when the Kohanim are blessing us?

  • re: on Yom Tov: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/14801/759 – Double AA Aug 14 '12 at 18:36
  • @DoubleAA all he says is why some people say it on yom tov. Not at that point in davening? – shachna Aug 14 '12 at 22:00
  • Yes. You distinguished between Yom Tov in Chu"l and Shabbat in E"Y. I was just linking to more discussion regarding that distinction. – Double AA Aug 14 '12 at 22:01
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The source for mentioning dreams in Birkas Kohanim comes from the Gemara in Berachos 55b

האי מאן דחזא חלמא ולא ידע מאי חזא, ליקום קמי כהני בעידנא דפרסי ידייהו ולימא הכי

The William Davidson (Koren Steinsaltz) translation:

One who saw a dream and does not know what he saw should stand before the priests when they lift their hands during the Priestly Blessing and say the following:

The Gemara then enumerates the prayer that one says during the Priestly Blessing. The Zohar (Part 3 Page 147b) also mentions this custom, and it is cited in the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch (Siman 130).

The Noam Elimelech by Rav Elimelech of Liznesk in Parshas Teruma (ד"ה וזה רמז למה, second column, 6th line from top) states:

על דרך דאיתא בספר למה שאנו אומרים בשעת ברכת כהנים רבונו של עולם חלום חלמתי, הטעם שהחלום הוא אחד מששים בנבואה, והכהנים הוא כולו נבואה שמטעם זה אסור להסתכל בידי הכהנים שהשכינה שורה בידיהם ולכן אנו אומרים רבונו של עולם כדי לבטל החלום בששים

My rough summary/translation:

"We say a prayer for dreams during the Priestly blessing because a dream is one sixtieth of prophecy, and the Priests achieve full prophecy during their blessing, and the dream becomes nullified during the Priestly blessing. For this same reason we are not allowed to look at the hands of the Priests because the Divine Presence rests among them."

The Noam Elimelech writes that Kohanim achieve full prophecy during the Birchas Kohanim, and since dreams are considered 1/60th of a prophecy, the dreams are nullified within the Priestly blessing according to the principle of בטל בשישים - batel bshishim, (from Wikipedia: "nullified in sixty; that is, permissible so long as forbidden ingredients constitute no more than 1/60 of the whole", see this article, especially the introduction and paragraph I for more details about this Halachic principle).

The idea that dreams are 1/60 of prophecy comes from the Gemara in Berachos 57b which states:

חלום אחד מששים לנבואה

The William Davidson (Koren Steinsaltz) translation:

A dream is one-sixtieth part of prophecy.

See this article for more information on this concept.

This works well with the 60 words drash that paquda cited in his answer.

EDIT: I seem to have found an earlier source for the Noam Elimelech's explanation. It is in the Sefer Toras Chaim (.ב"ק נה) by Rabbi Avraham Chaim Shorr (towards the bottom of the first column). I suggest reading it as it gives slightly more context than the short paragraph in Noam Elimelech. He mentions that a Birkas Kohanim is considered prophecy from God because the Kohanim are saying exactly the same words that God commanded to be said, as well as the fact that the verse describes Birkas Kohanim as "ואני אברכם" - "I (God) will bless the Jewish people." He also explicity connects this explanation with the 60 words drasha.

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Yalkut Shim'oni, parashat Naso, remez taf shin yud, expounds Song of Songs verses 3:7-8 in relation to birkat cohanim:

Behold, it is the bed of Solomon; sixty mighty men are about it, of the mighty men of Israel. They all handle the sword, and are expert in war; every man hath his sword upon his thigh, because of dread in the night.

The sixty mighty men are the sixty letters that make up birkat cohanim. The words have the power, like mighty men, to protect us from, among other things, 'dread in the night', i.e, something frightening seen in a dream of the night.

(I saw this Yalkut Shim'oni quoted in relation to birkat cohanim in the siddur Sha'ar HaRachamim, edited by Eliezer Weisfisch.)

The directive to pray concerning a dream during birkat cohanim is in the Gemara, Berachot 55b, http://e-daf.com/index.asp?ID=108&size=1.

  • Great insight above as to the why then...ie.. Why did the amoraim in Brachot daf 55b advise us to say it then. – user2797 May 16 '13 at 12:17

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