Weekly Story: “Is It A Dream Or Is It Real?”

by Rabbi Sholom DovBer Avtzon

Chassidim once asked the Rebbe the Tzemach Tzedek: “What is the purpose of learning Chassidus now, if the level of pnimiyus hatorah that will be revealed when Moshiach comes will be much deeper? So in essence, we are not learning the real thing!”

The Tzemach Tzedek replied with a parable.

Once, an important person visited his friend in a small town. Everyone understood that this visit signified that something big was going to happen. They all wanted to know what it was, but the friend just shrugged his shoulders.

Somehow they found out where their meeting would be taking place. Some of the stood behind the door and others were outside under the window, but they were able to pick up only small fragments of the conversation, which they couldn’t put together and get a true insight of what the discussion was about.
However, when the event did happen, those who heard the fragments exclaimed, “Aha! That is what I heard!”

The same thing is with us,” continued the Tzemach Tzedek. “When Moshiach comes, we who learn Chassidus will be able to have that euphoric feeling and exclaim, “Aha! That is what we were discussing in the Chassidus that we learnt!”

With that in mind, I decided to post an insight of the Rebbe on last week’s parshah, parshas Vayeitzeh, which was brought to my attention by Malka. While the Rebbe told it to her many years ago, to us Anash, it is a new teaching of the Rebbe. May it be a harbinger of the Torah Chadashah Mei’eeti Teitzei, with the coming of Moshiach, may it be speedily in our days.

Last week she wrote to me:

Looking at this week:

Yaakov has a dream but Rashi says it was actually taking place, so what purpose is there in Yaakov getting this revelation/ information through a “dream” rather than a vision (as “Chazon Yeshayahu”)?

To clarify my question: Other dreams such as Yossef’s or Pharaoh’s or the Sar Hamashkim & Sar Haofim are not happening during the dream but are prophetic of future events, but here Yaakov is “dreaming” of what is actually/really happening so why the need to lie down and sleep – could he not see these ascending and descending angels while fully awake (as he later send real angels to Esov or battles with Esov’s angel)?

A dream diminishes reality because the person is not fully conscious. Moshe’s prophecy was superior to lower forms (as Billam) because it was while he was awake.
(Rebbe once told me that the entire Exile is no more than like a dream as the possuk says “ho’yinu k’cholimin”, and the example of comparing it to a dream is specific: just as by a dream, Chazal tell us that dreams are dependent on how they are interpreted, so also all events of Golus are dependent on how we interpret them into our lives and what we make out of them in serving Hashem).

I answered whatever I answered. However, my reply didn’t explain why when Yaakov met the angels at the end of Parshas Vayeitzei it was not in a dream. Furthermore, it didn’t address a bigger question —why in both instances the angels greeted Yaakov before he reached the border (see below for a greater elaboration of this question).
The following was her response.

Here is explanation I was told by the Rebbe:

Yaakov was still in Eretz Yisroel at Bais El (which is distant from the border) when he saw the angels of Chutz L’Aretz coming to greet him (and angels of Eretz Yisroel ascending).

(Likewise, upon his return at Machanoyim which is still a distance from the border of Eretz Yisroel he is already greeted by the angels of Eretz Yisroel).
Shouldn’t the angels of Chutz L’Aretz greet him when he enters Chutz L’Aretz [and not earlier]?

[The answer is]
A person is where his mindset is. Yaakov was going to Chutz L’Aretz – already in Bais El the angels of Eretz Yisroel ascended and he was with angels of Chutz L’Aretz because his focus and mindset was on Chutz L’Aretz.

A Jew in Chutz L’Aretz is a Jew in golus (exile). And golus is a dream. [See above what dream means].
Upon his return, Yaakov’s mindset was on Eretz Yisroel. Already in Machanoyim he was greeted by angels of Eretz Yisroel because his mindset was on Eretz Yisroel. This wasn’t a dream because a Jew’s reality is to be in Eretz Yisroel in a state of geulah.

Golus is presented as a dream. Geulah is a state of awakening.

This is what she heard from the Rebbe.

Now obviously the Rebbe said this in response to a question of hers and did not stop just to share an insight on the parsha. So when I sent it to her to review for accuracy, she explained:

I remember he elaborated a bit on the above-mentioned point, as a personal lesson and message to me (because I had often raised the question of why Hashem did what He did to me and to all of us that suffer so much in golus – we are His children and He loves us, is that how a Father treats the children He loves?! And why He hasn’t yet kept His promise to bring Moshiach – even I, “an Angry and Rebellious Daughter of Hashem” who ran and settled in a town where there are no other Jews nearby, keep my promise of keeping kashrus and Shabbos, [and all inter-related mitzvos, as the Rebbe connected them to me], so why does He delay in keeping His?!):

The essence of the Rebbe’s reply to me was: “A Jew in Chutz L’Aretz is a Jew in golus. And golus is a dream. [See above what dream means].”

I am not sure of exact wording or expressions the Rebbe used, but this is what I took of what he said:

In golus, as in a dream, a person can experience things that don`t make sense. A dream can be frightening. In a dream things can take place that defy logic. The dreamer can occupy himself with illogical pursuits and desire things that harm him, because the dream creates a false reality for the person and pulls him into this false world of dreams and golus. Just as we cannot question the “logic” of our dreams: “why did this happen?” or even, “why did I do that?”, so also we cannot question the dream of the golus. When the geulah (redemption) arrives, when we are awake, we will then say, “Aha, so that’s why it happened! Because we were dreaming, we acted foolish and pursued harmful things because our mind was not functioning properly as it does when awake”.

Again, not sure of exact words but that was the message I took.

I [Sholom Avtzon] would like to add that the Rebbe discussed this topic in Cheshvan 5721 (printed in Toras Menachem vol. 19, pp. 188-189). There, he explained that when Yaakov (and subsequently every Jew) was on the way toward fulfilling his mission, it wasn’t a certainty that he would succeed, so it was like a dream. It was unclear if and to what extent he will succeed.

However, when Yaakov returned with all of his children being righteous, that demonstrated that he had indeed succeeded in his mission. Then, Hashem revealed Himself to him openly and not merely in a dream.

However, as we all know, on many topics the Rebbe gave various insights, and we are indeed fortunate to receive another teaching and directive of the Rebbe in these final moments of golus. Let us bring the Aleph into the Hebrew word Golah, and transform it into Geulah.

May we all be inscribed and sealed this Tuesday, Yud Tes Kislev (which is called in Lubavitch Chag Hachagim and Rosh Hashanah L’Chassidus), for a good year in the study of Chassidus and the paths of Chassidus.

As a personal note, I am well aware of the feeling that this series deserves to be recorded by “My Encounter” and I personally agree with that. However, Malka has her reasons why she chose this venue, and I am thankful for the trust and the zechus to be the conduit for her to publicize a part of the greatness of the Rebbe. It has indeed inspired thousands of Jews throughout the world.

That being said, it is possible that others too have been told insights in their brief encounter with the Rebbe and have their reasons not to go public on video etc. Perhaps you feel that it was just a simple question and answer. But that insight can be so meaningful to so many others and therefore please share it with us. I offer to you, please consider contacting me, and if you desire, I will honor your request of anonymity. Thank you.

L’zchus Chaim Schneur Zalman ben Miriam and Shmuel Yaakov ben Sarah L’refuah shleima bikorov.

Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran mechanech who has written many books on the Rebbeim and their chassidim. His latest book on Reb Binyomin Kletzker is in need of sponsorships. He is available to farbreng in your community and can be contacted at avtzonbooks@gmail.com


  • 1. Thanks! wrote:

    Fascinating deep pshat. Plus extra inspirational insights as a bonus regarding golus and dream interpretations.

  • 2. AMAZING! wrote:

    A discovered gem. However, maybe meforshim already say this. Sometimes in sichos kodesh the Rebbe would adopt partially a pirush from meforshim.

    • 5. Mirel wrote:

      Malka is Mellisa!

      You know, the orphan who was adopted…brought up frum but needed to convert…promised Rebbe to keep Shabbos and Kosher…adopted parents died…went to live in a place that has no Jews…

  • 7. Aliyah! wrote:

    Is the message that we all make aliyah and settle in Israel? Seems that being in Israel is redemption while being in Diaspora is exile.

    • 8. Anonymous wrote:

      I tinker the message was your focus and mentality.
      Yaakov was in Eretz yisroel and the angels of exile came to greet him as his focus was going there.
      Whereas on his return it was vice versa.

      I believe this is similar to the instruction the Tzemach Tzedek gave to a chossid who expressed his wish to go to Eretz yisroel and the Rebbe said to him Reb Hillel Paritcher is not seeking that make and transform here into Eretz yisroel.

    • 13. To Anon wrote:

      “I believe this is similar to the instruction the Tzemach Tzedek gave to a chossid who expressed his wish to go to Eretz yisroel and the Rebbe said to him Reb Hillel Paritcher is not seeking that make and transform here into Eretz yisroel.”

      Take, how could the angels of EY leave the Land to go greet Yaakov at Machanoyim, there is a prohibition from leaving EY?

      Maybe because Yaakov literally made the place EY by his mindset of going to EY. So temporarily EY “expanded” till Machanoyim!

      May EY soon expand to all the countries of the world as promised when Moshiach comes.

  • 14. Ad Mosai wrote:

    “And why He hasn’t yet kept His promise to bring Moshiach” – that is right. AD MOSAI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Daloy golus!!!!!!!!!!!! Enough is enough!!!!!!!!!!!! Moshiach NOW!!!!!!

    • 15. Only 12-15 !!!! wrote:

      Why only 12-15 exclamations? A weak presentation! Put 100-100000000 exclamations to show you want NOW!

  • 16. Rabbi K from BMG wrote:

    Firstly, this is mamash an enjoyable read. Secondly, my daas Torah (the Rosh Yeshiva) told me to satisfy my teshuka for nostar by studying zohar. Thirdly, I write this with utmost resoect. Fourthly, I did not see the referrred to Cheshvan 5721 (printed in Toras Menachem vol. 19, pp. 188-189).

    The Zohar says this pirush of Toras Menachem!

    Zohar daf kuf mem tes, bais (Vilna) states:

    When Yaakov was returning to EY with the sevotim AND with with compete akeres habayis (wives) and eim habonim semaicha, only then did Hashem appear to him (not in a dream), as stated 35,9 Hashem appeared to him and later (46) Hashem told him in night vision – which was not a dream, however, earlier Yitzchok was alive and he was without a wife and shevotim…

    When a Zohar says this, it is odd to attribute this to Toras Menachem!

    I ask this with greatest of respect.

    • 17. Crown Heightser wrote:

      Are you bringing proof to the sicha? Or are you asking a contradiction. If proof:The Rebbe doesn’t need your help. If contradiction: Explain.

    • 18. Chassidus vs Zohar wrote:

      K, your daas Torah giver has no clue what chassidus is and thinks that learning Zohar will satisfy your “teshuka for nostar by studying zohar”. Lots of Moroccan Jews for example study Zohar but have no idea of Chassidic concepts. Asking your daas Torah about chassidus is like asking a fish how to drive a car.

    • 19. Berl wrote:

      Reb K of BMG – is your kasha on the pshat revealed by Malka or on the pshat revealed in sicha 5721?

    • 20. Rabbi Sholom Avtzon wrote:

      First of all thank for correcting my typo it is vol. 29 not vol 19.
      Concerning your final question of why I attribute it to the Rebbe and not the zohar, the answer is twofold.
      A. I learned it from the Rebbe as I don’t have a seder to learn zohar.
      B. I am positive that you quoted the zohar correctly. But for most people how does that translate into your life.
      Is it just because you are married and have emese nachas from your wonderful children or is there a deeper meaning.
      In that sicha the Rebbe explained it in a way that is applicable to each and every person.
      So even if I did know the zohar the explanation and directive is not clear at least to me from the zohar but from the sicha it is.
      And yes whatever the Rebbe says is based on Torahseinu hakedosha.

      This brings us to your question about the need of learning Chassidus. I hesitated to reply previously but in the week of Yud Tes kislev I will answer.
      The names of mashpiim are well known and obviously you will say that they are nogeah biduvor so you might be hesitating in asking them.
      So I will advise you to ask the Mashgiach of Yeshiva Torah Vdaas, Harav Wolfson Shlita. He understands the challenge of someone in the Yeshiva World learning Chassidus Chabad and he also knows of the necessity to do so, so he is the perfect person to ask his daas Torah.
      May you merit the brocha of the first mishna in Avos chapter 6 and the secrets of the Torah are revealed to him and that is throughTorah Hachassidus.

    • 21. Rabbi K from BMG wrote:

      Applying the Zohar explanation in life situations: A person without a wife does not have simcha and therefore even on a madraiga of Yaakov, the shchina only appears in a dream. Hashem only talks to him after he is married with all his wives. This means that a wife adds to a person’s ruchniyus and sheleimus. Also, until a person has children he cannot speak directly to Hashem. This is like a chazzon that needs a wife and children to properly daven for them and the tzibur.

    • 22. Rabbi K from BMG wrote:

      The Rosh Yeshiva in BMG does not have a high opinion of Harav Wolfson or in general about Chabad.

    • 23. YYJ wrote:

      R’ MK can join Satmar of London that also claim Lubavitch as “damaging” to their ways. See related news item on this site.

    • 25. fish driving a car wrote:

      A yovon in sukka. A galach in yeshiva. I think you mean: like a fish riding a bicycle.

    • 26. ??????????? wrote:

      You must be replying to “Chassidus vs Zohar – Asking your daas Torah about chassidus is like asking a fish how to drive a car”, .but put it here.

  • 27. BR Student wrote:

    Why is she a rebellious daughter, she keeps most mitzvos and is chassidish and mekushur? Is she rebellious in tzniyus? If she is angry maybe she needs Anger Management which helped me tonz.

    • 28. Morah wrote:

      Dear BR Student, help is available. Contact a Morah, Menaheles or even try contacing Malks direct as a few apparently tried and succeeded. But get help! Morah S

  • 29. Scoffer wrote:

    Maybe next Malka will share a previously unheard maamar! Tora chadasha. Literally. Ridiculous. I am bot drinking the Kool Aid.

    • 31. Anonymous wrote:

      That is why it is important to read that the Rebbe said in context to her question

    • 33. Anonymous wrote:

      It adds and clarifies
      Reading the beginning that golus is a dream and dreams come out as they are interpreted might not be clearly understood.
      But then Malka wrote that it was in response to her ongoing query of why so much suffering and the Rebbe was responding to that using this to answer.
      But the context tells us what the Rebbe meant by these words

  • 34. Shimshon wrote:

    A lady repeating a dvar Torah she heard 50-60 years ago might lose a bit of the original, don’t you think?

    I am just being pragmatic. Nalka is not some genius with a photographic memory that can repeat word by word what she was told.

    She is a simple woman who was going through difficult times, got kiruvim from Rebbe, and had access to him. But that does not make her a “choizer” and able to give out “hanochos”.

    I admire the strength of her character and her achievements in self-growth and dedication to her promises, but a godol b’Torah she isn’t.

    Let us not make her into something she isn’t.

    • 35. Anonymous wrote:

      She writes clearly “I am not sure of exact wording ir expressions of the Rebbe” so you are correct she is not a choizer.
      However. It was a monumental answer to her and she writes that her impression was and remains….
      So that is something she can definately recall accurately.

    • 36. Chauvinist wrote:

      What diff does it make if it is “a lady” or a man? You seem to imply that a lady is less capable of understanding than a man. Bina yeseira nitna l’isha!

      A ‘simple woman”?! She sounds educated and in the medical field! Also we were told she has a stron background from Gateshead Seminary.

      She learned by herself the laws of building an Eiruv. That is not simple!

      You need to change your attitude about women!

    • 37. lefi aniyas daati wrote:

      Rebbe spent time telling her things because she is shayach to deep thoughts. She must be smart and very spiritual and a high neshoma.

  • 38. To Rabbi Avtzon wrote:

    Did Malka ever meet with Vikki-Esther? What happened there? It was a cliffhanger in an earlier story! Please reply!

    • 40. Rabbi Sholom Avtzon wrote:

      The answer is yes.
      But it is up to them to decide what to publicize and what not.
      I post only the parts of my dialogue with Malka that I feel is beneficial to Anash and our readership in general.

    • 41. Oh right! What happened??? wrote:

      How did they meet at Ohel without knowing what each other looks like? Did anyone notice them shmoozing? What was the outcome?

    • 42. Tell us please!!! wrote:

      Do you only share the good stuff at paid speaking events? Come on, you know what happened, so tell us about it. Like was Vikki somehow related to Malka…or did some wild hashgacha protis take place…come on, please!!!


    Is she for real or is it all a dream shared with rabbi avtzon, yakov dream,s yosef dreams, paroh dreams, sar hamashkim dreams, sar haofim drwams, malka dreams

    • 46. To you and Scoffer and all Amaleik wrote:

      No secular woman living among goyim – not attending shiyurim or access to Torah, can come up with such a gem of a pirush. Especially when it fits so well with a sicha said back in 5721 almost 50 years ago. Avtzon himself and most people I know are not shayach to such a deep pirush.

  • 47. Shteibel Hopper wrote:

    ” Some of the stood behind the door and others were outside under the window, but they were able to pick up only small fragments of the conversation, which they couldn’t put together and get a true insight of what the discussion was about.”

    I think also Malka couldn’t put together and get a true insight of what the discussion was about. We are hearing bits and pieces.

    • 48. Yaakov wrote:

      Perfect analogy
      She had these incredible interactions with the Rebbe and we are the ones that are hearing just snippets of it.
      It would be beautiful if she is willing to put everything she heard from the Rebbe in the open.
      But by bashing others we aren’t going to convince her.
      Let us be thankful for this and let her realize how beneficial it is to us.

    • 49. Mendel wrote:

      She is smart for not coming out in the open. She would be interrogated by every yenta and yachna. She would be questioned non stop and given free advice about how to live, what to do and what to say. She is a smart lady for keeping away.

    • 50. To Mendel wrote:

      A tipish says whatever is on his tongue. You just ruined any chance of Malka giving a JEM interview or speaking at a girls school. You are a total tipish. It doesn’t matter if it is true what you wrote or not – we can argue, but for sure you are a total tipish.

    • 51. Chazak to Mendel wrote:

      No, Mendel, you did the RIGHT thing. Clearly you care about Malka and want to protect her from being exploited and forced to bare her life and soul. No one should be subjected to that unless they want it. Who wants their private life videoed and shared with the world? Maybe the teens of today with Instagram and Facebook give up all their privacy, but normal people with a bit of maturity run away for public exposure.

  • 52. JEM wrote:

    What are her reasons for not going to JEM? she once said something about an underlined Hayom Yom but you disagree with her?

  • 53. Disappointed wrote:

    I enjoyed all the previous Malka Stories. I compliment you for presenting the story in a way that is enjoyable to read. There was drama, real life issues and practical lessons that inspire. I was excited to read this instalment but then became disappointed. This one was simply a vort. What a letdown!

    • 54. Anonymous wrote:

      A vort and yes What a beautiful one.
      Plus it has applications to our daily life.
      Isn’t that what yud daled kislev was all about being and strengthening our connection to the Rebbe and how better than koching and enjoying one of his teachings that was unknown.
      Personally I thank Rabbi Avtzon for posting it even though he knows that some people will ridicule him.

    • 55. Kop Doktar wrote:

      Not every episode in life is dramatic, entertaining or exciting. Sometimes life is just life. And that is the beauty of life. This installment has no drama, no entertainment, just real life.

  • 56. Yoili wrote:

    Chus veshulem, you make Rebbe into a tziyoini by saying such shtisim. Aliya is when called up to Toireh.

  • 59. Ridicule wrote:

    “Rabbi Avtzon knows that some people will ridicule him”

    Some people ridicule me when I am doing mivtzoyim.

    Some people ridicule me when I wake up for morning seder chassidus on a Friday, after being up late the night before.

    Some people ridicule me for davening slowly on Shabbos and finishing an hour after the minyan.

    Yes, people will ridicule everything that is good.

    That is why the first halacha in A.R.S.A. is not to be influenced by those who ridicule.

    There are two kinds of people in the world, the “maligim” (ridicules) and the chasidim who are nor nispoel from the maligim.

  • 60. Shlucha wrote:

    My Dearest and Lovely Malka,
    Once again I am moved and inspired by you. I feel like I know you. You are my sister yet you remain a stranger as you play hide and seek while living among strangers. Come home to any Chabad House as a guest of honor, a true Malka – a Queen. In your travels around the country, make a Chabad House your home and stay for a shabbos. You are a hero and loved by all of us. You are family and we are all your family.
    With sisterly love
    A Shlucha

  • 61. not a hundred comments wrote:

    Strange. A Malka story always gets over 100 comments. Where is everyone?

    • 62. Too Busy wrote:

      Everyone is busy with YT Kislev farbs and Chanuka prep and rough weather and stuff. We read the stories but no time to comment. And Mendel is right! And K of BMF is mixed up. And Shlucha is awesome.


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