In the Little Shtetl of Vaysechvoos: Malke’s Dream
Malke knew better than anyone else in Vaysechvoos how to dream. It was one of the discoveries that never failed to surprise and delight Yonkel. Perhaps that is why, after twenty years of living as man and wife, Yonkel still referred to Malke as his bride.”
“Malke keeps our marriage filled with wonder. Maybe that is why I still see her as my sweet bride.” Yonkel smiled.
Each morning, Malke would entertain her husband by giving a full account of her “adventures” of the previous night. Like the time she dreamt she rode on a huge bird who flew her from one exotic place to another. The bird transported her to colorful markets where she met all kinds of peoples who sold her all kinds of merchandise (at a very good price!). Malke could describe the texture, pattern or taste of every dream purchase she made, and the creature which bore her from one village to the next-Yonkel had to close his eyes to imagine the picture Malke painted with her words:
“The distance between its wing tips was the distance between one end of our village and the other,” Malke said. “It had four bulging eyes, one in the front and one in the back of its head, as well as one on each side so that it was able to plot its course with accuracy,” she informed her husband.
In addition, the creature had long beautiful feathers, bright green and blue and gold like a peacock, only they were as sturdy as the goose quills a scribe would use. Such were the stories which Malke carefully related to her husband.
But there was another dream which Malke had on more than one occasion, and she was afraid to describe it to anyone, even her Yonkel. A recurring dream, she knew, often meant an important message from the world beyond. She longed to ask the sage of Vaysechvoos to interpret her dream, but if she told him the tale, he would, well . . . she knew it was best not to, say anything.
The dream began with her own death, which she seemed to be witnessing from above. She watched herself, an elderly, silver-haired Malke, sitting in the kitchen, cutting carrots for the evening’s soup. She noted with satisfaction the contented expression of the old woman who gently laid her head down on the table.
There seemed to be no pain as the body was strangely still and the spirit rose to the air like a breath that had been softly exhaled. Still dreaming, Malke began to see the world through the eyes of her neshumah.
She could smell the freshly turned earth and knew that her dream had taken her to her own funeral. This made Malke both happy and sad. How she longed to comfort her family. Yet the tears of her husband and children showed her that she was greatly loved and would be missed. The words of reflection by the rabbi praised her accomplishment as a good mother and wife, and all who were present nodded their assent. Each neighbor recalled kindnesses that Malke had long forgotten.
The frightening part of the dream began as Malke turned from the sight of her loved ones and found herself staring into the featureless face of the Angel of Death. It was like looking into a void.
The Angel took her by the hand and led her silently through a door to a place where everything was as cold and white as the biggest snowstorm you could imagine. But there was no sound of wind, no ice or snow, in fact there was absolutely nothing but cold whiteness. Malke couldn’t tell if she were standing, sitting or upside down. She had no sense of weight or motion. All she could feel was the coldest cold from head to toe–colder than freezing.
Then she felt the hand of the Malach Ha-Moves move her into another place. This one was hot-hotter than any fire and as dark as the former place had been bright.
Whereas the first place had been entirely silent, the other echoed a cacophony of howling and screaming and animal sounds so loud and high-pitched that one almost did not feel the heat for the pain of the sound. Malke was so terrified that she, too, wanted to scream out, but she did not for she was even more terrified of hearing her own voice become a part of that place.
Again a hand reached out to Malke. This time it was a different hand, a reassuring hand. As that hand touched her, the searing pain and scorching heat of that awful place vanished. Instead of screams and howls an amazing serenity enveloped Malke’s being. It was more calm and peaceful than a summer s breeze in Vaysechvoos and much more beautiful than a field of wild flowers. With a surge of joy which could never again turn to sorrow, Malke realized that this could only be Gan Eden.
And, like a peasant, she knelt to kiss the hand of the one who had brought her to this perfect place. The person was so brilliant that it was hard to see his features for the brightness which seemed to light up what Malke now could see was a beautiful garden bursting with colors and fragrances such as she had never imagined. But as she went to press her lips to the hand which was still holding hers, she saw the scars it bore. Hardly daring to turn the hand over, she suddenly knew what she would find. The scars on both sides were the mark of one who had been pierced.
The Pierced One. She knew he was worshipped by the gentiles. She had seen the statue out in front of the gentile “synagogue.” And while it made sense in her dream, once Malke awoke she could only feel frightened and confused. How could it be, that this one would bring her to Gan Eden … could it be?
The rooster crowed, and Yonkel woke from his sleep. He stretched his arms as though trying to grasp the sky, then clasped his hands behind his head, looking up at his beloved Malke who had long since awakened.
“So where have you been, Malkeleh, and what news can you bring me from the worlds beyond?”
Malke quickly searched her mind for another dream she could tell her husband.
“Well, Yonkeleh, there was this golden apple which looked as though it would be delicious to eat. But when I went to bite into it, I noticed that the skin was so delicate, you could see right through it. And inside was not a core and seeds but a whole village of tiny people…”
“Ah,” Yonkel murmured. “And then?”
Malke went on with her story. She wouldn’t tell the other dream to anyone in Vaysechvoos. Well, maybe she would tell Yonkel one day–when her hair turned silver.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”–
Director of Communications, Missionary
Susan Perlman is one of the co-founders of Jews for Jesus. Susan is the associate executive director of Jews for Jesus and also director of communications for the organization. She also serves as the editor in chief of ISSUES, their evangelistic publication for Jewish seekers. She left a career track in New York City to help launch Jews for Jesus in San Francisco in the early 1970s. See more here.