Excerpt from “The Dream and Its Interpretation,” by A. D. Gordon, translated by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen
A. D. Gordon (1856-1922) was an early Zionist and pioneer in the Land of Israel. His words, written 100 years ago in totally different circumstances, resonate today when we read them through the lenses of climate change and environmental degradation.
We dreamed, you and I,
my brother and my sister,
interpreter it has none,
an ancient dream it is,
as the days when we went forth from exile,
but you forgot it or did not elucidate it for yourselves,
and I did not recount it to you.
Grand is the dream,
vast like the void of the universe,
and we long for it with our souls,
but I will not remind you of it this time,
except for a small fragment/excerpt.
Now, please hear, my brother,
please hear my dream, my sister,
and remember that you also dreamed as I did.
In my dream–and here it is,
I arrive at the land.
And the land is neglected and desolate
and is in the hands of foreigners,
and the destruction darkens the light of her face
and destroys her spirit,
and an alien government corrupts her.
Distant from me and strange to me
is the land of my ancestors,
and I, too, am distant from her and a stranger to her.
The single connection that ties me to her,
and the lone memory that reminds me
that she is my mother and I am her son,
is–because my soul is also desolate
for it, too, fell into the hands of foreigners,
to destruct it and destroy it.
I feel the destruction and I ponder the ruins
with all my soul
and with every ounce of my being,
and a divine voice goes forth from the ruins and declares,
“Mortal! Consider these ruins,
and consider them once again,
turn not a blind eye to them.
And you shall know and gain insight
to what you already understand,
that the destruction is the destruction of your soul,
and the destroyer is the destroyer in your life,
in the midst of which you lived in foreign lands
and which clung to you until this time.
for your redemption requires this!
And as you continue to ponder and to dig deeper,
you shall see that from below the ruins
an orphan cinder still whispers,
saved by hiding from the spirit of that life,
and the spirit of the land breathes upon it
to bring it to life.
And when it totally abandoned that life,
which others created,
when you left their land and arrived here
to create a new life for yourself, your life–
then cinder smoldered and lived,
glowed and brought forth its flame,
and you returned and lived,
and your people and your land returned and lived.
Rabbi Katy Allen is a board certified chaplain and serves as a Nature Chaplain and the Facilitator of One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spirit. She is the founder and rabbi of Ma’yan Tikvah – A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long. She is a co-convener and coordinator of the Boston-based Jewish Climate Action Network.