I have a few recurring dreams. One of which is wandering aimlessly around a school setting, miserably late to take an important test. A dream interpreter might point out that I am worried about a deadline or wrestling with the idea of disappointing others. Another interpreter might say that I still feel traumatized by my high school science and math classes (not my best subjects.) And finally, another analyst might ask me what it means to feel tested.
When struggling with an aspect of our lives, we often used the phrase, “We are being tested.” It is the terminology used when discussing Abraham and his trials. That in leaving his home and family, casting Hagar into the wilderness, and being asked to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham’s faith was tested, conveying his ultimate loyalty to God. And while Abraham is personified as having passed God’s test, I find fault with the idea of God testing humanity.
As portrayed in my dream, I am uncomfortable with “passing the test” to win someone’s favor. Likewise, I do not believe God is testing any of us when we face illness, hardships, personal or professional difficulties. That isn’t the God I believe in. Those aren’t the relationships I believe in. A test conveys both perfection and failure. If you pass the test, you belong. If you fail, you are cast aside. While any relationship should have expectations, real connection is based on a trust and commitment to work through inevitable disappointments.
In its final interpretation, perhaps my recurring dream is a reminder to us all: we must refrain from “testing” each other. Rather, if we are looking for a genuine, authentic bond, with each other, and with God, then relationship building begins not with a test. Relationship building begins with Avraham’s voice, “Hineni.” I am here. No final exam. Just a willingness to show up. That is a dream worth repeating.
In partnership with The Jewish Journal, you can also find Rabbi Guzik’s blog post HERE.