Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

22 Adar 5759 - March 10, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







Dreams and Lotteries

by S. Yisraeli

Several weeks ago in the Israeli Lotto lottery, the winning prize of NIS 20 million was divided between the four purchasers of the winning forms, each of which was worth NIS 5 million. A resident of the center of the country won two first prizes, and received NIS 10 million. When he reached the headquarters of the Mifal Hapayis to receive his prize, he noticed the surprise of the directors of the lottery department, who didn't recall a case in which one person had won two first prizes in the very same lottery.

Before the lottery, the man had dreamt that four particular numbers would be the winning ones. The dream repeated itself. Because he had dreamt the same dream twice, he decided to invest the money to fill enough lottery forms to enable him to cover all of the six winning numbers which included the four digits from the dream.

He began to fill lottery forms called "form 5-6," in which one must guess only five numbers, with the sixth number given "free" by the Mifal Hapayis. This form is more expensive than a regular form, and costs NIS 96. The man and his wife filled out 45 forms, on which they marked down the numbers which appeared in the dream. On each form they filled in an additional number, out of the 49 possible numbers of the lottery. This cost them NIS 4,320.

In the end, the four numbers which appeared in his dream were among the winning ones. From the 45 forms, he won two first prizes, as well as a second prize and several smaller ones. All in all, he won ten-and-a-half million shekel.

Of course, this story doesn't constitute a recommendation to rely on dreams, nor in lotteries or in other issues. Chazal said that there is no dream without vain elements, because "dreams speak vanities."

However, this story reminds us of an interesting one involving R' Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, cited in his biography, Guardian of Jerusalem (Ho'ish al Hachoma) written by his great grandson, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Sonnenfeld.

The event took place when R' Chaim was a young yeshiva student in the Pressburg yeshiva. On night, the three winning numbers of the weekly government lottery appeared to him in a dream. When he awoke in the morning, he clearly recalled the three numbers, and weighed whether or not to purchase the tickets. Although he had enough money to buy a lottery form, he felt that since all dreams have vain elements, the entire dream was dubious. Moreover, if he purchased the ticket he would have to forgo a number of meals for which that money was earmarked, something which would cause bitul Torah. This was a case of a doubtful win vs. certain bitul Torah. After considering the matter briefly, he decided not to buy the ticket. He then forgot the entire affair, and returned to his studies.

R' Chaim continued to relate: "I was curious to know what happened with my dream. I went to the ticket dealer's stand in order to check the winning numbers, and was amazed to see that all three of the numbers which I had seen in my dream won."

Later on, whenever he related this story to his family and close acquaintances, he would conclude with a broad smile: "You probably think that I was sorry about what had happened. But the truth is that I didn't give the matter a moment's thought, and it didn't cause me to waste any Torah study time. I forgot about the entire event."

While the conversation was focusing on lotteries and lots, R' Chaim related a story about HaRav Mordechai Banet, the av beis din of Nicholsberg. One time, a certain Jew did him a big favor, and HaRav Banet asked the Jew what he wanted in return. The Jew thought for a moment. Being a simple person, he asked R' Mordechai Banet to reveal the number of the ticket which would win the main prize in the forthcoming lottery. R' Banet smiled over the mundane notions of the Jew, fulfilled his promise and revealed the number.

The Jew marked down the number, and went from stand to stand in search of it. But the ticket with that number was very costly, because it was an expensive type. He searched and didn't find it. Finally, he came across a ticket agent who told him that the ticket with that number had already been sold. He added: "The names and addresses of the buyers appear on the stubs of these particular types of tickets, so that I know who the buyer is. If he agrees, you could buy it back from him at a higher price."

The Jew, who wasn't wealthy, wasn't sure whether it was worthwhile to invest so much money in the ticket. He was undecided.

At last, he had a brainstorm. Before buying the ticket, he would make a test lottery, and see if Rav Banet was right. Satisfied with his idea, he quickly went ahead with the test. Taking a few of sheets of paper, he marked down all of the numbers which appeared on the tickets of this series, which due to its high price hadn't been distributed in large amounts. After spending many hours recording the numbers, he cut the sheets of paper into thin strips, each of which contained the various numbers included in the lottery, and proceeded with the test. How surprised that simple Jew was when he discovered that the number that Rav Banet had revealed to him was indeed the winning one in his test drawing.

Confident, the Jew rushed to the ticket agent and handed him the necessary amount for the ticket he sought. The Jew counted the days, the hours and the moments until the lottery. Impatiently, he looked forward to the day on which he would receive the grand prize. On the slated day, he went to the auditorium of the city council, where the public lottery was held before a large audience. How shocked and disappointed he was when his number wasn't announced, and when someone else won the grand prize.

Filled with sorrow and grief, he returned to R' Mordechai Banet and poured out his bitter heart to him. "Perhaps you scribbled something in the meantime?" R' Mordechai Banet asked.

"Yes," he said with a broken heart, and told R' Mordechai Banet about the "trial lottery." Then and there, R' Mordechai told him, "I told you that this number would win in the lottery, and indeed it did: You wasted my brocho on the test lottery!"

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