Torah Weekly

For the week ending 31 December 2005 / 30 Kislev 5766

Parshat Mikeitz

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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It is two years later. Pharaoh has a dream. He is unsatisfied with all attempts to interpret it. Pharaoh's wine chamberlain remembers that Yosef accurately interpreted his dream while in prison. Yosef is released from prison and brought before Pharaoh. He interprets that soon will begin seven years of abundance followed by seven years of severe famine. He tells Pharaoh to appoint a wise person to store grain in preparation for the famine. Pharaoh appoints him as viceroy to oversee the project. Pharaoh gives Yosef an Egyptian name, Tsafnat Panayach, and selects Osnat, Yosef's ex-master's daughter, as Yosef's wife. Egypt becomes the granary of the world. Yosef has two sons, Menashe and Ephraim. Yaakov sends his sons to Egypt to buy food. The brothers come before Yosef and bow to him. Yosef recognizes them but they do not recognize him. Mindful of his dreams, Yosef plays the part of an Egyptian overlord and acts harshly, accusing them of being spies. Yosef sells them food, but keeps Shimon hostage until they bring their brother Binyamin to him as proof of their honesty. Yosef commands his servants to replace the purchase-money in their sacks. On the return journey, they discover the money and their hearts sink. They return to Yaakov and retell everything. Yaakov refuses to let Binyamin go to Egypt, but when the famine grows unbearable, he accedes. Yehuda guarantees Binyamin's safety, and the brothers go to Egypt. Yosef welcomes the brothers lavishly as honored guests. When he sees Binyamin he rushes from the room and weeps. Yosef instructs his servants to replace the money in the sacks, and to put his goblet inside Binyamin's sack. When the goblet is discovered, Yosef demands Binyamin become his slave as punishment. Yehuda interposes and offers himself instead, but Yosef refuses.


Dreaming Aloud

“…and Pharaoh awoke and behold – it had been a dream!” (41:7)

One of the most uncanny aspects of dreaming is the feeling that the dream is reality. The most bizarre things can happen in a dream and we relate to them as normal: Fish can talk and complain; we can soar into the sky like a jet, or hover over our bedroom like a helicopter; the bank manager can become a walrus (overdraft problems?) and a walrus can make a good cup of tea. And when we awake, there is that strange pivotal moment of emergence when, hanging between two worlds, we are not sure in which reality we are.

“…and Pharaoh awoke and behold – it had been a dream!” The Torah adds the phrase “it had been a dream!” to indicate that the dream was so vivid that Pharaoh thought he had been witnessing real events.

In the Psalm that we recite on Shabbat and Holidays before the blessings after the meal, there is the following phrase, “When G-d returns our captivity, we will be like (awakening) dreamers….

The world as we see it is like a dream. It is as logical as a Mad Hatter’s tea party. Great good seems to go un-rewarded, and great evil unpunished. “Where is G-d?” people ask.

When G-d finally brings us out of the long night of exile, we will rub our eyes like people emerging from a darkened cinema, and we will then realize that we were only dreaming these two thousand of years.

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