Parshas Mikeitz

Rabbi Berel Wein

The dreamer is about to be saved by dreams, albeit not the ones that he dreamt but rather those dreamt by an unlikely stranger – the Pharaoh of Egypt himself. But dreams are dreams, and oftentimes, they do not coincide with human reality. What makes Yosef so extraordinary in the eyes of Pharaoh was his ability to, so to speak, dream along with Pharaoh, interpret his dreams, and translate them into practical life-saving action. The Torah here teaches us an important lesson about life and events. Everyone has dreams, and again, so to speak, they are relatively easy to come by. Nevertheless, it is what follows the dream that counts most. The rabbis and the Talmud taught us that all dreams are judged and realized according to their interpretation. By this statement, they meant to teach us that what is actually done or accomplished with the dream becomes the lasting value of the dream itself. There are many dreams that remain just that – dreams, unfulfilled reveries, good ideas and rosy predictions that somehow never come to action or fruition. Yosef worked his entire life to make his dreams become real and true. He spared no effort to force his brothers to recognize him as their leader and to validate the dreams that he reported to them in his youth. And it was his administrative skill and foresight that made his interpretation of the dreams of the Pharaoh accurate, meaningful, and providential.

It is only the behavior and actions of humans after the dream that give the dream a challenging and meaningful purpose. The Jewish people have long dreamt and prayed for their return to the Land of Israel and for the ingathering of the exiles to their homeland. Over the past century, in unlikely fits and starts, this dream has taken on reality and substance. And, it did so, certainly, with the help and guidance of Heaven, but just as importantly with the actions, achievements and sacrifices of real people and the Jewish world everywhere. This great dream lay dormant for many centuries because no one acted upon it … more of a fantasy than a possible reality. But somehow, the Jewish people awoke from the slumber of the exile and over the past century has succeeded in bringing this dream to physical reality. It is difficult to assess why it was only in the recent past, historically speaking, that the practicality of the dream began to be emphasized and exploited. There were many great people and great Jewish communities that existed before our time who perhaps would have been deemed more worthy to give flesh and bones to the great dream of Israel. Why did they not do so and why did Jews over the last century and a half devote themselves to the realization of this dream? That will remain one of the many mysteries of G-d that surround us on a regular basis. But one thing is clear, that the fate of dreams, national and personal, depends upon our practical, human interpretation, and implementation of those dreams.

Shabbat shalom.

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