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S.A.L.T. - Motzaei Shabbat

Rav David Silverberg


          Parashat Miketz tells of Yosef's sudden rise from a prison cell in the Egyptian dungeons to the second highest position of political leadership in the strongest empire in the world.  The Midrash Ha-gadol in the beginning of the parasha notes that both Yosef's original downfall and ultimate rise to greatness resulted from dreams.  His dreams of superiority and leadership over his brothers fueled their flames of hatred towards him, which, as we know, reached their peak in Dotan as they sold Yosef into slavery.  Parashat Miketz opens with Pharaoh's mysterious dream, which paved the road to glory for Yosef the inmate.

          From here the Midrash concludes, "The Almighty - in the same manner in which He smites a person, he cures him."

         We may, however, find more specific significance in the role played by these dreams in Yosef's whirlwind tour of slavery and glory.  Indeed, the Midrash Ha-gadol earlier, in Parashat Vayeshev, states very simply, "Yosef descended through a dream and rose through a dream."  This passage perhaps implies inherent meaning in the effect of these dreams on Yosef's life, irrespective of the Almighty's general tendency to "cure" in the same way He "smites."

         Yosef's sale resulted not as much from the dreams per se but rather from his preoccupation therewith.  Noting the expression, "Shimu na" (37:6), which denotes asking for permission, the Midrash Lekach Tov writes that Yosef had to beg his brothers to allow him to report his dream.  He presumed that they would share his interest in his ambitions of leadership.  Needless to say, they were not only disinterested in these dreams, they were disgusted by them.  Yet, Yosef was so engrossed in his own ambition that he took for granted the enthusiastic response of his brothers, who had already harbored feelings of animosity towards him.  Thus, Yosef's downfall resulted from his overindulgence in his own dreams.

Yosef realizes the fulfillment of these dreams only after he successfully interprets the dreams of others - the butler, the baker, and Pharaoh.  Although dream interpretation certainly entails prophetic powers, it seemingly requires, at very least, a willingness on the part of the interpreter to carefully study the dreamer.  To properly interpret dreams, one needs not only prophetic intuition, but the ability to consider the other individual's life experiences, worries, concerns, ambitions, drives, goals, frustrations, pain, etc.  Only after Yosef can engage himself in the dreams of others can his dreams of leadership see fruition. 

         Hence, the Midrash tells us, "Yosef descended through a dream, and rose through a dream."  He fell on account of his absorption in his own fantasies, and rose as a result of his ability to focus on the dreams of others.



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