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S.A.L.T. - Sunday

Rav David Silverberg

          Parashat Miketz opens with Pharaoh's mysterious dreams whose meaning eluded the royal advisors and was eventually disclosed by Yosef. As Rashi explains, the interpretations suggested by Pharaoh's aides did not convince the monarch.  They understood the dream as foretelling the birth and subsequent untimely death of Pharaoh's seven daughters.  The Midrash Rabba adds another suggestion offered, that Pharaoh will conquer seven kingdoms and then confront the rebellion of seven of his provinces.

         The reason why Pharaoh found Yosef's interpretation more convincing is clear: a dream involving cows and sheaves more likely relates to agriculture than to family life or military campaigns.  The question then arises, how did the royal advisors overlook this seemingly obvious interpretation?  Why did they insist on looking for a meaning outside the realm of agriculture?

         Rav Mordechai Sabato suggests that the difference between Yosef's interpretation and those of the advisors relates to the different theological approaches of monotheism and paganism.  Yosef understood that God delivered a message to the Egyptian king in order to trigger a response.  Meaning, a prophetic warning of impending crisis is meant specifically to help avoid the disaster.  For the pagan advisors, such a notion was untenable.  The disclosure of a divine plan whose discovery can lead to its annulment was, in their mind, ludicrous.  As Rav Sabato explains, the existence of many deities necessarily translates into the limitation of the powers of each.  The secrecy of their plans for mankind is therefore indispensable to the gods, so as to ensure that no other forces will interfere. 

         The belief in one God, by contrast, means the unlimited power of that deity.  The Almighty therefore risks nothing by divulging information concerning His plans. To the contrary, He specifically seeks to assist man through the red signals sent via prophecy and similar media. For Yosef, God "had nothing to lose" by allowing advanced planning to help Egypt "outsmart" the devastating famine.  Therefore, only Yosef successfully interpreted Pharaoh's dream to the king's liking.



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