(Torah Portion Vayaishev ) Dreaming Beyond!
The Torah relates that Yosef had two dreams which he felt compelled to share with his brothers and father. Telling over the dreams didn’t go over well with his brothers.
If we explore the meaning of the dreams we will come to understand what occurred.
All twelve sons of Yaacov were invested with skills to forge the destiny of the Jewish people. They each had their unique mission and talent to contribute to form the complete unit of Klal Yisroel – the Jewish nation.
The Monarchy of the Jewish people was destined to emerge from Yehuda.
Yosef displayed certain patterns and innuendos that made his brothers feel that he was espousing to rule over them and overstepping his bounds into the area of the monarchy which was not his.
The dreams Yosef shared with them were an example of this. The Torah tells us, “Yosef related, ‘We were binding sheaves of wheat in the middle of the field, when, my sheaf arose and your sheaves gathered around and bowed to my sheaf.’
“His brothers said to him, ‘Are you to reign and dominate over us?’ And they hated him even more because of his dreams and because of his talks.
“Yosef dreamt another dream and related it to his father and brothers. ‘Behold the sun, moon and eleven stars were bowing to me.’
“His father scolded him, ‘What is this dream that you have dreamt! Are I, your mother and eleven brothers going to bow down to you?’ His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.”
Both dreams intimate that the brothers would be subjugated to Yosef.
There are a few differences in the dreams and the brothers’ reaction to them that clue us in as to how great and holy they were.
Explains the Bais Halevi: The first dream speaks of sheaves of wheat – something of material value. In it, Yosef describes how their sheaves bowed to his sheaf – not to Yosef himself. The brothers’ reaction was that they hated him.
When one amasses material wealth, it does not change the essence of the person – essentially, there is no difference between a wealthy person and poor person, for wealth is not attached to the person himself; it is something external. This is why the eleven sheaves bowed to Yosef’s sheaf, rather than to him. Materialism had no relevance to him.
The wheat in Yosef’s dream was prophetic because many years later when there was a famine in the Land of Canaan, Yosef’s brothers came to Egypt for food, and they bowed down to him there.
The brothers’ reaction to this dream was that they hated him thinking he was meddling into the realm of kingship which was not his. Since this dream pertained to something materialistic they were not jealous due to their high level of spirituality.
Yosef’s second prophetic dream concerned the sun, the moon and the stars. The sun represented Yaacov, the moon represented his mother, and the eleven stars represented his brothers. In this dream he recounted how they all bowed to Yosef himself.
The sun, moon and stars are metaphysical creations. There are twelve constellations based on the formation of the stars and position of the sun and moon. Yosef, in conveying this dream was intimating that he was in a higher level in the spiritual realm and through his righteousness he was able adjust the pattern of the constellations and how they affect what happens in the world. The stars and planets were bowing to Yosef, who was eventually known as Yosef Hatzadik – the righteous, because of his fortitude in continually refusing to give in to temptation to sin. The sun, moon and stars bowed to Yosef himself because the spiritual accomplishments that one attains become their actual essence.
The Talmud teaches us that one can be jealous of the spiritual advancements of another, for that jealousy is not that, ‘I should have it and not him;’ rather it is a motivation for the observer to follow the lead and raise himself to higher levels of spirituality. The Torah relates specifically that the brothers were jealous of Yosef’s high levels of spirituality, a jealousy which is permissible.
This dream played itself out as well when Yosef was viceroy of Egypt and Yaacov and his family united and bowed to Yosef.
Our Sages tell us that according to G-d’s plan, Yaacov and his family needed to reside in Egypt to begin our exile and eventual servitude. There were two possible way for Yaacov to get to Egypt; either against his will in a disrespectful manner or willingly in a respectful manner.
Yosef invoked feelings of animosity in his brothers and they sold him to Egypt where he eventually rose to power. This was all G-d’s design that Yaacov and his family should arrive in dignity to Egypt. This dignity was retained by his descendants throughout the years of servitude.
If we view the twists and turns of our lives and history, as orchestrated by the Almighty with the ultimate reason and purpose to be revealed and evident with the coming of our Redemption, it helps us get through any challenges that may come our way.
Wishing you a most enjoyable and uplifting Shabbat!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks and family