A Jew and His Dreams – Parashat Vayeishev

November 24, 2018 at 2:51 AM , , ,
“….And Yosef dreamt a dream….” – Bereishit 37:5

״….ויחלום יוסף חלום…״ – לז, ה


Both of Yosef’s dreams foretold that one day his family would bow before him, but the imagery in the two dreams was not identical. The subjects of his first dream were from the plant kingdom: eleven sheaves of wheat bowed to his sheave. In the second dream, his family was represented by the solar system: the sun, the moon and the stars.

Pharaoh also had two dreams which we read about in Parshat Mikeitz. They too were identical in theme, both foretelling the seven years of plenty followed by seven years of hunger which were to come upon Egypt. And in Pharaoh’s dreams as well, the imagery changed from one dream to the next. In Pharaoh’s first dream the years of plenty and of famine were represented by fat cows and emaciated cows – members of the animal kingdom, while in his second dream these very same themes were represented by stalks of grain, from the plant kingdom.

Yosef dreamt a dreamA notable difference between these two sets of dreams is that only Yosef’s featured heavenly beings – the sun, moon and stars, not Pharaoh’s. Another point to be observed is the sequence in which the dreams developed. The subject of Pharaoh’s dreams “deteriorated”: his first dream involved animal life, while his second dream featured only plant life. In contrast, Yosef progressed from dreams of the earthly to dreams of the heavenly.

The metaphoric contrast of Pharaoh’s and Yosef’s dreams is obvious. Pharaoh’s dreams were devoid of anything “heavenly”. As Pharaoh’s mind was wholly engrossed in his earthly pursuits, he gradually became more and more entrenched in his material obsessions, as represented by the “deteriorating” sequence of his dreams.

A Jew, by contrast, even while going about the physical aspects of his life, is simultaneously thinking about the Heavenly, the spiritual achievements and G-dly purpose for which he lives. Yosef dreamed of the earthly as well as the Heavenly, and in that order; for Yosef’s focus on spirituality was in a constant state of growth.

—Likutei Sichos, vol. 3, pp. 805-806


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