Mikeitz – Dreams

In this week’s portion, we find Yoseph’s interpretations of Pharoah’s dreams, and we find that Pharoah was so impressed with Yoseph’s interpretations that he elevated Yoseph to be the second in command over all of Egypt.  For a number of reasons, however, these events are not well understood according to the simple level of the text.

For example, Yoseph advised Pharoah that the seven fat cows and the seven fat sheaves of wheat represent “years of plenty” that will be followed by years of famine (symbolized by the seven thin cows and seven thin sheaves).  However, this is a rather rudimentary explanation that does not demand much wisdom on the part of the interpreter, so why was Pharoah so enamored with Yoseph?

Moreover, Yoseph had the temerity to give Pharoah advice in how to run his kingdom that Pharoah did not request at all. From where did Yoseph derive the “chutzpah” to advise Pharoah immediately after emerging from the jail that he had been in for the last years?

Looking carefully at the details of Pharoah’s dreams, we find one detail that is difficult to fit in with the rest of them.  That is, the second set of cows – the thin and malnourished cows – emerged from the river and stood next to the fat and well nourished cows before devouring them.  That is, the fat cows and the thin cows were present simultaneously, at the same time.  And this did not make sense, for if the interpretations had to do with the passage of time, and the seven fat cows represented seven years, while the thin cows represented another set of seven years, then they should not have been present at one and the same time.  That was the difficulty that Pharoah’s advisors encountered when interpreting his dreams.

Yoseph’s wisdom was that he was able to give a simple and elegant explanation that resolved the difficulty of the two sets of cows being present at the same time.  He encouraged Pharoah to gather grain during the good years in order to prepare for the bad years.  In that sense, both sets of years were present at one and the same time.  If during the seven good years, Pharoah and his nation were already gathering grain for the bad years, it was as if the bad years were present at the same time as the good years – hence the thin cows emerged and stood next to the seven healthy cows, at the same time.

At the same time, this also explains why Yoseph had the temerity to give advice to Pharoah, despite his having only now emerged from jail.  It was not his intention to give advice.  He only intended to interpret the dream, as requested.  But, within the interpretation of the dream was also the advice in how to resolve the difficult situation in which Egypt would soon find itself.  The dream offered the advice – and that was to prepare for the bad years during the good years – it was not Yoseph who thought of this.  The advice was integrally built into the dream – the bad cows next to the good cows meant that the Egyptians should gather the grain during the good years –  so that when Yoseph gave Pharoah his interpretation, it included the advice as well.

For more details and explanation, go to www.jerusalemconnection.org/weekly/w_Miketz_5769.php

From Likutei Sichot of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, vol. 15, Pp 339-347

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