Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Miketz
To dedicate this lesson

The Torah study is dedicatedin the memory of

Yossef ben Simcha

The Power of Dreams


Rabbi Berel Wein

3 Tevet 5769
We are all now witness to the fulfillment of Yosef’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams – years of boom and bust, of surplus and famine. Yosef sees that every boom ends in a bust. That is the story of human life from time immemorial. Of course while times are good no one wishes to think that these good times will somehow end. But they always do. That is the message of Yosef to Pharaoh. And Yosef adds the wise advice that since the years of famine that will definitely follow are a certainty one should attempt to prepare for those difficult times. It is a matter of simple logic to prepare for those hard times. The preparation for those difficult times is not only one of economic thrift and wise investment, it is also very necessarily one of mental and psychological preparation. No matter how careful one is with one’s money and no matter how one convinces one’s self that money is not really that important, no one enjoys losing money and lowering one’s standard of life. Yosef is forced to take drastic economic and social actions to try and preserve the lives of the Egyptians and the people of the neighboring nations. His economic preparations, no matter how thorough and well-planned, proved to be inadequate. Only Heavenly intervention in the person of Yaakov and his appearance and settling in Egypt served to extricate everyone from that terrible crisis. Human planning and actions always have their limitations. Heavenly aid and succor are ingredients always necessary in human affairs.

Yosef’s hidden purpose was to bring his brothers down to Egypt and have them bow before him thus fulfilling literally his dream of decades ago. But the primary lesson in my opinion is that it is apparent from this whole story that Heaven is willing to turn the world upside down so to speak in order that an individual family should be united and that one person’s dreams be fulfilled. We look at world events from the viewpoint of irresistible forces and great powers. However, much of what occurs on a grand and international scale may in fact be only due to individual dreams and their fulfillment. This notion helps us to understand why the Torah places so much attention, details and demands on individual behavior. People feel themselves small and powerless before changing circumstances and approaching difficult times. But in reality the changing times may be due to the actions, inactions, dreams and fantasies of those very people. If we truly thought that way, that my behavior affects society and its circumstances at large and is not just limited to me and my immediate circle of family, friends and acquaintances, perhaps our view of ourselves and our importance would change positively and expand. Yosef has no doubts that the years of plenty and famine are present only to allow him to rise to power, fulfill his dreams and bring the house and family of Yaakov down to Egypt. Who knows what dreams and behavior have brought us currently to our state of trouble and depression?
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