WHAT ARE YOUR DREAMS WORTH? — by Rabbi Baruch Cohon — Vayeshev — Gen. 37-40
This week’s Torah reading begins the classic biography of all classic biographies, the story of Joseph. Biblical Joseph was indeed a fascinating character. Besides being his father’s favorite — and therefore hated by his brothers — and besides enduring slavery and imprisonment in a foreign country, he suddenly became prime minister of that country, Egypt, and saved his entire hostile family from famine by immigrating them. Only after his death did a new king “who knew not Joseph” enslave his people. He also gave his name to more men since then than anyone else. You might be Yosef or Jose, Hosip, Josef (however your language spells it) or plain old Joe, you bear the name of our fourth patriarch.
Before he did any of those things, however, Joseph distinguished himself as a dreamer. Maybe you have dreams that you can’t remember in the morning? He remembered his dreams. Not only that, but they came true. He even found that he could interpret other people’s dreams. Joseph was confident that dreams belong to G-d, and he consulted Divine wisdom to find their meaning. When two Egyptian officers shared his prison cell, they both had dreams that puzzled them. Joseph listened to their description and predicted their fortunes. The Chief Butler would be acquitted and returned to duty in the royal palace. The Chief Baker would be condemned and executed. And so it happened. That did not produce any positive results for Joseph, not right away. The last sentence of our reading says “the sar hamashkeh (the prince bartender) did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.” Don’t expect gratitude for your dreams or your vision.
Of course next week we will read about how the same chief butler comes forward — when he sees a chance to gain points with the king — and admits his failure to acknowledge Joseph. Acting on his testimony, Pharaoh will free Joseph from prison and listen to his prophecy.
That’s what our dreams can do for us. Lift us from prison to prophecy, from the bondage of today’s trouble to the vision of tomorrow’s triumph. Asleep or awake, value your dreams.