In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Miketz, Joseph famously interprets dreams. At first, the Pharaoh's butler asks him for advice about a dream and is pleasantly surprised with Joseph’s answer. Two years down the line, when the Pharaoh is in need of similar help, the butler suggests that Joseph should be called on to help. In a surprising turn of events, Joseph is hastily taken out of jail and placed in a position of power. These events have already occurred in his early life, but in the opposite order, going from a position of power, to exile. As a young man, he is stripped of his beautiful coat by his brothers and thrown into a pit, similar to the jail he was thrown into and subsequently retrieved from. All throughout the Parsha, Joseph has déjà vu moments that remind him of life in a backward fashion. Nevertheless, all this time, G-d is with Joseph. This motif is clearly indicated by the fact that no one is able to interpret the Pharaoh's dream but one man who had heard G-d.
How did this happen? Considering the parallels that become apparent to Joseph as he moves through his life, he derives his answer by analyzing his own life and his destiny. At this junction, Joseph’s destiny is actually a unique method of communicating with G-d. Joseph sees that his life was calculated, instead of left to chance. This realization allows Joseph to view the Pharaoh’s dream as the convergence of his past, to this moment. Joseph is brought closer to G-d and is able to interpret the facets of the dream as a recurring duality between prosperity for seven years followed by seven years of famine.
So, does G-d communicate with us through dreams? This question remains relatively unanswered; however, Judaism indirectly approaches it in another way. Judaism believes in self-determination. This is the belief that we can determine our futures, just as Joseph comes to understand through interpreting dreams. There is no set-in-stone version of our lives that cannot be altered and can be professed to us via a dream. This thought, the endless possibilities, is both empowering and overwhelming. However, this is a great reminder that we are in control of our destiny, our choices, our free will. Joseph knew he had spiritual support his entire life, yet it was up to him to get himself through the ups and downs that come with being mortal. This week, we are reminded of our significance as individuals to shape the future, as no one can stand in our way, but ourselves.
Eastern Region, North Carolina Council Shlicha, Olivia Raykhman
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