Parashat Miketz opens with two ominous dreams by Pharaoh. Standing on the edge of the Nile, seven “handsome and sturdy” cows emerge from the river, followed by seven “ugly and gaunt” cows, which come upon the “handsome and sturdy” cows and devour them. In a subsequent dream, Pharaoh witnesses seven “solid and healthy” ears of grain swallowed up by seven ears of grain that are “thin and scorched by the east wind.”
Pharaoh awakens from his dream confused, unable to comprehend what these dreams may signify. Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer steps forward and informs him that while he was imprisoned, a Hebrew youth (Joseph) in the dungeon interpreted dreams for himself and the chief baker. The chief cupbearer says, “And as he interpreted for us, so it came to pass.” Taking the chief cupbearer on his word and needing similar help and support, Pharaoh calls upon Joseph to interpret his dreams.
Joseph is able to help Pharaoh understand that both dreams are one and the same. Placing the healthy cows and the healthy ears of grain opposite the lean cows and scorched ears of grain, Joseph interprets that Egypt will be blessed with seven years of bounty followed by seven years of famine. Joseph encourages Pharaoh to use the first seven years wisely, creating stockpiles of food so that the whole of Egypt will be able to subsist during the subsequent famine.
The relationship between Pharaoh and Joseph is an intriguing one. The strong -willed, determined Pharaoh, in charge of a vast land and myriads of people calls upon the Hebrew slave who has been incarcerated in his dungeon. Nevertheless, working together in relationship with one another, both Pharaoh and Joseph are of great benefit to one another. By listening to Joseph, Pharaoh ensures the survival of his people and his nation. Joseph in turn receives Pharaoh’s blessing, a position of leadership, and ultimately, next week, he will receive the opportunity to be reunited with his family.
As we learn from Pharaoh’s relationship with Joseph, we receive unspeakable benefits and opportunities from being in relationship with one another. When we listen to someone else’s dreams, act as their confidant, offer our advice or insight, or when we seek the assistance of another for their interpretation, their guidance, and their support, we receive a greater sense of clarity, and a much more purposeful direction in life. We have a sacred responsibility to help other people reach their truest potential, and we need the support of other people to help us achieve our goals. May our relationships with one another sustain our dreams and enable them to come true.
Shabbat Shalom & Chag Sameach