Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Vayeishev

Joseph and His Dreams

Weekly Parsha The story of Yosef and his brothers always raises questions. Righteous people become involved in a dispute that tears apart the family and leads to great pain and near tragedy. The rabbis in discussing this parsha portray for us two stories unfolding at once. One concerns the will of God - that Jacob and his family descend into Egypt thereby fulfilling the covenant made with Yakov's grandfather, Avraham. The entire story of Joseph and his brothers is only a description of the mechanism, so to speak, used by the Lord to affect the descent of Israel into Egypt. The second explanation is the human one. The Talmud points out to us that it was Jacob's overt acts of favoritism to Joseph that enraged the brothers and caused them to look askance at every action of this precocious teenager. Thus the Talmud taught us "because of two measures of silk (the multicolored tunic that Jacob bestowed upon Joseph) our forefathers were forced to descend into Egypt [and eventual bondage.]" These two approaches to the story - of the rabbis and commentators, are not meant to be mutuality exclusive. Both are correct. Heaven works through human beings, their accomplishments and weaknesses. God's will is expressed through human behavior and actions.

Though freedom of choice and action is always reserved for humans, at the very same time God guides the world in His unseen and unfathomable fashion. That is the lesson here of the story of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph is a person who lives by his dreams. His dreams and ambitions dominate his life and those of the entire family. To him, his dreams are reality. The brothers treat his dreams as fantasies. They deal in the real world where dreams do not often translate into reality and fulfillment. Here too both views are correct. A Jewish world without dreams would long ago have perished and been consigned to the ash heap of history. The entire story of the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel over the last century is nothing but a dream; but it is a dream come true. Yet, without looking reality in the face, dealing with the world as it is and not as we would wish it to be, all of our dreams will crash about us in failure and frustration. Thus the balance between reality and dreams is the heart of the Jewish experience. Both Joseph and his brothers will emerge from the matter vindicated but yet bruised by the experience. We cannot live without dreams. But we cannot survive if we have only dreams and no realistic sense of events, actions and possible consequences. This lesson of two different views, represented in the story of Joseph and his brothers, which are both correct and yet seemingly antithetical to one another, provides the key to our understanding of Jewish history and destiny.

Shabat shalom.
Rabbi Berel Wein


Text Copyright © 2004 by Rabbi Berel Wein and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON LECH LECHA:

View Complete List

No Pain, No Gain
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5758

Lot’s and Lots of Opportunities
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

Dream the Impossible Dream
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5758

> That's Tzedaka!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

That Fire Within
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765

“The Place That I Will Show You!”
Rabbi Label Lam - 5767

ArtScroll

And Swing with All Your Might
Rabbi Label Lam - 5760

Learning How To Walk
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

“You Can Take the Girl out of Hicksville, but...”
Jon Erlbaum -

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Genuine Kindness
Rabbi Shlomo Jarcaig - 5765

Lucky Man
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5767

The Ordeal of Departure
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5767

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Mission Impassable
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5757

The Standers and the Walkers
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5760

Why The Land of Israel?
- 5768

The Founders of Our People
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5772



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information