“Joseph answered Pharoah, saying, “That is beyond me;
it is God who will respond with Pharoah’s welfare.” (Genesis 41:16)
Genesis is a book filled with dreams. Almost everybody important dreams: Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph all dream. “Supporting actors” dream, too: Avimelech, king of Gerar, Lavan, and two of Pharoah’s servants. So when Parashat Miketz opens with Pharoah’s dream of the seven fat and seven skinny cows (requiring Joseph to interpret), commentators analyze it in light of all the previous dreams in the book.
Miketz begins,”After two years’ time, Pharoah dreamt he was omed al hay’or, standing on the Nile.” (Gen. 41:1) The Nile is the source of life for Egypt; Egypt cannot exist without the Nile. In isolation, the dream implies Pharoah imagines himself above, or more important, than the river, which is a god fir Egyptians. However, Yeshayahu Leibowitz (1903–1994; Israeli intellectual known for his outspoken opinions on Judaism, ethics, religion and politics) compares Pharoah’s dream to Jacob’s ladder-dream earlier in Genesis to make a deeper theological statement. Jacob’s dream-ladder was, “…set on the ground and its top reached to the sky, and angels of God were going up and down on it. And the Lord was nitzav alav, standing on him…” (Gen. 28:12-13) In Pharoah’s dream, he stands on his god. In Jacob’s dream, God stands on him. Pharoah believes his god (the Nile) exists to serve him. But Jacob learns he exists to serve God. More than that, though: Jacob’s dream shows God depends upon (stands on) the acts of the righteous (Genesis Rabbah 69:3).
Both Jacob and Pharoah have faith. But Jacob’s faith is reciprocal and mutually beneficial; a true partnership. Jacob’s dream reveals Pharoah’s faith as unidirectional and instrumental: it’s all about Pharoah. Ultimately, that’s why Egypt falls.
Gut Shabbos/Shabbat Shalom
A Freyliche Chanike/Chag Urim Sameach/Happy Festival of Lights