Shabbat Shalom with a Heart Healthy Dose of Torah – Mikeitz
Dreams fill the text of this week’s Torah portion, no differently than it did last week’s. Joseph dreams. Pharaoh’s butler and baker dream. Pharaoh dreams. The sages teach us that at night, our souls become slightly detached from our bodies. Every morning, we say a prayer acknowledging that we are again whole (Modeh Ani). Once our souls depart for the night, the need to sustain our bodies through our daily routines holds it in shackles. They become free to roam into a realm beyond which we have conscious awareness, perhaps to the future or the distant path. Some present vivid lessons and stories while some are more opaque allegories. In either case, Torah and the bulk of Jewish tradition demand that we pay attention to these visions that transcend the rational and tangible.
Joseph dreamt that his parents and brothers would bow before him. No one takes kindly to these dreams or that he shared them. On the other hand, we will learn that, as his dream prophesied, his brothers and father did come and bow before him, as they begged for grain from Egypt. He accurately predicted the fates of the butler and baker. His interpretations so impressed Pharaoh that he placed Joseph in charge of saving his country.
Certainly, not all dreams happen at night while we are sleeping. Dreams can light paths helping us navigate through some very dark times. Dreams can open our hearts to see and hear new ways of relating to people, new understandings of the functions or dysfunctions of relationships. All dreams, though, take us beyond the tangible now, giving us access to a more significant potential tomorrow. We think of dreams as the first step towards a more fulfilling future.
Dreams can also be scary. Where they take us out of our comfort zones, we measure each step with trepidation. We find courage in moving forward, anyway. Dreams can scare other people. Oppressed people dreaming of freedom are taking the first step in the evolution/revolution of their status and freedom. These dreams threaten one’s power-base.
Ultimately, nothing happens in the world, if not for someone’s dream. Theodore Herzl spoke, “Eem tirtzu, aen zo agadah – when you want it, it is not just a dream.”
I once heard A. P. J. Abdul Kalam speak. He was then Prime Minister of India. He was a philosopher and mystic. He spoke about the vision of a world at peace, and more specifically, of an India that could provide for its millions. He argued that the most significant obstacle in the way of these goals was that people get so caught up in their daily grind that they forget to dream. ”You have to dream before your dreams can come true.” He thought of Leonardo DaVinci, who taught that the eyes see the world more clearly in sleep-based dreams than in awake imaginations. Awake, even when day-dreaming – we remain too distracted. Walt Disney changed the way in which children imagined the world. Echoing the masters throughout history, he argued, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”
If we want to change the world that is into a world for which we pray, we first have to transcend the “what is” and be able to dream about what can be. Prayer, then, is nothing more than the visualization of dreams fulfilled – and it is nothing less than the battle cry to make our dreams real. Shabbat Shalom.