MiKetz - Weekly Torah Portion
Dream and reality, so it seems, can live side-by-side. A dream may be dreamt by a person when sleeping at night. It may also be a dream visualized when completely awake. This week we read the Torah portion MiKetz, and it, as well as the Haftarah deal with dreams that are dreamt by rulers of nations. The Pharaoh has two different dreams, one about cows the other about “ears of grain”. “Then Pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream.” The Haftarah from Kings 1 spares us the reading of the actual dream but begins with the words, “Then Solomon awoke, and behold, it was a dream.”
There are three dreams dreamt by two leaders. The Pharaoh does not understand his dreams, not does he receive an answer from his wise men. It is then suggested to him that Joseph should be called to solve the riddle. The essence of the dreams has to do with the fear a leader has to the good of his nation. Yes, there may be good times, prosperous time, but there are also frightening prospects that loom in the future which are not good at all, famine may hit the land. Joseph also explains that there is a solution to the problem but it requires a bold decision by the leader in order to properly address this challenge.
It may be also a good idea to take a step back and visit King Solomon’s dream, even though we shall not read it as part of the Haftarah. In his dream he is worried, “now, Lord my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am like a little boy; I do not know how to go out or come in.” He was ordained to be the king but in order for him to be successful he requests this, “give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, to discern between good and evil. For who is capable of judging this great people of Yours?” He could have asked for so many other thigs and therefore receives this response, “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked for yourself a long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the lives of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you. I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days. And if you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days.” He did not ask for might, and did not request to be honored, nor did he ask for wealth – therefore in addition to being smart and wise he is also bestowed with all of the rest. Probably this should be put as a slogan before some of today’s politicians that try to strive for the wrong things.
Dreams can be dreamt when we are totally awake. The famous speech of the late Martin Luther King Jr.’s, I Have a Dream, was delivered when he was totally awake and dreaming with conviction and certainty. The idea for freedom and equality for everyone, a basic concept, a proper axiom, was not self-evident during that era in the United States of America. It is not always applied in other countries, even today. There are those who fight against that dream of equality and with all kinds of excuses try and keep a world not worthwhile keeping. There is no logic in the promotion of inequality based on gender, race, religion, sexual preferences. The exact opposite is what is right to do. The wrongs of inequality increase injustice, causes loss of due judicial process, and leads, rapidly may one add, toward societal destruction. It is therefore the King Solomon need “an understanding heart”, as there is no other way “to discern between good and evil”.
The Dream is a short story written by Winston Churchill, who was the prime minister of Great Britain during World War II, back in 1947. While painting, his father, who had passed away many decades before, at a young age, suddenly appeared before his eyes. He asks Winston, now in his seventies, to tell him about world affairs. He reports to him in great detail and knowledge also including the tales of the two world wars and about the tens of millions of people who had died as a result of the ruthlessness and savagery. After some thought, the father takes note of the deep knowledge Winston has on these matters. “Of course you are too old now to think about such things,” his father added, “but when I hear you talk I really wonder you didn’t go into politics. You might have done a lot to help. You might even have made a name for yourself.” Then the illusion is over. In this case Churchill describes a father who had no great dreams for his son.
We have many opportunities to dream. In each and everyone of us there is inside a leader, big or small. Sometimes we become slaves of our dreams and ignore reality – sometimes it is the exact opposite. The stories of the dreams we talked of today actually speak volumes about checks and balances. There is a dream and there is its anchoring in reality. The Pharaoh makes concrete the wealth and prosperity of the good years by saving wisely for years of scarcity. As for King Solomon, he takes the aloft idea of justice and brings it to its practical applications in day-to-day life. King changed America. Churchill tells the story of his struggles against those who thought he could never make it. Nevertheless, despite endless failures and difficulties, he made it through the toughest battle of them all. We must have dreams too. It is important that we anchor them in reality. It is even more important that we transfer them into a reality.
Shabbat Shalom and wishes for Good Health.
Reuven Marko, 18 December 2020, 4 Tevet, 5781