In this week’s portion we read about Yosef’s two dreams. One, the binding of sheaves of grain when all the sheaves bow down to one of them, and the second depicting the stars, sun and moon bowing down to one star. In each case, Yosef intimates the interpretation of the dream that he will rise to be a ruler/king and his brothers and family will pay homage to him.
Why did Yosef, a righteous and sensitive Tzadik who knew that his brothers professed anger and hatred towards him, exacerbate their feelings by sharing his controversial dreams with them?
This episode teaches us at least three important lessons: When a brother or compatriot expresses seeming haughtiness, he actually may be speaking the truth and sharing a reality. We should not judge another by our own inadequacies and incapacity to handle the truth. If we are to be true brothers, we need to listen to our fellow Jew sharing his potential growth and success and accept it with goodness. Not always should we share everything with everyone. A word, the Talmud tells us, is worth one shekel, silence is worth two. When it seems that those who are close to us cannot handle our success, don’t share it. The previous Rebbe stated that a true friend is not someone who commiserates with another when he is going through difficulty, but one who can really be joyous at another’s success. Not everyone has reached the level of being an unconditional friend.
Yosef’s dreams reach towards higher levels; first his dreams revolve around earthly elements – grain in the field and from there he moves to the heavenly hosts, stars in the sky. We must always reach upward and higher. Loving a fellow Jew, according to Chassidic philosophy, is the vessel for loving Almighty G-d. This past Tuesday, the 19th of Kislev, the world commemorated the day when the Alter Rebbe, founder of Chabad Lubavitch was emancipated from prison where he was facing capital punishment for spreading Torah and Mitzvos. It is an opportune time to be kinder, better and gentler in preparing ourselves and our world to receive G-d’s greatest miracle, the final redemption through Moshiach who will untie the bonds that limit or inhibit us. The illuminating holiday of Chanukah which we will begin to celebrate this coming Sunday evening commemorates and allows us to re-experience two outstanding occurrences. The first was the incredible victory of the Macabees over the wicked, mighty armies of Antiochus. Albeit a miracle, his was manifest in physical combat and genius strategy and could be understood by the human limited mind. We thank G-d for this in our prayers and grace after meals. The other was the miracle of oil which was enough for one day only and lasted for eight days. This was a spiritual miracle which is beyond rationalization. Our gratitude and commemoration for this is our kindling lights every night, in a continuing increasing manner, to eliminate the darkness and illuminate our world.
Let us rededicate ourselves to thanking G-d for His Divine Providence in both our physical material experience together with our spiritual lives, combining both to being lamplighters in our world.
Have a good Shabbos, a great week and a very happy Chanukah!
Rabbi Sholom D. Lipskar