When we sleep at night, we often dream. Usually, dreams are connected with our state of mind or things we’ve experienced earlier in the day. While reading about the dreams of the Pharaoh this week (and those of Joseph last week), it becomes clear that the purpose of the dreams was to bring the family of Jacob down to Egypt, resulting in a hundreds-of-years-long exile.
What is the connection between dreams and exile?
When we’re asleep, our imagination runs rampant. We can see or experience things that are, in the awake world, impossible. The same is true during exile – even our own current one. We can see a world that seems to be full of negativity. We can even imagine a world in which we act in ways that show self-love but actually defy G-d. How can such opposition to G-d exist?
This dream-state of exile has us sunken deep. How do we get ourselves out of the mud? How do we rise above, and create a reality in which our children and students – our future generations – learn about true priorities, and that our dream-like state will soon end?
The difference between Joseph’s and Pharaoh’s dreams answers this question. Pharaoh was standing idly, watching passively, as cows and sheaves consumed their thinner versions. In contrast, Joseph dreamt that he and his brothers were working in the field, actively, as harvested bundles started bowing to him.
In the dream world, we have to work. It’s the Jewish mission, our raison d’être! The negative forces represented by Pharaoh don’t; they are idle, and their power and influence wanes over time. Their purpose is to try deterring us from revealing our true, inner strengths. Our job is to struggle, to strive forth, to demonstrate that the dreams of negativity will soon come to their rightful end, as they evaporate in the face of the warmth and light Torah and mitzvot provide.
Rabbi Yitzi Creeger and his family are shluchim/emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to the University of Cincinnati, the local community and nearby hospitals since 2006. He can be contacted at email@example.com.