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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Two Dreams...Reactions and who were they about Really????

27 April 2013, Rabbi Adam Rosenwasser
37:9 - And he again dreamed another dream, and he related it to his brothers, and he said, "Behold, I have dreamed another dream, and behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were prostrating themselves to me."
37:10 - And he told [it] to his father and to his brothers, and his father rebuked him and said to him, "What is this dream that you have dreamed? Will we come I, your mother, and your brothers to prostrate ourselves to you to the ground?"
  • 37:9-10, Joseph’s second dream
    • Why two dreams?
      • Robert Alter [Five Books of Moses] – sign of what will happen in Joseph’s life – a series of doublets.  Alter writes, “Doublets are a recurrent principle of organization in the Joseph story, just as binary divisions [see below] are an organizing principle in the Jacob story.  Joseph and Pharaoh have double dreams; the chief butler and chief baker dream their pair of seemingly parallel, actually antithetical dreams.  Joseph is flung into a pit and later into the prison-house.  The brothers make two trips down to Egypt, with one of their number seemingly on each occasion.  And their descent to Egypt with goods … mirrors the descent of the merchant caravan, bearing the same items, that at first brought Joseph down to Egypt.” [Underlining added]
“Binary divisions” in Jacob’s life refer to his lack of completeness, although he supposedly arrived “complete” or “whole” (שָׁלֵם) in Sh’chem in 33:18. In fact, his entire life had been a series of divisions such as splitting his clan into two groups upon learning of Esau’s impending arrival (33:1); struggling with his twin brother for their father’s blessing (27:34ff); two sisters battling for his love; and two flocks, one uncolored and the other colored (30:32ff). [From “Completion,” a sermon by Shmuel Herzfeld. Thanksgiving 2004.  Accessed 29 April 2013 at, “ Vayishlach 2”]
    • Double verb in Hebrew suggests importance and emphasis, often translated as “verily.”  Does Rabbi Adam mean וַיַּחֲלֹם עוֹד חֲלוֹם, “he dreamed another dream” and   חָלַמְתִּי חֲלוֹם, “I dreamed a dream?”  In other words the same root, םלה, is used for the verb “dream” and the noun “dream.”
    • First dream is earthy, agricultural; second is in the sky, more spiritual.
    • First dream – Jacob doesn’t get involved; second dream, Joseph tells his father, too.
    • First dream is childish – “my sheaf is bigger than yours.”
  • In the second dream, Joseph doesn't ask for his brother’s attention as in the first dream.  They are inured to him, resigned to hear a dream.
  • Symbols of sun, moon, eleven stars
    • About his family?
    • About nations?  Alter [citing other sources] writes that the “eleven stars” refer to eleven ancient constellations; but is this blasphemy?  In ancient cultures, rulers were associated with celestial hosts, e.g., Pharaoh is the sun.
  • Tells dream to father and brothers.  Jacob reacts by rebuking/admonishing him, asking essentially, “Who are you, you dreaming dreamer?”  Jacob may have been settled but is not unsettled.  Brothers see that Jacob is upset and perhaps this was incentive for them to toss Joseph in the pit.  Perhaps Jacob saw what he had done in raising Joseph – spoiling him and making him the favorite son.
  • Recall that Joseph just tells the dream and does not interpret it.
  • Jacob, too, had dreams (wrestling, ladder); was he afraid?  He knows what’s happening but the brothers are clueless.
  • Rabbi Jack Tauber (Yalkut Ya’akov.  Lessons from Bereshit.  Chapel Hill, NC: Professional Press, 2000.  Pages 294-295) on the differences between the two dreams:
The first dream was about a larger sheave of wheat, suggesting that Joseph would be wealthier than his brothers, who then might need Joseph’s financial help in the future.  This engenders the strong dislike for Joseph, although the brothers could acknowledge that Joseph could indeed become wealthier by just a stroke of luck.  However, the second dream involving stars, sun, moon -- and by extension the brothers -- bowing before Joseph was too much for them to bear.  Joseph was in effect saying to his brothers, not only will I be wealthier but better than you.  It should be no surprise that hatred from the first dream turned into envy and jealousy [37:11] in the second dream, setting the scene for the eventual casting into the pit and selling to slavery.
  • Another reading from R’ Bachya (cited in Artscroll/Stone Edition of the Chumash): after the first dream, the emotion was hatred but not jealousy because the brothers saw Joseph as a child and no threat to them.  After the second dream, however, when the brothers, in their wisdom, realized that the source of Joseph’s dreams was Providential and that he would become their master, the hatred turned to jealousy [37:11].
37:11 - So his brothers envied him, but his father awaited the matter.
  • 37:11 
    • New verb וַיְקַנְאוּ, envied him or were jealous of him (JPS: wrought up).  
      • Old verb was שְׂנֹא, “hated” (37:5).
      • Other uses of קנא root:
        • 1 Kings 19:10 – jealousy for God, longing for God.  And he [Elijah] said: "I have been zealous [קִנֵּאתִי] for the Lord, the God of Hosts, for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant. They have torn down Your altars and they have killed Your prophets by the sword, and I have remained alone, and they seek my life to take it.
        • Numbers 25:11 – zealousness of Phineas.  Phinehas the son of Eleazar the son of Aaron the kohen has turned My anger away from the children of Israel by his zealously avenging Me [קִנְאָתִי  אֶת בְּקַנְאוֹ] among them, so that I did not destroy the children of Israel because of My zeal. 
        • Numbers 5:14 – man filled with rage and jealousy over his wife not playing by the rules.  … a spirit of jealousy had come upon him and he became jealous of his wife, and she was defiled, or, a spirit of jealousy had come upon him and he was jealous of his wife, and she was not defiled.
        • A few other places according to various concordances.
    • Brothers’ reaction is different.  Hasidic story [from Greenberg, Aharon Yaakov. Torah Gems. Chemed Books & Co., Inc.: Brooklyn, 1998]  on who should succeed a recently deceased Yeshiva head.  In every Parsha, there is a good and evil, except Vayeshev, where everyone was righteous.  Every candidate for the new yeshiva head was good candidate.  Yet Joseph was a brat …
    • Unlike previous behavior, Jacob doesn’t support Joseph on hearing this dream.  Then he “took note” i.e., changed his mind.  Hassidic story [source: Torah Gems as above] - Jacob saw the envy in the brothers and realized that there may be some truth in this dream as a prophecy.
    • Jacob was manipulative as a youth; does he see the same behavior in Joseph?  If so, that’s worrisome.


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