Genesis 37:1 – 44:17
Did you ever have a dream that later came true?
Dreams are an important part of our psychological make-up. In our sleeping hours we are working through, often mysteriously, issues in our lives. There are lots about dreams we don’t understand though. Much dream work is about the physiological changes in the brain and in eye movement during dream stages. But there is little psychological work done about dreams. In an article in Psychology Today Gayle Green, Ph. D. wrote in February, 2010:
“I’ve been attending annual meetings of the Associated Professional Sleep Society (APSS) since 2002. These are conferences where sleep scientists, physicians, psychotherapists, and pharmaceutical researchers gather to share the latest in research and treatments. In the years I’ve been attending, I’ve heard breakthrough discoveries about sleep and the brain that have brought researchers closer to understanding disorders such as narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, even insomnia. But I’ve heard few presentations about dreams. “
Of course Sigmund Freud wrote in his famous book The Interpretation of Dreams, that dreams are “…disguised fulfillments of repressed wishes.”
In the Torah and the Bible, dreams play an important role in the development of our heroes and heroines. In this week’s portion Vayeshev, we begin the cycle of stories about Joseph. Joseph is the ultimate dreamer and becomes an interpreter of his own dreams and the dreams of others.
We meet him this week as the favored son of the grieving Jacob. Joseph is young man who dreams of sheaves and a singular sheaf, his sheaf, that rises above the bundled sheaves of his brothers. Then he dreams that the Sun and the moon and eleven stars bow down to him.
As he related these dreams to his 11 brothers and his father, Jacob, their anger and annoyance and (as the Torah says) hatred of him grew. Joseph’s dreams may indeed come true but their content says the younger will rule over the elders.
This is hard for the brothers to hear from a favored young teenager.
Joseph would pay a steep price for his dreams and interpretation. The brother’s throw him into a pit and then sell him off as a slave.
But as we will see over the next few weeks of Torah readings, Joseph’s dreams will play an important role in his rise as architect of Egypt’s famine relief.
Sometimes our dreams do come true. They came true for Joseph despite his brother’s objections.
Clearly there is something greater happening in these dreams. And perhaps, just perhaps in our own dreams as well.