This week we turn to the portion known as Miketz (Genesis 41ff), Joseph stars as the expert interpreter of dreams. His powers of understanding allow him to be referred to Pharoah who has had a series of dreams that trouble him. Hearing that he has someone who seems to be successful in understanding dreams and their meaning, Pharoah frees Joseph from his prison cell and seeks his advice. As luck, and as the Torah and our history would have it, Joseph correctly predicts the seven good years and seven years of famine. His reward is that he is elevated to a position of great power and influence, marries, and seems to be comfortable within the hierarchy of Egyptian society. His roots are, however, tapped when a delegation of his brothers arrive in Egypt (Gen. 42) to plead for food during the famine and, as a result, we begin a strange and moving story of eventual reunification of family and reconciliation of past hurts.
There are a myriad of interpretations and stories that spin off of this portion. What struck me for us this week was this aspect of the transition of Joseph from prisoner to position of power. Was it random? Or, as much of tradition says, was it the hand of God that created the circumstances? Joseph, in his jail (thanks to Potiphar’s wife) has the opportunity to interpret the dreams of two other prisoners, who once released, give word of mouth referral to Pharoah. Remember Joseph’s talent of dream interpretation got him in to some concern with his brothers. He seems to have been one of these people who can “see” things that others may not. He is not afraid to speak what he feels and “sees” as it relates to the dreams of people. His reward allows for the continued flow of Jewish Biblical history. Could he have predicted his transition from prisoner to power?
And what of us? Boomers face so many life transitions. Many of them we create, and many of them are brought about by forces or circumstances over which we have little, if any, control. One of the challenges of longevity is how we manage the transitions of life that so many of us will undergo. It may be the “letting go” of a sense of control over adult children. It may be the challenge of how to grapple with health issues. It may be the opportunity to engage in a new life situation or relationship or passion that had long been repressed. No matter, what is true is that change and transitions are constant in life and each one presents unique challenges and opportunities to us. If we are aware of this constant flow of life, of the on-going dynamism that life presents to us, then maybe we can see each transition as another opportunity for possibility.
Rabbi Richard F Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.