Vayeshev (Genesis 37:1-40:23): Perchance to Dream?

Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash
Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash

Back in the day, one of my favorite groups was the Everly  Brothers. I remember the album that featured one of my favorite songs “Dream, Dream Dream”.  The lyric “all I have to do is dream” came back to me again (not in a dream) as I was looking at this week’s portion.  We encounter Joseph as the entitled young man and favorite of Jacob.  A theme of the portion is the ability of Joseph to interpret dreams. It is this ability that allows him to be tapped by Pharaoh and thus rise to power and, in Biblical terms, change Jewish history.

I mention this because as we get older, the question arises concerning our ability, or even desire, to dream. There is a famous verse in the Bible from Joel 3:1 that states that the young see visions and we elders dream, as if to imply that as we age, we seem lost in a dream like state. Rather, I think this passage of Torah can inspire us to remember that we have life and thus, to dream of a better life and world for us and those who come after us are part of our challenge. The other challenge is of course, to act on those dreams.

There is a rich history of dreams in Torah and Bible. We even, say scholars, have in Talmud Berachot a section on dreams. Some comment that Biblical dreams are a glimpse from our subconscious into our own future.  Some commentaries see Joseph’s time in prison as transformative. He interprets dreams, learns to engage with others and emerges a more mature adult. Is there a message for our experiences? As we have grown, have we learned to harness the dreams of youth so that they can be realized in our life? Have we learned, as Jospeh did, that this life is not just about “me” but it is lived in relationship with others? So a message for us from this week’s portion, I suggest, is that we can embrace our dreams. They may be glimpses into a future we wish to realize if we can let go of the fear of that  future. We are never too old to dream, to be open to our future and embrace the possibilities of our own hopes.  What are your dreams? What do you hope to see for those you care for, for yourself?

Shabbat shalom

Rabbi Richard F Address

About Rabbi Richard Address 709 Articles
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.

1 Comment

  1. Yesterday at Thanksgiving dinner, there were 11 of my 14 grandchildren. These kids ranged in age from 42 down to 21. I gathered them, as group. around the table, amd asked them “do you foresee that your life will be as better and more productive than your parents (my children). I was amazed and dismayed to hear from every one of them that “no, our parents have it better that we will ever see.” My vision of leaving this world a better place than when I came in, have failed them. Whose fault is it, Mine and the rest of my generation.

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