“Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.” — Genesis 41:11
This Torah portion for this week is Mikeitz, which means “at the end,” from Genesis 41:1–44:17, and the Haftorah is from 1 Kings 3:15–4:1.
The Talmud teaches that if a person goes seven days without having a dream, then he is not a righteous person. One rabbi was bothered by this statement. After all, can we really control whether or not we have a dream? The rabbi concluded that the Jewish sages were not talking about whether or not a person dreams at night; they were talking about whether or not we dream during the day. The sages are teaching us that we should never go a week or more without having a dream in our hearts.
This week’s Torah portion continues with the theme of dreams in the story of Joseph’s life. When Joseph was young, he had dreams about becoming a leader one day. While he was in prison, Joseph correctly interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s two ministers who had been thrown in jail. In this week’s portion, Pharaoh has two dreams, and Joseph interprets them as well. In each situation, all these dreams were more than just thoughts. They were transformed into actions that then became reality.
While we don’t control the dreams we have at night, and we don’t always understand their meaning, we can control the dreams that we have during the day. It is so important to dream good dreams. Our dreams become ideas and then actions, which can ultimately become our reality.
Too many people today have stopped dreaming. We can easily fall into a rut and stop believing that anything is possible. We can give up on the dreams that God puts into our heart and make do with the status quo. But God wants us to dream! He wants us to imagine and long for a better tomorrow – for ourselves and for the whole world. When we dream, we express our faith in God that He can make our dreams come to pass. When we dream, we partner with God in creating a better reality.
Everything begins with a dream. In Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech, “I Have a Dream,” the civil rights activist painted a picture of a better future – one in which a person would be judged not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character; one in which the children of former slaves would sit at a table together with the children of former slave owners. And you know what? That dream has become a reality. What if no one had dared to dream that dream in the first place?
What’s your dream for your life? What’s your dream for the world? Dare to dream a great dream today. With God’s help, it will come to pass.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President