By Rabbi Yisroel Ciner
The parsha begins, "And it was, mekaytz, at the end of two years, and
Paroah dreamt". The medrash says, "kaytz, an end limit, was set for the
darkness, an end limit was set for Yosef's imprisonment. Once that time was
reached, Paroah had his dream." The Beis Halevi explains that the medrash
is teaching us a very powerful message in viewing life's events. We would
superficially understand the cause and effect of the parsha's events as
follows. Paroah's dream, was the cause of Yosef being released from the
prison. The same way that we would view a person who made a certain
investment. If that investment would prove to be lucrative, we would say
that the investment was the cause of his wealth.
The Beis Halevi explains that this medrash is teaching us the correct
perspective. There was a set time, two additional years, that Yosef was
meant to be in prison. The cause of his release was that time having been
reached. This cause triggered that min hashamayim, from the heavens,
something had to happen to bring about that release. The result of this
cause was Paroah's dream. "An end limit was set for Yosef's imprisonment.
Once that time was reached, Paroah had his dream." The dream didn't cause
the release It was rather the release caused the dream. The investment
didn't cause the wealth. Min hashamayim the time had come for him to become
wealthy. He, therefore, made that investment.
People go through so much anguish in life deeply regretting moves they
failed to make. They often think to themselves that had they only made that
investment, that decision, that phone call, their lives would have been so
different. It is true that one event can have a tremendous influence on our
life. However, we must recognize what really determines our fate is not our
decisions. Chazal Say"Hakol beyday shamayim chutz mi'yiras shamayim". All
is in the hands of heaven besides our spiritual stature. That investment
could have greatly altered our financial standing. However, it would not
have been the cause of our wealth. It would have been the result of a min
hashamayim directive that this it is now in this person's best interest to
become wealthy. Although it is beyond us to determine and fully fathom
those directives, we do know that those 'little decisions' that we've
discussed earlier, do affect those directives. The fact that at times we
don't see the good in what's happening, in no way indicates that it isn't
The Chofetz Chaim gives a beautiful mashal to illustrate this point. A
person went to a train station for his first time. He heard a whistle blow
and saw people hurry to the train. A short while later he heard a second
whistle and saw additional people make their way onto the train. At the
sound of the third whistle, the train started to roll. He was amazed by the
power wielded by this whistle blower and sought him out. When he found him,
he started to ask him questions about the running of the station, the
scheduling of the trains, etc. The whistle blower gave him a confused look
and in broken English (Polish?) told him that he doesn't really know all
that much. All of his instructions come from above. All he does is blow the
This connection between dreams and redemption reminds me of an idea I
recently read. The possuk says; "Shir Hamaalos, bshuv Hashem es shivas
Tzion hayinu k'cholmim". This is usually translated, when Hashem will
return the remnants of Zion, we 'will be' like dreamers. However, the word
"hayinu" is really in the past tense, therefore the proper translation
should be; we 'were' like dreamers.
When we dream, everything seems to make perfect sense and be totally
logical. Once we awaken and review our dream we then realize that it really
made no sense at all. We even can't imagine how at the time of the dream it
did make sense! So too, is our current situation. During the pre-redemption
stage, during the darkness of this world, things appear to make sense. This
person wants to live with alternative lifestyles, it seems almost
acceptable to us.
This person's goal in life is to be a millionaire, we find that
understandable. This person doesn't think that mitzvos are important, even
though we disagree, we can relate to where he is coming from. When the
redemption will arrive, we will have true clarity of vision. It is then
that we will come to the realization, that all our ideas until now, were
like dreams. Our whole environment, it's values, it's priorities, made no
sense at all, but at the time it seemed so logical! We look back and can't
even imagine how it then made any sense at all.
After interpreting the dream, Yosef tells Paroah that he should now appoint
an understanding and wise person to be in charge of the food collection and
storage. Rav Eliyohu Lopian, zatza"l explains that it would take an
incredible chacham to handle the task. During times of plenty, it's
extremely difficult to have a mentality of only eating what's completely
necessary and to save every additional morsel. Who is a wise man, one who
is "roeh es hanolad" (sees the future). Not that he knows what will be but
rather he 'sees' it. Only such a man who sees the future as if it's
present, has the ability to prepare Mitzraim for the forthcoming famine years.
In olam hazah, our present physical existence, we are living through years
of plenty. During our 120 years of life, we have an immeasurable amount of
opportunities to perform mitzvos and maasim tovim. In this respect, olam
habah, the world to come, is a time of famine.
It is well known that the Vilna Gaon was crying at the time of his death.
When asked, why he was crying, he explained how painful it was to leave
this world of such incredible opportunity. He grabbed hold of his tzitzis
and said "In this incredible world, for a few cents one can fulfill this
wonderful mizvah of tzitzis, which merits one the level of seeing the face
of the Sh'chinah. In the next world, a person is unable to perform a single
mitzvah even if he offers all his possessions. How can't one cry when he's
about to leave such a place.
Hashem should open our eyes so that we will realize that we are in the
storehouse of the king for a limited amount of time. We must be chachamim
who see the future, know that our time here is limited and not go through
life in a dreamlike state. Recognizing the true causes for all that happens
here and making ourselves worthy of being recipients of those blessings.
Copyright © 1997 by Rabbi Yisroel Ciner
and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author teaches at Neveh Tzion in
Telzstone (near Yerushalayim).