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Parshas Vayeishev - Dreams Can & Do Come True    21 Kislev 5783

12/23/2022 09:50:08 AM


Words that are spoken may never be heard again, while words that are recorded – either orally or in writing -  can be read or heard repeatedly! This came to mind a few weeks ago after listening to a heart-rendering eulogy that Rabbi Wein delivered twenty-seven years ago.

When I was in Yeshiva Shaarei Torah my chavrusa (study partner) to learn Yoreh Deah (for Smicha) was with someone who was a few years younger than I but was years ahead of me in intellectual learning. After receiving Smicha and getting married, he accepted a pulpit position in Norfolk Virginia at a very young age. He made an incredible impact on the small religious community of only three Orthodox families and grew it to over a hundred in a few short years. Sadly, at the tender young age of twenty-seven, Rabbi Shlomo Goder z”l passed away. At the Shloshim (thirtieth day after his passing) our Yeshiva, Shaarei Torah, had Rabbeim deliver hespedim/eulogies; the Rosh Hayeshiva, Rabbi Wein, spoke last. The words of Torah Rabbi Wein delivered to describe Shlomo z”l were taken from these parshios that we’ve been reading in sefer Bereishis. Rabbi Wein was anecdotal and pinpointed the essence of Shlomo z”l, weaving an incredible story about the mighty sequoia trees of Sequoia National Park to the Parsha of that week. He related how Shlomo was a man of vision who assessed the community’s potential in a few short weeks. He identified that the community would grow through the adding of a Kollel, and within days he brought Rabbi Wein to Norfolk to begin laying the groundwork for this endeavor. Shlomo saw what the community could look like and dreamt of the future. Rabbi Wein explained the attitude a dreamer has, and the attitude others have toward the dreamer.

In this week’s parsha, Vayeishev, the Torah states in Bereishis 37:19 when the brothers see Yosef coming they say "ויאמרו איש אל אחיו, הנה בעל החלומות הלזה בא"  “Here comes the dreamer!” they exclaimed to one another. Dreamers in general are not very popular people; dreamers make us ordinary mortals feel very uncomfortable. Dreamers see a very different world than the average person: they are not practical, they challenge us, and they irritate us. Part of the reason for our annoyance is because at some level we know that the dreamer is right; we are jealous that we don’t have a piece of the dream. Chaza”l compare Yakov Avinu to his son Yosef, but Chaza”l point out that the greatness of Yakov and Yosef together was that they were both dreamers! Yakov’s entire life was the embodiment of his dreams, from the dream on Har Hamoriah with the angels going up and down the ladder to the dream of seeing the speckled and spotted sheep for which he would negotiate, resulting in Hashem telling him to leave Lavan and return to Eretz Canaan. Ultimately, Yakov dreamt when he was going down to Egypt on his way to see his son Yosef.  Therefore, when Yosef told his brothers his dreams and repeated them judiciously to his father, bordering closely to a lack of respect,  his father had to respond -  הבוא נבוא אני ואמך ואחיך להשתחות לך ארצה  - ”What kind of dream did you have? Do you want me, your mother, and your brothers to come and prostrate ourselves on the ground before you (37:10)? What kind of behavior is that, how do you talk like that?” The Torah nevertheless concludes the section 37:11 "ויקנאו בו אחיו, ואביו שמר את הדבר"  “His brothers became very jealous, but his father guarded or watched the matter”. Yakov pondered the matter, keeping this all in the forefront of his mind, while his father waited to see the result. The Midrash Rabbah 84 asks; how did he watch the matter? The Midrash answers He [Yakov] took a quill and wrote down on what day, at what time, and in which place this was actually going to go down. In fact, it was because  Yakov took Yosef’s dreams seriously, the brothers became jealous. Yakov lent credence and validity to the dreams. Why would Yakov actually believe in these dreams that seemed so preposterous? The answer is because the dreamer appreciates the dreams of another dreamer. Yakov  lived by dreams throughout his life. Through all the hardships Yakov endured - being pursued by the sword of Eisav, when he froze during the night of Lavan, suffered the tragedy of his daughter Dina, when his beloved wife Rochel died, even the night his precious child was taken from him, Yakov never let go of the dream. Therefore, on the way down to Mitzrayim, Hashem yet again appeared to Yakov in a dream and told him not to be afraid, stating, “I go down with you and I will take you out. Yakov, don’t be afraid.”  As a dreamer, Yakov appreciated the dreams of Yosef.

The ninth chapter in Meseches Brachos discusses the realm of dreams and relates that dreams are one sixtieth of prophecy. Everybody dreams in their sleep; sometimes it’s a fantasy, other times a nightmare. Many people get nervous when they remember a dream; others just disregard them. Whichever approach a person takes, it is usually not seriously taken as some sort of sign or communication from above.  The “other” kind of dream, dreams of ambitions, desires, aspirations, wishes, and goals are no longer part of the average person’s psyche.  In our time, not only in the Jewish world, in the general world of dreaming, practicality has taken the place of dreaming for greatness or gain. There is no room for dreamers seeking dreams of greatness.  Historically, the Jewish people always had someone dreaming for the future of His people. The British philosopher James Allen wrote: “Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so you shall become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.”

We should not be afraid to dream. To the contrary, we should allow ourselves to dream as our forefathers did. Rav Shlomo Goder z”l was a dreamer. His prophecies on behalf of Klal Yisroel did come to fruition, but only because of his dreams and aspirations. So, too, we should allow ourselves the vision to dream in pursuit of making the world a better place, helping the Jewish people fulfill its mission in the world.       

Fri, December 8 2023 25 Kislev 5784