This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Mikeitz (5768)
The life of Josef, the favorite son of the Patriarch Jacob, was dominated by dreams:
First his own regarding his brothers (37:5-9), then those from Pharaoh's two imprisoned ministers (40:8-19) and finally the dreams of Pharaoh himself that begin this week's Torah reading.
At first glance this doesn't make sense. Aren't dreams just confused thoughts? Why didn't G-d just speak directly to Josef like the other prophets? Why did he use such 'second class' communication?
Also, this week we celebrate Chanukah when a handful of Maccabees defeated tens of thousands of Greeks and we light candles to stress how one day's worth of olive oil lasted for eight days.
Is there a connection between this and dreams?
To understand this here is a story (Beis Moshiach Magazine #318)
Dr. R. was a well-known Jewish physician in New York. But as great a genius as he was in medicine he was a complete ignoramus in Judaism; he knew virtually nothing about the Torah and its commandments and had neither the time nor the interest to learn.
Until he met a young rabbi by the name of Yosef Tevel.
The year was 1988. Rabbi Tevel's father Avraham was ill and when they heard that the biggest expert on that illness was Doctor R. they went to see him.
But as fate would have it, Yosef Tevel was a talkative Chabadnik who loved to discuss Judaism with non-religious Jews and Dr. R. was a good listener.
His father's illness demanded several visits and each one ended with a friendly conversation-debate about Judaism. Despite Rabbi Tevel's efforts to get him involved, to the doctor it was no more than an interesting pastime. But Rabbi Yosef didn't give up.
After his father was cured Rabbi Yosef continued the acquaintance and the discussions continued intermittently for four years. Then, one day in 1992 when he happened to visit doctor R. for some medical advice he noticed that the doctor seemed to be very perturbed about something. Until finally he blurted out,
"Is it true that your Rebbe, the Lubavitch Rebbe you mentioned, is really a prophet? I've just heard that he was and that he did miracles! Is this true? Can you tell me one of his miracles?"
Rabbi Yosef tried to explain that the Rebbe's miracles only reflect his care and love for humanity (especially Jews) and they really don't prove much…. just as the miracles that Moses did didn't stop the Jews from worshiping the Golden Calf.
But the doctor insisted and pressed him until he had no choice.
"Okay," Rabbi Yosef said, "I'll tell you a miracle that happened to my father over twenty years ago." Dr. R. motioned for the Rabbi to sit opposite him and the Rabbi continued.
"My grandmother, my father's mother, was very ill. In fact the doctors had all given up on her. So my father got an appointment to see the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He took us all in with him; my mother and brothers and me and asked for the Rebbe's blessing.
"It was about three in the morning when we finally got in. I thought that the Rebbe was probably knocked out from such a long day but it was as though he was waiting just for us. He greeted us, listened to our request, said that there was no need to worry about my grandmother; she would live for many more years (she, in fact, got better and lived ten more years) and then looked at us and said 'Whose birthday is it today?'.
"We looked at each other and didn't know what to answer. It was the eighteenth day of the Hebrew month of Av and as far as we knew none of us had been born on that day. So the Rebbe proceeded to answer other questions my father asked, blessed us all and we all left.
"But that night my father couldn't sleep. He had been through the war when he was a child and due to all the terror and confusion didn't really know exactly when he was born. Not only that, those were the days before the Lubavitcher Rebbe suggested that everyone celebrate their birthday so no one really paid much attention to such things.
"So the next morning he visited my grandmother in the hospital, told her about the Rebbe's blessing and when he saw she was feeling better asked if she happened to know when he was born. 'Why certainly I know! "She answered", you were born on the 18th of Av!"
"My father was astounded! He rushed to the Rebbe's headquarters in Brooklyn to thank him and when the Rebbe saw him he just smiled and reminded my father to celebrate in a holy and happy way."
Dr. R. sat in deep thought for a few seconds and then something strange happened; he became excited! He had always seemed cold and objective but suddenly he unexplainably was like a bundle of fire.
"Listen Rabbi" he said to Rabbi Tevel. "You say the Rebbe wants us to celebrate our birthdays, right? Well, can you tell me MY Hebrew birth date? I really want to know!
He told Rabbi Tevel his English birthday and the Rabbi called the nearby Chabad Headquarters and got the date.
It was the 13th of Ellul… exactly the date of… that very day!!
Rabbi Tevel shook the bewildered doctor's hand, wished him a happy birthday, called his brother Pinchas, asked him to buy some cakes and drinks bring them to the doctor's office and twenty minutes later they were celebrating.
The doctor was totally speechless with emotion and after he calmed down a bit he asked for permission to talk.
"First, Rabbi Yosef, I want to thank you for this wonderful celebration and for your friendship all these years. Second, I want to tell you why I was so emotional today and insisted that you tell a miracle story.
"Last night at about three in the morning I got a phone call from a very good and close friend of mine; a non-Jewish professor. He apologized for the crazy hour, assured me it wasn't a joke and explained that he just had a dream that he felt that he had to tell me.
"He told me that a few years ago late one night he was skimming though the channels on his television when he chanced on an older Rabbi speaking vigorously in Yiddish. Of course he didn't understand a word but when he looked at this Rabbi he felt such awe that he simply couldn't turn the channel and the awe increased the longer he watched.
"On the screen it said 'the Lubavitcher Rebbe' and even gave a telephone number. So after the program he dialed it, said that he wanted to help in any way possible gave his number and requested that they contact him.
"Anyway, a few months went by and they didn't call him but he didn't let up. He called again and they told him that the Rebbe was ill (the Rebbe suffered a stroke in 1992) and advised him to write a letter.
So he wrote a letter wishing the Rebbe a speedy recovery again stating his willingness to help and added ten questions about life that were bothering him.
"But when a few months went by and he didn't get a reply he got angry. He couldn't understand why someone in the Rebbe's office couldn't at least have the decency to acknowledge the letter.
He began to think that perhaps he made a mistake about this Rabbi.
"Then, last night he went to sleep and, behold! He had a dream! He saw the Rebbe walking in a large room accompanied by two other Rabbis. There were Chassidim everywhere but when the Rebbe saw him he stopped, turned to him, and thanked him for the letter and the good wishes. And then the Rebbe answered each of his ten questions one after the other!
"My professor friend was so excited he had trouble speaking but he felt it was so important that he had to call me immediately.
"That is why I was so exited today" The doctor continued. "If the Rebbe appeared to a gentile professor in his dreams just in order to calm him down.. .then maybe Judaism is much more real than both you or I think it is!"
The next day the doctor bought a pair of Tefillin and a Prayer shawl and began learning Judaism.
This answers our questions.
The time of exile when we do not recognize the Creator and the world seems to be a separate entity, is likened to darkness. In darkness we are aware only of ourselves and VERY uncertain and even afraid about everything else.
The only good thing about this is that in the dark we often dream. And in dreams we are able to go above nature.
That is why Josef, who began the Egyptian exile (the prototype of all exiles) was told the secret of redemption in dreams.
Because just as in a dream it's possible to be in two places and be two different people at once so also in the exile it is possible for people can change from atheists to enthusiastic Jews in just moments…. Like Dr. R. in our story.
And that is the secret of true freedom and the end of exile.
Like the Maccabees found out thousands of years ago in the first Chanuka. The darkness of exile actually forced them to awaken NEW powers and enabled them to do the impossible: defeat a massive army trained Greek soldiers with just 13 Jews.
Just as a small candle dispels much darkness.
It all depends on us to awaken our inner, positive powers and abilities, to do the seemingly impossible and bring...
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