OU Torah Insights ProjectParshat Miketz
Dreams, how exciting they can be. Dreams, how frightening they can be. Dreams, how meaningful they can be.
We are told that our dreams reflect what we consider important in life and what we think about during the day. Let us compare some dreams as presented to us in the Torah.
In this weeks Torah portion we read that Pharaoh dreams of cows. In Parshas Vayeitzei we read that Yaakov dreams of angels. In the book of Melachim King Solomon asks in his dream for an understanding heart "to distinguish between good and evil." King Nevuchadnetzar dreams of statues, "heads made of gold, arms of silver, legs of iron."
It is obvious that a Torah Jew has G-dly aspirations and is occupied with spiritual matters rather than material pursuits. But the clock ticks away and time marches on. While we may wish to fill our lives with meaning and spirituality, we too often dilly-dally, hoping to get to it "later on."
I remember something my barber once told me after I asked him to start coming to shul: "When I will retire, you can count on me." Of course, that day never came.
Rebbe Meir of Primishlan once interpreted the first verse of todays Torah reading in the following way:
"Vayehi mikeitz"and it will come to pass at the end of time, when man has attained a ripe old age, and behold he realizes that...
"shenasayim yamim"he slept away his whole year...
"upharoah"and suddenly it becomes evident to him, that...
"choleim"his entire life was a dream...
"vehu omeid al sefas hayeor"and only now does he realize that he is at the very edge of the water. He has not even gotten his feet wet and entered into the currents of life.
Our Sages teach that whenever you have the opportunity to do a mitzvah you should not delay in performing it. As Hillel put it, "If not now, when?"
What is true with mitzvos is true of life in generalone must not tarry when an opportunity presents itself.
There is one difference, however, between quickly performing a mitzvah and acting quickly in other matters. In the case of the latter one must weigh all options and try to avoid possible pitfalls.
We need not go any further than observing how Yosef Hatzaddik approached Pharaoh. Yosef advised him on how to cope with the impending years of famine, though Pharaoh had asked him only to interpret his dream, not to give him advice.
But, as the Dubner Maggid explains, Yosef realized that Pharaohs advisors would discourage him from accepting Yosefs interpretation of the dream. So he wisely suggested that Pharaoh appoint a minister to take charge of the affairs of state.
Predictably, each minister though himself to be most qualified for that post and none objected to Yosefs suggestion. They all endorsed and praised the plan.
When performing a mitzvah no delay is necessary. We approach it with confidence that HaShem will accept our deeds.
Rabbi Irving H. Goodman
Rabbi Goodman is rabbi of Congregation Ohave Sholom in Woodridge, New York.