Parshat Vayeitzei 2018


Parshat Vayeitzei
By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron


לשכנו תדרשו
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
And He Dreamt

The month of Kislev is full of parshiot that deal with dreams in sleep. According to the Kabbalistic work Sefer Yetzira the attribute of the month of Kislev is “sleep” (each month has a separate attribute, for example – Adar – laughter, Nisan – speech, etc.). Not only do we read these parshiot in the same month, but especially fascinating is the fact that each one of these dreams have another dream, read in this month, which is parallel to them. Four parallelisms from these dreams can be drawn (i.e., 8 dreams grouped into 4 “parallel sets”), each dream having a “double dream,” so-to-speak, as we will explain. Also, we should note that each of the four “sets” of dreams relates either to Yakov or Yosef. And Yakov and Yosef are deeply linked, as the Midrash says: “everything that happened to Yakov happened to Yosef” (Breshit Raba 84, 6).

In the first “set” of dreams, in this week’s parsha, Yakov dreams about angels ascending and descending a ladder, and is told that he will be returned to the Land of Israel. Then, at the end of this parsha, Yakov tells of his dream about an angel that indeed tells him to return to the Land of Israel. The second set of dreams are those Yosef tells his brothers, which contain the element of the number twelve, including twelve sheaves or stars, representing the twelve tribes/brothers, where eleven bow down to one, representing Yosef. The third set of dreams consists of the dream of Pharaoh’s wine-server and baker both of which have the element of the number three. Also, the wine-server and baker dream their dreams on the same night. The dreams of the wine-server and baker are interpreted by Yosef to refer to three days, while he interprets these dreams in opposite ways; the wine-maker is raised in position, while the baker is killed. The fourth set of dreams are the dreams of Pharaoh, both of which have the element of seven “skinny” ones [cattle/sheaves] swallowing seven “fat” ones [cattle/sheaves], and indeed Yosef interprets these dreams to refer to seven years of famine following seven years of plentitude, and so it was. What does all this mean?

Our Sages teach that one method of analysis of the Torah is through the Aramaic language, closely related to Hebrew (see Sifrei Haazinu). The word root for dream in Hebrew – “h.l.m” – in Aramaic means “to unite.” This can be explained according to our Sages assertion that “a dream is 1/60th of prophecy.” Just as through prophecy God unites/connects and communicates with the prophet, so too through a dream God communicates with the dreamer, albeit on a much lower level. Taking all the above into consideration, we see that the secret of dreams is strongly connected to Hebron, the City of Unity and Prophetic Revelation, as can be seen in the verse: “and Hashem appeared to Avraham in Elonei Mamreh (Hebron).” Also, in the heart of Hebron, Kiryat Arba – “City of the Four” – lies Maarat Hamachpela, the tomb of the four saintly couples. Is there a connection between “four couples” and the “four coupled dreams” we’ve described? A fascinating connection between these couples and the dreams can be found when we consider the common Divine purpose of each set of these dreams. In regard to the first set of dreams, Yakov’s dreams, we see that both his dreams pertain to the Divine value of Yakov’s return to the Holy Land. It seems that this message is the most Divine of all the other sets of dreams, since it is delivered through angels and also it relates to the resting of the Holy Presence in the Land through the return and settlement of Yakov in the Land. It is through the settlement of Jews in the Land that the Holy Presence rests. As we explained last week, Avraham is the paradigm of the more Divine light coming coming as we are closer to its source, and therefore this set of dreams parallels Avraham and his wife Sarah who is united with him. The second set of dreams, the dreams dreamt by Yosef, together come to teach the superiority of Yosef in relationship to his brothers, a matter that sheds light on Yakov who is deeply connected to Yosef, as the aforementioned Midrash states. Therefore, this set of dreams corresponds to Yakov and his wives Rachel and Leah united with him. The third set of dreams, the dreams of the wine-server and the baker, together are unique in showing the power of Yosef’s discernment of dreams and their interpretations since in this case the interpretations of the dreams stood in opposition to each other. The power of discernment is attributed to the attribute of judgment, which is the attribute of Yitzhak and his wife Rivka united with him. The fourth set of dreams, the dreams of Pharaoh are unique in teaching Yosef’s power of practical leadership, in regard to the seven years of plenty and famine, leading to his position as “second to the king” of Egypt. The attribute of kingship can be traced to Adam (and his wife Hava united with him) who was king over creation. According to our Sages, Adam also gave seventy years of his life to King David who lived seventy years, so instead of living a thousand years, as he was supposed to, he lived 930 years (see Yalkut Shimoni Breshit 41). And King David is the paradigm of kingship, meaning that Adam, who brought about David’s ability to live in the first place, is deeply connected to the attribute of kingship as well.

This is Hebron the burial site of all these great couples who all communicated with Hashem through full prophecy. Indeed, this is Hebron, the City of Couples, the City of Unity, the City of Divine Communication.


Real Stories from the Holy Land #289

The Avraham Avinu Synagogue in Hebron received its name based on a dream dreamt by the Rabbi of this community’s synagogue. According to the book ‘Emek HaMeleh’ the Jews of this Hebron community were missing a tenth man to complete a minyan for the prayers of Yom Kippur and were very vexed by the situation. Miraculously, a stranger appeared and completed the minyan, disappearing right after Yom Kippur. Soon after, the Rabbi of the community dreamt that it was Avraham our Patriarch – ‘Avraham Avinu’ – who had compassion on the community and thereby appeared as the man who had completed their minyan.

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