SPIN YOUR DREAMS
Pharaoh had a dream that nobody could interpret. The king's butler remembered that Joseph had accurately interpreted his dream and informs Pharaoh that there was a young, former Hebrew slave who was adept at interpreting dreams.
In his description of Joseph's ability to interpret dreams the butler says: "And it came to pass, as he had interpreted the dream so did it happen; he reinstated by him."
Rashi observes that this is one of the places where the Torah does not mention who the actor is, but relies on our understanding of the obvious, that it was Pharaoh who reinstated him, since he was the only one who was empowered to do it.
Ktav Sofer, a nineteenth century Biblical commentary, suggests an alternate understanding of who it was that reinstated the butler. It was Joseph! Joseph is the one who is mentioned in the beginning of the verse "And it came to pass that as he had interpreted the dream so did it happen." It follows then that the end of the verse, "I was reinstated by him," naturally refers to Joseph as well.
The obvious problem with this interpretation is that how could the Torah possibly attribute the butler's reinstatement to Joseph and not to Pharaoh. All Joseph did was to inform the distressed butler that his dream augured well for him. And it did. But Joseph seemingly had no say in his reinstatement.
Ktav Sofer addresses this problem and explains that, in fact, as the Talmud states, the way one interprets the dream is the way it materializes. By Joseph giving a positive "spin" to the butler's dream, it actually became a positive reality. Hence Joseph was actually the one who reinstated the butler by providing him with a positive interpretation of his dream.
To better understand the dynamics of how dream interpretation works a brief introduction about dreams is in order.
There are several types of dreams.
Most dreams are merely a confusing rehashing of the thoughts of the past day. These dreams that usually occur at the beginning of the night are designed to purge the soul from the negative static that attaches itself to the soul and prevents it from spiritual rejuvenation.
Some dreams, however, are prophetic, revealing hidden messages that are embedded in our consciousness. However, in most cases these dream messages are not etched in stone. They merely represent a potential for certain events to follow. The dream contains within it the potential for good or for the opposite. If one ascribes a positive meaning to the dream, the positive energy actually unleashes the positive potential of that dream, and vice versa. Perhaps it can be compared to the stem cells that can be developed into diverse organs. This, of course, depends on how they are treated.
When Joseph gave the butler a favorable interpretation, he was in fact, projecting positive energy that helped the butler realize his own positive potential. When Pharaoh reviewed the butler's crime and sentence he saw the butler in a new and positive light, and he therefore pardoned him.
At this point the question can be raised why Joseph did not offer a positive interpretation for the baker's dream. Wouldn't that have projected positive energy and brought about a positive outcome for the baker as well?
The answer lies in the different nature of the crimes these two ministers of the king were guilty of:
The butler served the king wine which had a fly in it. The baker served the king bread with a stone lodged in it. As commentators explain, finding a fly in the wine was pardonable; finding a stone in the bread was not.
What conceptually is the difference between wine and bread and how do they apply to us?
Wine is a delicacy and a luxury. Bread is a necessity.
When we stand before our Heavenly King, the A-mighty, though we may be deficient in the things that can be considered spiritual luxuries (the wine), as long as our basic attachment to G-d (the bread) is intact, there is hope that the basic goodness will assert itself and will allow the Joseph's of the world (the kind and positive people) to project positive energies at us that will allow our inner goodness to prevail.
When, however, our basic bond with G-d is lacking, and instead of the life sustaining bread, we offer Him a lifeless stone, even Joseph's positive energy could not help. Joseph's positive spin was a reaction to the positive energy he encountered in the butler. Unfortunately, the baker did not exude the same positive force.
As was discussed in previous messages, we are living in unique times. Because we are so close to the ultimate age of goodness, humanity experiences two contradictory phenomena.
We are witness to unprecedented positive energy as well as unparalleled negativity. The positive energy comes from the accumulation of goodness over the ages that was suppressed, but is beginning to burst through the seams of the elements that contain it. The evil, by contrast, is unleashing all of its power because it knows its life is soon coming to an end.
We are now the Joseph's of the world. It is our duty, now more than ever, to look for the positive energy in others and reflect that energy back at them.
This too is the lesson of Chanukah. Every night we light an additional candle. In the words of the Talmud, we are called upon to "continually increase." The Hebrew word for increase in this text is "mosaif," which is similar to Joseph, which also means "he will increase."
By increasing the light each night we are projecting and generating more and more positive energy, which in turn, activates the internal goodness within us. It creates an exciting vicious cycle that will soon "explode" into a world of perpetual light and goodness.
Rabbi Heschel Greenberg