This week's Torah reading, Miketz, begins with Joseph getting out of prison and becoming the viceroy of Egypt and continues until just before he reveals his identity to his brothers. It parallels the beginning and end of last week's reading, Vayeshev, in that they all involve dreams: the dreams of Joseph, of the ministers of Pharaoh, and of Pharaoh himself. All of these dreams were instrumental in the eventual descent of Jacob's children to Egypt. This eventually turned into the Egyptian exile. This first exile of the Jewish people is the root of all the other exiles that must precede the coming of the Mashiach. So, we must ask, what is the connection between a dream and exile? The unique aspect of a dream is the power of imagination involved…

While it is true that we often dream about events currently happening in our lives, the unique aspect of a dream is the power of imagination involved. When we wake from sleep, the intellect takes control. Not so while we are asleep: our intellect is in the shadow, we can see even an elephant going through the hole of a pin, something that can not really happen. Exile is the same. To us it appears we love G‑d, while in fact our actions prove we are in love with ourselves to the extent that we become so sunk in the quagmire that we can actually go against G‑d's will.

What can we do? How do we remove ourselves from this dream, this exile? The answer is to wake up from the dream, to see the truth. We have to realize that there is a G‑d in the world who cares how we act. We also have to consider that our children, their future, and our relationship with them is more important than most of what presently takes priority in our lives. Time lost from our own growth is often lost, period. Know that the exile is a dream that will soon end. Our ability to elicit from on high comes only with effort…

This is the difference between the dreams of Joseph who represents holiness, and Pharaoh who represents kelipa, the shell that conceals holiness. Joseph's dreams begin with the words, "Behold, we were sheaving sheaves", emphasizing that everyone was involved in working. Not so in Pharaoh's dreams, where there is no aspect of work, only the images of cows and corn. This is to tell us that in the realm of holiness there is no free lunch; our ability to elicit from on high comes only with effort, from getting your hands dirty. On the other hand, with kelipa, there is no need for work, struggle or effort; it is all lawless and easy.

Holiness is eternal, it doesn't get lost. The only alteration possible is increasing it or going to a higher level. In contrast, kelipa is always changing and diminishing. The reason for this is that kelipa has no independent existence. Its only function is to test a person in the fulfillment of his mission and deter him from revealing his inner strengths. When we succeed in overcoming the obstacles, in subduing the kelipa, it no longer has a purpose and will cease to exist.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul


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