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A Weekday Taste of Torah for December 8, 2017

12/13/2017 09:25:57 AM


Rabbi Biatch

A Weekday Taste of Torah

For the parashah of Vayeishev

Genesis 37:1 – 40:23


The Joseph story cycle begins! This is the stuff that dreams are made of!

Joseph’s brothers kidnap and sell him into Egyptian slavery! His master Potifar’s wife’s unsuccessfully attempts to seduce him! He gets thrown into an Egyptian prison, and he meets the Pharaoh’s butler and baker whose dreams he correctly interprets! And then, they forget about him, even though the butler promised to remember him and have him be offered a reprieve!

Great drama, great theatre!

One of the primary focuses of this portion is dreams, and their influence in the lives of our biblical ancestors. For them, dreams represented not only a vision into the divine mind, but also a foreshadowing of their destinies. They learned how God would influence their lives and their fortunes.

Contrast, now, what dreams mean to us: We have yet to learn whether they are the detritus of our reactions to our days’ events, or unfulfilled unconscious wishes, or the result of our inner mind’s problem-solving tasks. Some of us rise refreshed, other of us may be plagued by the strange events we perceive while sleeping.


There are others whose dreams may not be in the unconscious mind, but represent hopes to be fulfilled, or major aspirations in their lives. Each dream they have reflects an optimism that, one day, they will realize their dreams and participate freely in the life that God has granted them. These dreamers have the most difficult future ahead of them. This is because of others who wish to control the dreamers’ destiny, who do not want to help them fulfill their dreams.


The dreamers I refer to are those 800,000 migrants who live in our country as part of the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. These young people arrived in our nation as children, some as young as a few months, who have lived here continuously, who know no other home, and who now face punishment, such as deportation, for no real infraction of the law, but only because their parents brought them here because of their desperate need to flee persecution and economic deprivation.

The Hebrew bible states on 37 occasions that we need to be mindful of the plight of the ‘stranger’, because ‘we knew the heart of the stranger having been strangers ourselves in the land of Egypt.’ Our experience as servants to Pharaoh, re-enacted each year during the Passover seder, stimulates our empathy for the needs of others, and we must act on that empathy in order to save lives that are desperate and difficult.

These dreamers deserve a chance to live a life of promise, here in their adopted nation to which they have paid taxes, and in which they have taken various jobs that few if any Americans would enjoy, and in which they have lived virtually all their lives. Their lease on secure living here ends next March, and it is incumbent upon us American citizens to advocate on their behalf and help them remain secure in their lives.

I encourage you to contact your national legislators and ask them to support the new, clean DACA legislation when it is introduced into the Congress. We can bring dream fulfillment to these dreamers if we, ourselves, help them live up to their dreams.

July 25, 2021 16 Av 5781