This week’s Parsha, Mikeitz, begins with Yosef interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams. Following the incident in jail, in which he correctly predicts the butler’s freedom, and the baker’s execution, he is summoned to the royal court, and Pharaoh gives an account of his dreams, which Yosef correctly interprets to be about the plentiful harvest and the famine which will follow.
The Talmud tells us that dreams are subject to the interpreter. The dream itself is essentially devoid of apparent meaning; it’s up to the one interpreting the dream to find the hidden meaning. Only then are dreams worthwhile analysing or dwelling upon, and only then can they form prophecies.
Of course, the rabbis in the Talmud said this in reference to the sort of dreams that we have while we are asleep. But there’s another kind of dream: an ambition. Something we would like to do, something which we daydream about, even. And as I thought about the whole issue of dreams and interpretations, I realised the rabbinical statement applies to this second type of dream, as well.
Once we utilise the powers of interpretation, there is no such thing as an unfulfilled dream. We might dream about doing something, only for it to go wrong, but if we analyse and interpret our dreams- the dreams we have while we’re awake- then we realise that there is meaning and purpose in everything that happens to us.
Perhaps our dream didn’t turn out quite right. Let’s say we dreamed of spending a life with someone, only to find that they’re not the right one. It’s heartbreaking and painful and feels a lot more like a nightmare than a dream- but once we’ve moved past that, we start to realise something. We realise that maybe they treated us badly, or vice versa. Maybe you didn’t get on well together after all. Maybe, due to circumstances and limitations, it wouldn’t have been a fairytale “dream” relationship after all.
When we think this way, we can interpret our dreams. We can realise that even if it initially seems like that particular dream has gone wrong, there are actually hidden blessings in everything. Sometimes they are so hidden that we can’t see a blessing at all- for example in the case of death- but sometimes, it takes just a bit of interpretation to realise that maybe our dream was fulfilled after all- just in a slightly different way than we imagined.
Just as Yosef interpreted prophecies in Pharaoh’s dreams in Parshas Mikeitz, we, too, hold the power to read important messages into the dreams we have while we’re still awake. So next time you find yourself dreami about what you’d like to do- or next time you mourn a dream that ‘went wrong’- stop and think. After all, dreams are in the hands of the interpreter, and perhaps there’s a crucial message here, too.