Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Mikeitz 5631 First Ma'amar & beginning of Second Ma'amar

Pharaoh dreamt that seven fat cows came out of the Nile followed by seven emaciated ones. The emaciated cows devoured the fat cows. Even so, the lean cows looked the same as before. He then dreamt that seven fat ears of grain were devoured by seven withered ears. The withered ones looked the same as before.

According to Yosef’s interpretation, Pharaoh’s dreams referred to seven years of plenty to be followed by seven years of famine. Yosef suggested that Egypt prepare during the seven years of plenty so that they would be able to survive the subsequent famine.

Every physical thing has a spiritual counterpart which causes it to continue to exist. Even evil owes its continued existence to the Godly life force that is hidden within it. Pharaoh’s dreams are an allusion to this idea.

Describing the lean cows devouring the fat ones Pharaoh tells Yosef, “…they entered them, but one could not tell that they were inside.” When we look at the physical world around us, it seems that the world is autonomous. It looks like it exists on its own. Evil certainly seems to have autonomous power. The S’fas Emes teaches us that this is not the case. Even evil (along with everything else) gets its power to exist from the Godly life force within it.

The children of Israel were about to be exiled. They were going to be under Pharaoh’s rule. Pharaoh viewed himself as a god. The point of the dream was to show Pharaoh, at the outset of the exile in Egypt, that even though the children of Israel were to be under his rule, he had no power against God.

Continuing the line of thought that the good is an allusion to the Godly life force and evil owes its existence to that life force which hides within it, we can learn an important lesson. During the period that the Godly life force is revealed (e.g. seven years of plenty/seven fat cows) we should prepare ourselves for the days when the holiness is hidden. King Solomon teaches us in Koheles (7:14), “On a day of good, be in the good and on a day of evil, see.” This means that we should take full advantage at a time when God reveals Himself to establish the light within us so that it is there during the periods that God hides Himself. If we do this, then we will know how to act during the periods when the holiness is hidden.

Essentially, God hides himself to test us. Before every test, there is a Godly enlightenment. Knowing how to act during the test is a direct result of being aware of this enlightenment and assimilating it. This is the ultimate lesson of Pharaoh’s dreams.

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