Tuesday, December 23, 2014

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Sydney Eben on Mikketz

At the beginning of this Torah portion, Joseph is called upon to interpret Pharaoh’s two very strange dreams. The first was about 7 fat cows being eaten by 7 lean cows. The second one was about 7 healthy sheaths of wheat being devoured by 7 wilting sheaths of wheat.

Many of my friends and family think of me as a creative person and an out of the box thinker.   Joseph was too.  He took the opportunity of interpreting the dreams and turned it to his advantage.  By the end of his meeting with Pharaoh, he had not only interpreted the dreams, but he was given the position as second in command of Egypt.  He came from the bottom of society – a slave, a prisoner, and rose to the top of the nation.

Having studied these dreams in great detail, what if there was another angle?  What if Joseph wasn’t so much an out of the box thinker as just really lucky?  More of an opportunist? I’ve come up with several other plausible interpretations for these dreams that Joseph overlooked.  Here they are:
Maybe the fact that skinny cows devoured fat cows meant that the people would have to drink skim milk for seven years.  Or maybe even become lactose intolerant, as so many people in this room are.
Maybe the skinny cows represented a new nation that would some day overthrow the great kingdom of Egypt.  Little did Joseph know that that would actually happen hundreds of years later and it would be his descendants who would cause great Egyptian turmoil.

              Another interpretation could be that it was a prophecy to Joseph that his brothers were fighting amongst themselves, like the fat cows and the skinny cows, and they needed him.  After all, Joseph had an odd and awkward relationship with his brothers.

             Although I don’t have a coat of many colors, I feel that my Torah study at school has encouraged ME to be an interpreter of MANY things. Whether it’s Hebrew text or how I interpret directions from my parents, like when to go sleep, to make my bed and clean up my room, or how to get out of the house on time in the morning, it all comes down to interpretation!

              For my mitzvah project, I am raising funds for the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind. I combined my love of dogs with my wish to help out in some way in Israel. This organization raises funds for puppies to be trained as dogs for the blind and even dogs that don’t make guide dog status are still used for people with other disabilities, so no person is turned away if they have a need. MY dream would be to have all 27,000 people on the wait list to have a guide dog for their independence and companionship!

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