I saw a thought on this week’s parsha which I wanted to share. Although it’s definitely drush, the idea is surely emes.
In this week’s parsha, we find Yosef Hatzaddik taken out from the depths of his prison cell and promoted to second in command of the most powerful society of its time. People undoubtedly worked for years to obtain what Yosef achieved in a relatively short period.
None of the other brothers of Yosef merited to be this close to Kingship in their lives. It was only Yosef who merited attaining such a position of malchus. The question is, why did Yosef deserve malchus more than the other brothers? What made him different from everyone else which warranted him obtaining malchus?
Rav Eliezer Geldzahler answers this question b’derech drush. He says that the difference between Yosef and the brothers is that Yosef had dreams. When he brought his dreams to the brothers, they discredited his dreams and said they meant nothing. But deep down, Yosef believed in his dreams. He dared to dream.
If a person wants to merit seeing greatness, he needs to be able to dream. He has to be able to see himself as who he wants to be. That way, it’s not just a fantasy, but a possible reality.
Yet there’s another nuance included in the dream of Yosef. The Gemara in Gittin tells us that most dreams don’t contain any notion of legitimate value. So what made Yosef’s dreams different? Or even furthermore, what made Pharaoh’s dreams different that they eventually became reality?
The answer is that it wasn’t a dream which happened just once. It recurred. Pharaoh had the dream twice before summoning Yosef. If a person wants his dreams to become a reality, he needs the dreams to be constant, always on his mind. It can’t just be a passing desire which one experiences one morning when he wakes up. If a person really wants to be something, the dream needs to recur, day after day.
I know someone who constantly fluctuates in his career plan. One year, he set his sights on being a dentist. The next year, he changed his mind and decided he wanted to be a full blown doctor. The next year he decided he wanted to give up his medical aspirations and become a lawyer. Finally, he decided that all he really wanted to do was real estate. It may sound funny, but since his dreams fluctuated, he was never able to really achieve anything. Everything becomes a passing desire, but there can never be a constant effort for something if the goal isn’t set and perceived in advance. The same thing is with us. A person can’t expect to become a big talmid chacham if he dreams of becoming a talmid chacham one day and a wealthy businessman the next day. It needs to recur, over and over again. It needs to be entrenched into his psyche, that the person walks around saying “this is my dream, this is my goal.”
A good friend told me today a vort from the Ponovenzher Rav on Chanuka. He asked, when we sing Hallel and Hoda’ah to HaShem for the wars in “Al HaNissim,” what’s the intention? The simple explanation is that we’re thanking HaShem for being victorious in the battle between the Greeks and the Jews. The Ponovezher Rav says that there’s a deeper Kavanah. He says that the wars of the Jews never stop. For such a small people, we’re constantly in the limelight, fighting against all those who wish to destroy us. When was the last time we weren’t defending ourselves? After all this fighting, what gives us the strength to go on? This is the intention, says the Ponovezher Rav. Not that we were victorious. We thank HaShem for the strength to continue to fight. To be able to constantly persist and fight back against those who wish to destroy us.
A person needs to dare to dream. If he wants to become great, he needs to dream about becoming great. And there will always be people and circumstances which try to tell him to give up those dreams. It may happen once, it may happen again and again. One of the focal points of Chanuka is thanking HaShem for giving us the koach to always fight. To stand up for what we believe in. To not just dream, but to fight for our dreams. Even when people tell us we’re being delusional, and the dream is too far out of reach, our power is to fight, to cling to what we believe in and strive to become better, to overcome our obstacles and successfully fulfill our dreams.