A Dreamy Omen by Tzvi Zuckier


When Yosef proudly told his brothers about his first dream of superiority, they were not pleased.  As the Pasuk records, “Vayomeru Lo Echav, ‘Hamaloch Timloch Aleinu?  Im Mashol Timshol Banu?’  Voyosifu Od Sino Oto Al Chalomotav VeAl Devarav,” “And his brothers said to him, ‘Will you really reign over us?  Will you indeed dominate us?’  And they hated him still more because of his dreams and because of his words” (37:8).  Why did the brothers use both the phrases “will you really reign over us” and “will you indeed dominate us”?  Why could one phrase not suffice?

Dov Furer in his book Torah Treasures quotes Rav Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik, who offers a most satisfying answer.  The Gemara in Berachot (55b) states that dreams are fulfilled in the way that the interpreter believes they will be.  Because Yosef’s brothers predicted for Yosef’s “Meluchah” (kingship) and “Memshalah” (domination) over them, this is eventually what occurred.  “Meluchah” implies the consent of those who are serving the ruler, while “Memshalah” is defined as absolute dominion.  The Memshalah aspect of the brothers’ interpretation of the dream occurred when the brothers came to Egypt and were compelled to bow down to Yosef.  Later (Bereishit 50:18), when Yaakov died, the brothers came and said that they would willingly be Yosef’s servants, fulfilling the Meluchah part of the dream.  Both phrases are required because each one is distinct; they foreshadow two different occurrences.

What was Rav Soloveitchik’s precedent for this wonderful answer?  Maybe it can be found in the Haamak Davar comments to our Pasuk (recall that the author of the Haamek Davar, Rav Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin, was the great grandfather of Rav Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik).  The Haamek Davar explains that Meluchah refers to rule by consent and Memshalah refers to rule even without the consent of those who are ruled. He explains that the brothers interpreted part of the dream as indicating Yosef’s future Meluchah.  This supports Rav Soleveitchik, as the Netziv indicates that the brothers did indeed interpret the dreams in a manner that impacted on future events.

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