Life is but a Dream by Dr. Joel Berman


ויהי בבקר ותפעם רוחו

“And it was in the morning; his spirit was agitated...”(41:8).

How was it that a seemingly absurd dream upset Paroh to such an extent that he assembled all of his ministers and wise men for its interpretation?

Rav Shimon Schwab says that Paroh perceived an interpretation that caused him great worry.  It was Paroh's experience that in every two-sided conflict the many overcome the few and the mighty overcome the weak.  He therefore was able to sit confidently on his throne, his hold on his empire secure, knowing that he represented the mighty and numerous.  In his dream, however, the weak ate the mighty.  Rav Schwab explains that Paroh saw this as a sign of impending revolt in his empire, a unique revolt in which the few and the weak would overcome the many and the mighty.  It turns out that Paroh would have to wait a long time to see this interpretation fulfilled.

Perhaps Paroh's interpretation was fulfilled during the time of Chanukah, when Matityahu ben Yochanan and his five sons began a rebellion in Modiin, first against their Hellenist co-religionists and afterwards against the Seleucid empire itself.  Perhaps Paroh's interpretation was fulfilled again this time of year, fifty-four years ago, when Chaim Herzog reported that the total armament at the Hagana's disposal consisted of 10,500 rifles, 4300 machine-guns, 200 3-inch mortars, and a few sightless artillery pieces from the turn of the century that belonged in museums.  At that time, the Jews possessed enough ammunition for only three days fighting.  Facing them were five organized, well-equipped, modern armies, possessing modern artillery, tanks, planes, and an abundance of ammunition.

We see that it is no coincidence that we read Parshat Miketz during Chanukah.  After all, this really is the time of delivery of the mighty and the many into the hands of the weak and the few, as we say in Al Hanisim, מסרת גבורים ביד חלשים ורבים ביד מעטים, “You [Hashem] delivered the strong into the hands of the weak and the many into the hands of the few.”

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