Yosef the Psychic by Avi Wollman

(2003/5764)

This week’s Parsha records the story of Yosef being sent to jail, and his encounter with Paroh’s baker and butler.   We are told that each of them had a dream that they relate to Yosef.  Yosef then interprets that the baker will be hanged and the butler will live. However, the Torah does not relate exactly how Yosef goes by predicting the fates of these men.  An answer is given by the Iturei Chaim concerning the roles of each person in their respective dreams. The butler says while telling over his dream, “The cup of Paroh was in my hand; I took the grapes; I squeezed them; and I placed the cup in Paroh’s palm” (40:11). Yosef inferred that since the butler is active in his dream, and because only a person who is alive can be active, Yosef interpreted that the butler would live.  Conversely, when the baker tells over his dream he says, “On my head were baskets full of baked goods… and a bird was eating from the baskets” (40:16-17).  In this dream the baker is completely inactive, therefore, Yosef concluded that since a dead man cannot be active, the passivity of the baker is a sign of the baker’s death. We know see how Yosef was able to predict the fates of the two men using two very peculiar dreams.   

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