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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Mikeitz(66)

This sedra continues with saga of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph quickly ascends the political ladder in Egypt when he successfully interprets Pharaoh's dream.

Genesis 41:7

And the seven thin ears swallowed up the seven plump and full ears. And Pharaoh woke and, behold, it was a dream.


'and behold, it was a dream." : Rashi: and behold a whole dream was completed before him and demanded an interpreter.


A Question: Why does Rashi make this comment? What is he telling us?

What prompted him - What is bothering him?

Hint: Compare our verse with verse 41: 4 above.

Your Answer:


An Answer: In verse 41:4 after Pharaoh's first dream it also says "And Pharaoh woke up," but it does not say "and behold it was a dream."

Why does it say it here and not there?

This is what prompted Rashi's comment.

How does his comment deal with the difficulty?

Your Answer:


An Answer: The word "behold" (Hebrew: "hinei") usually means a sudden awareness. Compare to this to Jacob's rude awakening (29:25): "And in the morning behold it was Leah." Here "and behold it was a dream" means that Pharaoh was now suddenly consciously aware of his experience as a dream. In 41:4 he dreamt but apparently fell back asleep before he knew that he had dreamt. He was half asleep. Now it was nearly morning and he was more awake and had the awareness that his experience was a dream.


What does Rashi mean to add with the words "a whole dream was completed before him" ?

Your Answer:


An Answer: I would say, Rashi means to tell us that Pharaoh now connected the previously unconscious first dream with his second dream, which he was fully conscious of & he realized intuitively that the two were in reality one dream. See verse 41: 8 "and Pharaoh told his dream (singular - one dream) to them and no one could interpret them (two dreams) to Pharaoh." The Egyptian interpreters thought these were two separate dreams; Pharaoh knew they were, in essence, one dream. Joseph won Pharaoh's approval because he too realized the two were, in reality, one dream.

So the two were one completed dream, as Rashi said.


What does Rashi mean by "and demanded an interpreter." Why add these words?

Your Answer:


An Answer: Rashi connects our verse with the next verse, where Pharaoh seeks an interpretation of his dream. Had the Torah omitted the words "and it was a dream" what would have been missing?

The connecting link would have been missing. Since it was a dream and Pharaoh was aware that it was a dream (not like many dreams we have which we immediately forget) as it says "and behold it was a dream" and a dream is always a mystery. So he sought an interpretation of its meaning.

Rashi is telling why the words "and behold it was a dream" are necessary - they link up with Pharaoh's search for a competent dream interpreter. This lead to discovering Joseph - and the rest is history.

From Pharaoh to Freud, the ability to interpret dreams has been considered a mysterious wisdom. But Joseph, who possessed that wisdom, denied it was his personal talent. See he says (verse 41: 16) "G-d will answer the peace of Pharaoh." Joseph's modesty is a far cry from Freud and his students' conceited claim to the exclusive wisdom of the unconscious. Joseph's fees were also less exorbitant than those of Freud & his followers!

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

"What's Bothering Rashi?" is produced by the Institute for the Study of Rashi and Early Commentaries. The five volume set of "What's Bothering Rashi?" is available at Judaica bookstores.

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