When Bridges Collapse (Miketz)

bridge-collapseLast week, the 14-member U.N. Security Council passed, with a vote of 13-0, a resolution condemning Israel’s expansion of settlements in occupied Palestinian lands. Prime Minister Netanyahu responded by recalling Israeli ambassadors, reprimanding foreign ambassadors, and cancelling foreign aid programs.

So, I dreamed: A woman travels to Israel by helicopter to rescue a child fleeing Syrian civil war. As she flies past a tall bridge, it collapses; debris rushes towards her. She gets into a car, driving fast to complete her mission, but the roads are blocked.

Bridges collapse, roads are blocked — these obvious symbols of diplomatic failure need no fancy interpretation. But the symbol of the lone woman does. She is neither celebrity nor leader. How do her personal travels represent a response to collective experience?

Torah says: Pharaoh dreamed: There he was, standing by the Nile, when seven cows came up out of the Nile…(Gen. 41:1).

Through Joseph’s interpretive lens, this dream predicts Egypt’s future. How does Joseph know this dream is about Egypt and not about Pharaoh’s personal life? Is it because Pharaoh, a national leader, naturally dreams about his nation?  No, says medieval Spanish commentator Rabbeinu Bachya (1255-1340). Joseph’s interpretation is based on the dream symbols, not the status of the dreamer. The Nile feeds all of Egypt; thus whatever emerges from it affects everyone.

Status and access to power are incidental to Joseph’s interpretation. Anyone can dream of public concerns. And perhaps anyone can take action. So the woman in my dream teaches. She has chosen a mission appropriate to her sphere of influence: to save a single child. She cannot prevent bridge damage or roadblocks. But she can keep going when they occur.

She is symbol that poses a question: What will you, a single individual with only a small sphere of influence, do as the bridges continue to collapse around us?

For more reflections on Parshat Miketz (Gen. 44:1-44:1), click here.

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