Don’t stress, and don’t be angry with yourselves that you sold me here into slavery; actually God sent me ahead of you to save lives — says Joseph to his brothers. (Gen. 45:5)
At what point does Joseph clearly discern God’s plan for his work in Egypt?
Torah offers an answer: vayehi miketz shnatayim (Gen. 41:1)
Here is a literal, conventional translation: It happened at the end of two years.
And here is a literal, less conventional translation: It happened after waking up from two sleeps.
The two translations are connected. At the end of two years, Pharaoh wakes from two sleeps, each with a similarly disturbing dream. After each dream, Torah says: vayikatz Paroh, Pharaoh woke up.
But from what does Pharaoh wake up? Does he wake, like Jacob, from a sleep? If so, from what kind of sleep?
After Jacob dreams of the ladder, Torah says, vayikatz Ya’akov mishnato, Jacob woke up from his sleep (Gen 28:16). Jacob wakes up, and interprets his own dream, saying, “God was in this place and I, I did not know it.” Jacob seems to have woken up from two kinds of sleep: a physical sleep, and a spiritual sleep. He now sees the everyday waking world, and the presence of God within it.
Pharaoh, however, cannot interpret his own dream. He has awakened only from a physical sleep. When Joseph hears the dream, however, Joseph awakes from a spiritual sleep. Joseph sees that God has intertwined his fate with Pharaoh’s fate. He says, “What God does has been shown to Pharaoh” (Gen. 41:28).
Vayehi miketz shnatayim. It happened after two people awoke: after Pharaoh woke from his dream, and after Joseph woke to a new spiritual consciousness.
What would it take for you to see anew the presence of God in your life? Motivated by your new vision, what would you do differently?
Image: Siesta, by Vincent Van Gogh.