When reading this week’s Parsha during shul on Shabbat I realized that the Parsha starts and ends with a dream, and in the middle are two stories of sexual (almost) immorality. I don’t really know what to make of it though.
We start with hearing Yosef’s dreams, and his brothers getting angry at him for sharing them. Him seeing the sheaves of wheat and the sun, moon and stars bowing down to him. His brothers get so angry with this “dreamer” that they seriously considered killing him, but in the end send him away.
Following this story we have the story of Yehudah and Tamar. Tamar’s husband does everything in his power not to get pregnant, and when he dies and she then marries his brother, he does the same. Tamar then dressed up as a prostitute and slept with Yehudah, and she becomes pregnant. It is after she shows him signs that he knows that child is his, and she did not do anything wrong.
And then we hear about Yosef getting to Egypt and being taken into Potifar’s house. His wife becomes infatuated with Yosef and tries to seduce him. According to the Gemara they got all the way to bed, before Yosef ran away. She accused him of seduction, and so he was thrown in jail.
At the very end of the Parsha we see the butler and the baker sharing their strange dreams to Yosef, who is able to interpret the dreams for them. One is sentenced to death, while the other will be freed. After he is freed from jail, Yosef is forgotten (at least until next week).
Here are some thoughts that are not totally worked out yet:
- It is about time and place. Yosef was annoying his brothers; they were not ready to hear his dreams (or didn’t want to hear about them all the time). Tamar took her situation in her own hands, only at the last resort, because that was the right time to do so. Yosef tried to keep away from Potifar’s wife, but it was the wrong time and place for him to be- no matter what he would do, he would be put into a compromising positing. And then it just so happened that he had to be in jail at the same time as the two who needed interpretations.
- Dreams and sex can be very powerful. I’m not sure why they are both together (please comment if you have an idea). But there is something very strong that can happen with telling and interpreting dreams, as well as being in places of sexual immorality.
- We see the fall and rise of Yosef and the fall of his brothers. Yosef thinks that he is so great, but his brothers try and get rid of him. He figures that he has left his family so he should be able to do whatever he wants, and so he actually gets in bed with Potifar’s wife. This then lands him in jail, potentially even lower than before, but the two guys there asking for help, remind him that he has skills that can be used for good, and so that is the start of bringing him back up. The brothers on the other hand think that they are so much better than Yosef, so they are willing to kill him. But in the end, it is Yehudah, who almost falls into a trap of doing wrong. They can start to see how easy it is to fall into being not liked, or doing the wrong thing.
These are some of my ideas. Do you have any? Feel free to leave a comment.