Reflections on Parashat Vayeishev
by Kara Rosenwald
When getting my son ready for camp last summer, his first experience at Camp Ramah, one of his concerns about bunk life was sleeping in a bunk. How would he fall asleep? Would he be assigned a top or bottom bunk? What noises would be in the tzrif (bunk) during the night? Who would he say Shema with? What if he got too hot, or too cold? And what if he had a dream that bothered him? As we all know, dreams can be very powerful as seen in this week’s Parasha, Vayeishev, when Joseph, the chief cup bearer, and the chief baker all have dreams that predict their fate, both positively and negatively.
Joseph shares his dream of being in the field with his brothers in Genesis 37:7: “There we were binding sheaves in the field, when suddenly my sheaf stood up and remained upright; then your sheaves gathered around and bowed low to my sheaf.” Joseph also dreams about the moon and the stars and shares that dream with his brothers. His brothers were not happy to hear that Joseph was ruling over them, in not one, but in two different dreams. The brothers respond by selling Joseph into slavery and his beautiful tunic is soiled with the blood of a goat and taken to his father as evidence of his demise.
While Joseph’s dreams first brought him trouble with his brothers, his understanding and ability to interpret dreams becomes very helpful to him. Joseph is put in prison after a run-in with his master’s wife. While in prison, the chief cupbearer and chief baker are imprisoned in the same jail as Joseph. Joseph strikes up conversation and they share their dreams and their desire for an interpretation. In Genesis 40:8 Joseph says to them, “Surely G-d can interpret! Tell me (your dreams).” They both shared their dreams with Joseph and he interpreted for each of them. There was good news for the cup bearer and the baker was not so lucky.
This past summer at camp, my son found sleeping in his tzrif was not so hard after a couple of days at camp. Making friends with his bunkmates, being tired from days full of fun activities and yeshun (night time bunk stories from his counselors) all helped him sleep well and wake up with memories of good dreams.
The story of Joseph does not end with this parasha, and we are excited for the saga to continue to unfold. Similarly, the end of one camp season is not the end of the story, but just the beginning. I know that my camper joins hundreds of others as they look forward to continuing their story at Machane Ramah and sharing their dreams.