This past Thanksgiving I had the privilege and honor of joining my brother-in-law, Coach David Zimmerman and his good friend Brian Scott to be a guest on ‘The Last Call Podcast’, talking about Dallas sports (available on iTunes). In our conversation we talked a lot about the Dallas Cowboys and the situation with their quarterback Tony Romo. He had been injured during the first part of the season and little did we know as we were talking that he would be injured again that Thursday, probably ending his season. Our discussion revolved around the fact that it is clear that Tony Romo, at his age, is coming towards the end of his playing career and we talked about how the Dallas Cowboys plan for the future?
In this week's Torah portion we have Pharaoh's dreams. His first dream involves: “seven cows, handsome and sturdy, and they grazed in the reed grass” (Gen. 41:2) coming from the Nile. They are then followed by seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, and the gaunt cows eat up the handsome sturdy cows. He then has a second, similar dream about corn. Now I'm not an expert in the interpretation of dreams and I'm not sure what my answer would have been if Pharaoh had asked for my explanation. But it is clear that in both cases these dreams were ripe for interpretation and ripe for an explanation involving seven good things and then seven negative things.
When Pharaoh sends for all of Egypt's wise men and magicians none of them can interpret the dream for Pharaoh. I find this hard to believe and I wonder if Pharaoh was really looking for an interpretation of the dream. When his cup bearer steps forward and tells him of Joseph and his skill for interrupting dreams, Joseph is rushed from the dungeon to offer the interpretation. And as we read of Joseph’s interpretation it is not simply that he says that this means there will be seven good years and then seven bad years; he actually offers the necessary planning for the future.
Joseph tells Pharaoh what he must do in order to secure the future for Egypt: “let Pharaoh find a man of discernment and wisdom, and set him over the land of Egypt. And let Pharaoh take steps to appoint overseers over the land, and organize the land of Egypt in the seven years of plenty. Let all the food of these good years that are coming be gathered, and let the grain be collected under Pharaoh's authority as food to be stored in the cities” (Gen 41:33-35). Joseph’s skill in this moment is not just in interpreting the dream, but it is in planning for the future. He sees the writing on the wall, recognizing that there will be seven good years and seven bad years, and then he plans accordingly.
Through this planning Joseph saved not just Egypt, but ultimately his own family and therefore, by extension, all of us, the Jewish people. When we see the writing on the wall, whether we are Joseph, the Dallas Cowboys, or anyone else, the important thing is that we plan accordingly and prepare for the future.