Miketz: Biblical Psychoanalysis

Egyptian Nail ArtThanks to the efforts of Sigmund Freud and others, dream interpretation is now a hallmark of psychoanalysis. Long before Freud, there lived another Jew who came to be known for his cutting-edge dream interpretations, namely, Yosef. In this week’s Torah portion, Pharaoh is plagued with confusing dreams that contain images of undernourished and overfed cows, as well as healthy and dried-out ears of grain. According to the Midrash in Genesis Rabbah 89:6, Pharaoh consulted with  individuals who specialized in dream interpretation to analyze his dreams, but none of their interpretations were acceptable to him. It was not until Pharaoh heard the opinions of all of of his dream experts, that his cup-bearer decided to tell him about Yosef.

The Midrash explains that God waited until Pharaoh was exhausted so that Yosef could come and revive Pharaoh’s spirit with his dream interpretations. God’s timing was perfect, and ultimately Pharaoh was open to Yosef’s difficult, yet accurate, interpretations of his dreams. Like Pharaoh, when it comes to our dreams, our health, or other life decisions, we often find it helpful to seek guidance from those around us, including friends, relatives, or experts in a particular field. As in the case of Pharaoh, sometimes we may even find the best advice from unexpected places. May we be blessed to have many Yosefs in our lives.


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