Who’s Dream is it Any Way

Last year when reading Miketz, this week’s Torah portion, I explored the Jewish history in psychology. There we see Yosef who accurately interpreted the dreams of the baker and butler being brought to the Pharaoh to interpret his dreams. As Sigmund Freud wrote in his The Interpretation of Dreams, “Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious.” Surely being an interpreter of dreams makes Yosef the father of analysis.

After  Pharaoh recounts his two dreams we read:

And Yosef said to Pharaoh: ‘The dream of Pharaoh is one; what God is about to do God has declared to Pharaoh. The seven good cows are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one. And the seven lean and ill-favored cows that came up after them are seven years, and also the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind; they shall be seven years of famine. That is the thing which I spoke to Pharaoh: what God is about to do God has shown to Pharaoh. ( Genesis 41: 25- 28)

Yosef had a gift to interpret subtle facts and a desire to share that vision even if it did not make sense to others.  Yosef’s theory would  be tested to ensure that the experience matched the conclusions ( or minimally he bought himself 7 years to live). The most interesting part for me is his claim that is all “one dream”. In the process Yosef casts his lot with Egypt. Might this vision of it all being “one dream” have gone too far? 

Recently I reread Mama and the Meaning of Life by Irvin Yalom with my son Yishama. Yalom is also another Jewish psychotherapist and gifted writer who probes into the mysteries of the therapeutic encounter drawn from his own clinical experience.  The first story there is a richly rewarding, almost illicit glimpse into the therapist’s heart and mind, Momma and the Meaning of Life illuminates the unique potential of every human relationship.There he tells an amazing story of his recurring dream of his childhood with his mother. Spoiler alert , at the end of the story we read, “‘Your dream?’ That’s what I want to say to you. That’s the mistake, Oyvin- your thinking I was in your dream. That dream was not your dream, Sonny. It was my dream. Mother get to have dreams too. ” (Momma and the Meaning of Life 13)

We assume that Yalom’s dream is his own, but in fact it is his dream of his mother’s dream. So too might we assume that this “one dream” was actually just Pharaoh’s. This image of Yosef cast him getting too close to his patient and enmeshed with his client.  For analysis to be productive it cannot all be “one dream”. 

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