Friday, December 30, 2005

Subliminal Message

When Yosef dreams that the sun, moon, and eleven stars will bow down to him, Yaakov expresses dismay or disbelief that the whole family is destined to serve Yosef:

"מה החלום הזה אשר חלמת, הבוא נבוא אני ואמך ואחיך להשתחות לך ארצה?"

The obvious problem with the dream, and with Yaakov's interpretation of it, is that such a scenario is impossible. Yosef's mother (Rachel) is already dead, so she won't ever be able to bow down to Yosef. Shouldn't this be clear to everyone?

We must conclude that the question is rhetorical, and that Yaakov meant to point out the impossibility of the dream's fulfillment, given Rachel's death. Interestingly, Yaakov's statement may explicitly hint at this. A sequence of six letters in the middle of the statement spells out the Hebrew for "Rachel is dead":

"...אשר חלמת הבא..."

This could be a great example of the idea that every letter in the Torah has meaning. But even if unintentional, it would still be a pretty cool coincidence. Credit goes to R' Amnon Bazak for pointing out this "subliminal message".

By the way, I heard it suggested that the sun and moon actually represent Egypt and Mesopotamia, the two main civilizations of the time, which were subservient to Yosef at the time of the famine. This, of course, would make the dream much more ambitious that one might have thought. And of course, there is always Chazal's interpretation that the sun was indeed Yaakov, but that the moon was meaningless, because all dreams include an element of nonsense.


Anonymous said...

You're back!

Ok, I didn't have a chumash at services this shabbat and thus did not actually read the parsha, so I wouldn't have noticed the subliminal message, or even that the dream couldn't be fulfilled. But it's a cool idea.

of course, when you say things like "Rachel is dead" that will immediately get my attention. I read it as the English pronuciation as opposed to רחל. I'm not dead yet!

Yay for actually updating! will this be a regular occurence, or did you just randomly have computer access?

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Whoa, that's crazy!

It's like playing Beatles records backwards...

Mar Gavriel said...

Interestingly, Yaakov's statement may explicitly hint at this.

Don't you mean "implicitly"?

Beisrunner said...

I thought about that, and because the letters are physically in the text, I decided it was explicit. That said, the phrase "explicitly hint" is admittedly weird, but I figured it was justified.