"Then Pharaoh awoke: it was a dream!" Genesis 41:7


Dreams can sometimes be so powerful that they actually change us. Three such instances of dreaming feature this week. The first are the two dreams of Pharaoh. He dreams of the seven sturdy and seven thin cows that rise up out of the Nile. "Then Pharaoh awoke".

He immediately goes back to sleep and this time he dreams of the seven strong and seven weedy ears of grain. "Then Pharaoh awoke, and behold it was a dream!" The portion's traditional haftarah (I Kings 3,4) sees Solomon dreaming his prayer that God might give him a heart of wisdom. He too suddenly awakes; totally transformed, as wise as he longs to be. The verb that features in these sudden awakenings, vayikatz, means waking up, suddenly, with new insight, from a life-changing dream.

Shabbat Chanucah brings its own special haftarah, from the book of Zechariah. Here, the prophet isn't really asleep, but he has a vision of an angel waking him: "And he roused me like a man who was roused from his sleep." Vayireni, "and he roused me", means a sense of waking up to reality. The angel asks him what he sees, and Zechariah describes his vision of a seven-branched silver menorah, He asks the angel what it means. In his reply, the angel speaks the core meaning of Chanucah: "Not by might, not by power, but by My spirit alone, says the Eternal One of Hosts". Like Zechariah, we too need rousing to truly "see" this vision. It is not a dream intended to change just one person, but a vision for the transformation of an entire people. The vision, and its message, still waits. Ready for the moment we awake. In these words in Zechariah's book and in the flames we light each evening this Chanucah.

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