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The Future - In Memoriam of Mr. David M. Warren (Menachem Dovid ben Harav Yosef Z'L)
As Joseph sat in jail after being falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife, he saw the Pharoah’s Butler and Baker were distraught. When asked why, they answered, “We have dreamed a dream and there is no one to interpret it.” (Genesis 40:8)
 
Joseph then convinces them to share their dream with the following remark: “Don’t interpretations belong to G-d? Please tell it (the dream) to me.” (Genesis 40:8)

Joseph’s answer is very peculiar. It would be like telling a poor person he shouldn’t fear destitution because who has more money than G-d?

Based upon Joseph’s response, the Ralbag (Rabbi Levi ben Gershon, 1288-1344; Languedoc, France) has a different understanding of what transpired. The butler and baker weren’t afraid that no one could interpret their dream. Rather, they were afraid of how someone might interpret their dream. “Don’t interpretations belong to G-d?” In other words, since the interpretation already exists, there’s nothing to fear from learning what it is.

Still, wouldn’t the butler and baker still be justified in not wanting to know the future? Wouldn’t we not want to know we’re about to die, become critically ill, or lose a loved one? Wouldn’t we rather enjoy the time we have or be hopeful of a positive outcome?

Hence Joseph’s answer and the Ralbag’s commentary. The Hebrew word “PoTeR” can be translated as both “interpretation” and “solution”. Using the latter, Joseph’s response is “Don’t solutions belong to G-d?”

The Ralbag explains (Fifth Toelet) that we learn from Joseph’s remark that even if one is to seek advice about the future it should be mentally understood that the future is not set. Whatever the future may seem to hold, the “solutions belong to G-d”. And knowing the “solutions belong to G-d” should give us all the hope, the courage, and the strength to overcome whatever challenges the future may hold, however bleak they may appear.

Shabbat Shalom


 
   
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