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    Bread & meat for a royal table – Mikketz

    Pharaoh’s two dreams both centred around food. One had to do with cows, the second with ears of corn.

    On waking from the second dream, “his spirit was knocking” (Gen. 41:8).

    One possibility is that his stomach was rumbling. The idea of food of any kind would have appealed to a well-nourished monarch. However, he was alarmed to think that the dreams suggested that he might have to eat sparingly.

    In the first dream, fat cows were swallowed up by thin cows, an omen that he would be short of meat. The king decided to fill up on bread, but then came the second dream in which fat ears of corn were eaten up by thin ones, so bread too might be in short supply. No wonder the royal stomach rumbled.

    That is if we translate vatipa’em rucho literally as “his spirit was knocking”.

    Other versions take a more metaphorical approach and say, “his soul was troubled” – the problem was not hunger as much as a psychological feeling that something strange was hidden in the dreams, and help was needed to interpret them.

    History was different because a Hebrew youth was called in to explain what it was all about. History was always different when Hebrew wisdom was called in by the world for answers to perplexing questions.

    That we received few votes of thanks is no news. But that Jews themselves so often look to alluring but inadequate outside philosophies – that is indeed surprising in view of the richness of our own tradition.

    How many stories about finding the treasure in our own garden do we need before we acknowledge what Judaism has for us?

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