27 Kislev 5782 / Wednesday, December 01, 2021 | Torah Reading: Mikeitz
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Vayeshev: The Dream Interpreter    

Vayeshev: The Dream Interpreter

Just then, Reb Yankel had an intense dream. In the dream, the King came to visit him. He treated the King with his usual generosity. While they...


"We [each of Pharoah’s servants] had a dream,’ they replied, ‘and there is no one [here] to interpret it.’"
"‘Dream interpretations come from God,’ replied Yoseph [Joseph]. ‘If you want to, tell me about [your dreams].’" (Bereishit 40:8)
* * *
During the time of the Baal Shem Tov, there was an extremely hospitable man, Reb Yankel, who greatly enjoyed providing comfortable lodgings and delicious meals to the poor people passing through his village.
If that wasn’t enough, he also sent his guest away with a generous amount of money to help them on their way. Unfortunately, Reb Yankel had one glaring character flaw. That is, he would always applaud himself for his generosity and ask others, “Wasn’t that great of me?”
Word of Reb Yankel’s great generosity and also his boastfulness reached the Baal Shem Tov. Realizing that Reb Yankel’s conceit greatly reduced the worthiness of the wonderful mitzvah of honoring guests, the Baal Shem Tov sent his student Reb Zev Kotses on a mission to rectify the situation.
“Reb Zev," said the Baal Shem Tov, “just go to Reb Yankel’s and act as if you are a wandering beggar. Accept his hospitality and the right thing will happen. And if he wishes, please bring him to me."
Just before Shabbat, Reb Zev wandered into Reb Yankel’s little village. It wasn’t too long before he was provided with comfortable lodging and hospitality for Shabbat at Reb Yankel’s home.
After Reb Zev was settled, Reb Yankel inquired, “Don’t you think I’m a remarkable host?”
Reb Zev answered, “We’ll see.”
After a delicious Shabbat meal, with plenty of l’Chaims, talks of Torah and singing, all of the guests went to sleep in a large room set aside for that purpose. Reb Yankel had the custom of sleeping in the room among his guests. After Reb Yankel had fallen asleep, Reb Zev reached over and touched his hand.
Just then, Reb Yankel had an intense dream. In the dream, the King came to visit him. He treated the King with his usual generosity. While they were eating and talking, the King suddenly slumped over and died.
The King's attendants grabbed Reb Yankel and locked him in the King’s prison on the charge of poisoning the King. The situation looked bleak, when suddenly a fire broke out in the prison and Reb Yankel escaped. He traveled for many days and finally ended up in a remote village where he became the water carrier. Being that this village had many wells and several streams, Reb Yankel could barely make a living. Then one day, he fell while carrying two pails of water across his back. He broke both his legs and was in such intense pain that he couldn’t move. Suddenly, remembered how he had once been a rich man and he began to cry.
Just then, Reb Yankel awoke with a start. When he realized he was safe and comfortable in his own bed, he nearly fainted. Then he saw Reb Zev staring into his eyes. He blurted out, “Oh my Heavens! I just had such a profound, scary dream.”
Reb Zev said, "If you want to, tell me about it."
After Reb Yankel told him the entire dream, he asked, “What do you think it means?”
Reb Zev answered, “I’m not sure, but I think the Baal Shem Tov could interpret it for you.”
So as soon as Shabbat was over, they traveled together to Medzibush.
When Reb Yankel met the Baal Shem Tov, he told him all the details of his dream. When Reb Yankel asked for an interpretation, the Rebbe explained, “When God comes to you in the form of guest, He can’t remain in your presence because of your pride. So He allows His servants to threaten and punish you. But before anything really bad happens, He allows you to escape because of the merit of your mitzvah of hospitality. Nevertheless, because of your conceit, spiritually you are like an extremely poor, suffering man.”
When the Baal Shem Tov finished, Reb Yankel cried out, “Oh Rebbe, please help me!”
With the help and instruction from the Baal Shem Tov, Reb Yankel was aroused to repent. He returned to his home free of his pride and he continued to do the great mitzvah of hospitality.
And so it was.
Tzvi Meir Cohn attended Yeshiva Hadar Hatorah in Crown Heights, Brooklyn after completing his university studies in Engineering and Law. While studying at the Yeshiva, he discovered a deep connection to the stories and teachings of the Baal Shem Tov. His many books about the Baal Shem Tov can be found in the Breslev Store. He can be contacted at howard@cohnpatents.com.

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