As Chanukah begins, we find ourselves between the parsha of VaYeshev and the parsha of Mekeitz. Both are Parshiot of Yosef, and both are parshiot of dreams. Not only are dreams mentioned but they are the catalyst for everything that happens. Yosef is sold by his brothers because of his dreams, Yosef is released from the Egyptian prison due to dreams, and in our Parasha Yosef rises to greatness as the one who finally, successfully, interprets Pharaoh’s dreams. Yosef is called בעל החלומות. Yosef is a dreamer, and he knows the importance of dreams. As viceroy of Egypt, he still remembered his dreams from many years before and he does what he does to ensure they will be fulfilled.
Many think that capable and realistic people don’t bother with dreams that one cannot be serious and be a dreamer. That was the claim of the Butler. While seeming to recommend Yosef to Pharoah he says:
” ושם אתנו נער עברי עבד לשר הטבחים ונספר לו ופתר לנו את חלומתינו…”
“And there with us was a youth, a Hebrew, the slave of the Prince of the Cooks, we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams.”
Rashi comments on the wording נער, עברי, עבד – a youth a Hebrew, a slave.
“ארורים הרשעים שאין טובתם שלימה שמזכירו בלשון ביזיון– נער- שוטה ואין ראוי לגדולה”
“The wicked are cursed for even when they do good, they do not do it wholeheartedly, for he mentioned him in a belittling way”
The Butler describes Yosef as a youth – a נער – which shows his unfavorable intentions. To describe Yosef as a youth is unnecessary information altogether, but also inaccurate. Yosef was already thirty years old. Therefore, says the midrash, the butler was not describing Yosef’s age but rather his character. To the Butler, Yosef was foolish. A שוטה lacking discretion and good sense. Not worthy of wielding authority. – ולא ראוי לגדולה- .
If that was the case though, what was the purpose of mentioning him at all to Pharoah? Pharoah was looking for someone to interpret his dreams, the Butler was saying; Yosef knows how to interpret dreams. He is an expert at dreams, he himself is a dreamer and he can surely help you with your dreams. BUT be careful, don’t be overly taken with Yosef. Don’t give Yosef commission to rule. He belongs to the dreamers, and they are not practical, sensible, or realistic.
However, Rav Kook in Orot HaKodesh says:
“החלומות הגדולים יסוד העולם הם.” “Great dreams are the foundation of the world.”
Important things begin with a vision. A vision comes to us from beyond the present. It brings a message about what the present reality could be.
“אם יהיה נביאכם ה’ במראה אתודה אליו, בחלום אדבר בו“
“If he were one of your prophets, I, Gd, would manifest Myself to him in a vision, in a dream I would speak to him.”
A dream doesn’t come to detach us from reality, instead it can inspire us with clarity and motivation. Yosef does know how to work in this world and, with the insight from Pharoah’s dream he brilliantly takes responsibility for Egypt and the ancient world, by reorganizing their economy and infrastructure.
Rav Shteinsaltz in Or Pnei HaMelech writes:
“A person must direct themselves to the path that ascends to Beit El, to The House of Gd, and go forward. Most people settle and aspire only to be average. In the end, as we often see, from such aspirations come people who are less than average. A person must aspire to be an Angel, nothing less. That does not mean that they will be an angel, but at least they will be something a bit closer, something that likens that level. A person must want to ascend, always higher, and dream big dreams… If in the end, he didn’t actualize his dream, HaKadosh Baruch Hu will surely consider it as if the action came with the intentions. However, if a person’s dreams revolve only around this world, that person will never transcend beyond their present state. The point is that one must want to reach for the stars.”
Parshat Mekeitz is almost always read on the Shabbat of Chanukah. We can wonder how the Maccabim had the courage to rebel against a huge empire that crushed the resistance in every country it invaded? They were driven by the dreams of the prophets and the of the Torah. Interestingly, the letters of the word – dream חלום are the same as the letters of the word לוחם – to battle. It was the dream that gave the strength to fight and persevere.
We are a dreaming people. Yaakov Avinu began the journey with the dream of a ladder. Throughout the Galut, in the most difficult of times, the Jewish people kept the dream of the prophets alive. Today we are privileged to be living the dream. “שיר המעלות בשוב השם את שיבת ציון היינו כחולמים” — A song of ascents. When the LORD restores the fortunes of Zion “we are veritable dreamers.”- we see it as in a dream.
 The root חלם appears 38 times in these parshiot
 בראשית לט:יח
 רמבן בראשית מב:ט
בראשית מא: יב
 רש”י שם
 בראשית רבה פט, ז
אורות הקודש נג עמ’ רכו
 This idea is illustrated in the vowel חולםwhich has the same letters as. חלום. It is the only vowel to appear above the letters.
 במדבר יב:ו
 אור פני המלך עמ’ 13
 בראשית כח:יב