Once again there are some fascinating connections between the weekly Torah reading and birds. Just last week, we read of Joseph, the son of Jacob who was perhaps best remembered for his dream interpretations (and his “Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat”!). Joseph interprets the dreams of both his fellow inmates in Pharoah’s prison, the wine steward and the baker. The wine steward’s dream has a positive outcome, but alas, the poor baker’s does not. The wine steward dreamt the following: “In my dream there was a vine before me. And on the vine there were three branches. It seemed to be budding, then it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand. I took the grapes and squeezed their juice into Pharaoh’s cup; then I placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.” (Chabad.org)
The baker describes his dream this way: “Behold I had three baskets of white bread on my head. And in the uppermost basket there was all manner of food for Pharaoh, the work of a baker; and the birds did eat them out of the basket on top of my head.”(Chabad.org)
Joseph, the master of dreams, tells the wine steward that, in three days, he will be released and return to his post to serve the pharaoh once again. But the poor baker is told: “Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up your head from you and shall hang you on a tree, and the birds shall eat your flesh from you.” (To see more about the baker’s dream, including the wonderful painting below, click on this specific link on Chabad.org)
What could this possibly mean!? There are countless in-depth commentaries on the significance of this story. One rather straightforward idea is that the wine steward was rewarded for his action whereas the baker was not so fortunate, due to his inaction (note the differences in the descriptions of each dream).
Whether we accept this reading of the story or not, one underlying message for us today may simply be to remember the importance of doing for others, of being active participants in making the world a better place. For me, it’s also yet another example of the countless ways birds play a role in Judaism and in the stories of the Torah.Surely the hungry birds in the baker’s dream were more aggressive than the sweet little perching birds I’ve included here to illustrate this post. In fact, it’s very possible that they were Ravens or Grackles, like this intense individual above, ready for take-off.