What’s Good is Eternal

Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim

Reader: In this week’s Jewishtimes article “Pharaoh’s Dreams,” Rabbi Israel Chait says there was absolutely no good in Pharaoh’s dreams, and therefore they could not be of human origin, as all dreams are wish fulfillment. Therefore Rabbi Chait taught that the dreams were divine.  Yes, the abundant years were eventually erased completely, but there still was some temporary good for 7 years. Goodness that is later obliterated is still good while it existed. This is especially true for those who experienced only the 7 good years and not the next 7 bad ones; such as those who died or left Egypt during the first 7 years of plenty. Therefore it could have been a natural dream, and not prophetic.

Rabbi: Genesis 41:30 says, “and all the abundance in the land of Egypt will be forgotten as the land is ravaged by famine.” What is good and then forgotten, thereby erases the good. “Goodness” is defined as that which is eternal. As we say at funerals, “A man, whether he be a year old, or whether he lives a thousand years, what does it profit him? For is it not as if he has never been?”  (Tzidduk Hadin). Meaning, if something comes to an end, this is like it never happened. Torah teaches us that a true “good” must be eternal. One cannot say about a dead wicked person, “he” had some pleasure, since the “he” does not exist. There’s no one to speak about.

Genesis 41:31 says, “No trace of the abundance will be left in the land because of the famine thereafter, for it will be very severe."  This is not a repetition. 41:30 refers to man’s recollection; the good will be “forgotten.” But 41:32 refers to physical reality, “no trace of food in the land.” This second verse tells us “in the land,” the years of plenty will not leave evidence. Evidently, one looks to placate oneself by substantiating the past, by reminiscing the good times.