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Thought Provoking Insights by Rabbi Simon Rosenbach
This week’s Torah portion is the famous story of Pharaoh’s dreams. Pharaoh dreams two dreams. In one, seven, good-looking cows come up out of the Nile, and seven scrawny cows come up out of the Nile after the good-looking cows, and the scrawny cows devour the good-looking cows. In the other, seven good-looking ears of grain sprouted on a single stalk, and seven meager ears of grain sprouted on the same stalk, and the seven meager ears swallowed the good-looking ears.
Pharaoh asks the court magicians and the other wise men to interpret his dreams, but they were unable to do so. The chief cupbearer, however, remembers when he was in jail he had a dreams, and a Hebrew youth correctly interpreted the dream. So Pharaoh summons Joseph and Joseph interprets the dream, correctly as it turns out: seven years of plenty will be followed by seven years of famine.
Joseph tells Pharaoh that in the seven years of plenty, Egypt needs to stockpile food in preparation for the seven years of famine. Pharaoh sees the wisdom of the advice, and places Joseph in charge of the preparations. As a consequence, Egypt weathers the famine.
Contrast Pharaoh’s initiative to the inactivity of the world governments regarding climate change. We have been warned about impending catastrophe for nigh on 40 years. We have been warned about rising sea levels, rising greenhouse gas levels, droughts, stronger hurricanes, more frequent forest fires, and by and large, we have done nothing. Pharaoh put Egypt’s survival and the survival of ordinary Egyptians first. The current dream interpreters have been met with ridicule, denial, claims of hoax, and expungement of words like “climate change” (in Florida, for example). Corporations put shareholders and profits ahead of the national interest, and many politicians deride climate change as a hoax, or as an untested scientific theory.
It is amazing to me. Probably a majority of Americans, including a majority of politicians and corporate executives, know the Joseph story. There is a Biblical story that tells us when we are warned about impending catastrophe, we need to take action. The many politicians and corporate executives who know the story, nevertheless put the fate of mankind behind corporate interests and political interests.
We need to be Josephs, and persuade the Pharaohs of the world that we need to prepare. Only then can we preserve a world worth living in for our children.