Vayeishev: The Wine Steward’s Dream – Vines, Grapes And Redemption


    Vayeishev: The Wine Steward’s Dream – Vines, Grapes And Redemption

    From the desk of Rabbi Nissim Lagziel, Mashpia in Oholei Torah: At the end of parshas Vayeishev, the Torah tells us about the dreams of the wine-steward and baker, and Yosef’s interpretations of the dreams which came true. This week, we will focus on the dream of the wine steward and the spiritual meaning and practical lesson we can learn from it in our avodas Hashem in bringing the Geula • Full Article

    By Rabbi Nissim Lagziel


    Every day, a boy would go to the bookstore and ask the owner whether he has grapes. Each time, the owner said no.

    One day, the owner yelled at the child, “If you ask me one more time about grapes, I’m going to nail your hands to the wall!”

    The next day, the boy returned and asked, “Do you have nails?”

    The owner, surprised that the boy hadn’t asked him about grapes, said, “No, I have no nails.”

    The boy then asked, “And grapes?”


    At the end of parshas Vayeishev, the Torah tells us about the dreams of the wine-steward and baker, and Yosef’s interpretations of the dreams which came true. This week, we will focus on the dream of the wine steward and the spiritual meaning and practical lesson we can learn from it in our avodas Hashem in bringing the Geula.

    The wine steward dreams of a flowering vine with three tendrils and with clusters ripening into grapes. He takes the grapes and squeezes them into Pharaoh’s cup. What eternal lesson can we learn from a dream of an Egyptian? Why does the Torah tell us the dream? More specifically, since every detail in Torah is precise, we must say that from every detail in the dream we can learn something. If so, what is significant about 1) the vine, 2) the three tendrils, 3) the grapes?

    In Tehillim, we find nearly an entire chapter which describes the development of the grape and the many difficulties it faces. Dovid HaMelech says (80:9), “You uprooted a vine from Egypt; You drove out nations and planted it.” He describes how G-d moved the “vine” from Egypt, expelled its enemies, planted it firmly in the right place, and even rescued it from the boar of the forest. Does this sound familiar?

    Beis Moshiach

    The vine represents the Jewish people whom G-d took out of Egypt, and the lengthy description in chapter 80 of Tehillim comes to teach us about the ups and downs, exiles and redemptions, that the “vine” has to contend with. In the Gemara (Chulin 92b) and in the Medrash (Bereishis Rabba 88, 5), we find a more detailed comparison between the vine and the Jewish people in the context of an explanation to the wine steward’s dream. According to one interpretation, the vine represents the Jewish people, the three tendrils are the three Avos (or, Kohanim, Leviim, Yisraelim; or Moshe, Aharon and Miriam). According to another interpretation the vine represents Yerushalayim and the three tendrils are the Beis HaMikdash, the king, and the kohen gadol whose common denominator is that the three of them are meant to be based in Yerushalayim.

    The Rebbe’s approach is that all explanations of a verse are intertwined and illuminate one another. How can we combine these explanations? How can a vine simultaneously be the Jewish people and Yerushalayim? And what can we learn about this for our daily lives?


    In an amazing sicha, the Rebbe explains that the main vision in the dream of the wine steward revolves around the future Geula. The dream alludes to the present and teaches about the future. The vine, with its tendrils and twigs, clusters and grapes, conveys a message about bringing the Geula. Actually, the two interpretations are one. All agree that the vine represents the Jewish people. The only difference between the interpretations is that the first interpretation (that the vine is the Jewish people) looks at the Jew externally, while the second interpretation (that the vine is Yerushalayim) looks at a Jew internally. The first interpretation describes the Jewish people in exile while the second interpretation describes us in the Geula.

    How so?

    The Medrash (Bereishis Rabba 26, 10) explains that the name “Yerushalayim” is comprised of two words: Yirah and Shalem. Avrohom called the city “Yirah” and Shem, the son of Noach, called the city “Shalem.” G-d said, if I call it Yirah, Shem, the tzaddik, will be angry. If I call it Shalem, Avrohom, the tzaddik, will be angry. I will call it Yerushalayim to combine both.

    The Chassidishe, spiritual significance of this name is that the city Yerushalayim represents the perfection (Shalem) of yirah, yirah ilaah, the highest level of fear of heaven. Within every Jew there is a Yerushalayim; within every Jew there exists perfect fear of heaven, but today, in exile, we don’t see this. Today, we don’t feel it. Today, when we look at the “vine,” we just see an ordinary Jew. In the Geula, when we will look at a Jew, we will immediately see how he is essentially “Yerushalayim” – complete in Torah, complete in mitzvos, complete in yirah!

    מרכז סתם

    In other words, the vine which the wine steward saw is a symbol to the key to the redemption of the Jewish people. The merit of the Jewish people to be redeemed has to do with the fact that each Jew is in the category of “Yerushalayim,” a perfect Jew, full and overflowing with every good thing, Torah and yirah. The tendrils represent particular qualities that are also hidden within the souls of the Jewish people. These particular qualities are divided, generally speaking, into three categories: Torah, avoda, and gemilus chasadim. All the interpretations that we saw earlier about the three tendrils fit extraordinarily well with these three categories.

    1-Gemilus chasadim comes from the midda of chessed and love in the Jewish soul. It is the midda of Avrohom Avinu, Aharon the Kohen Gadol, and is also the midda of every ‘ordinary’ Kohen.

    2-Avoda is the midda of gevura of the soul. It is the midda with which every king is infused. It is the midda of Yitzchok Avinu, Miriam the Prophetess (Miriam from the root meaning bitter) and that of every Levi (Tanya, chapter 3).

    3-Torah represnts the middle row, tiferes, which incorporates all the qualities. It is the midda of Yaakov Avinu, the select of the Avos. This is the quality of the Beis Ha Mikdash and it is the source of the great strength of every Jew.


    What about the grapes? The Gemara explains that squeezing fresh grapes symbolizes that the time came for Egypt “to drink the cup of stupor.” The squeezing represents the crushing of evil and smashing of the wickedness of the nations of the world. Some explain this in a way that is less than sympathetic toward the non-Jews, a frightening description of suffering that they endure because of what they did to us during exile, but not the Rebbe MH”M…

    The Rebbe explains that just as when making wine, squeezing the grapes is useful, positive and good, because that’s the only way to reveal the mighty potential that is hidden within the grapes, the only way to produce wine from the simple grape, the same is true regarding the nations. “Squeezing the grapes” represents how the Jewish people extract the good from among the nations, how we transform an evil corrupt existence into something useful, positive and good. The squeezing isn’t a punishment; it just represents the extraordinary change that will take place among the nations for the better in the era of the Geula.

    This is also the reason that the squeezing of grapes in the dream happens after the full description of the vine, because in the Geula there are two states and times. The first stage of the Geula is all about prioritizing and bringing out the innate qualities of the Jewish people, and the Torah hints this to us in its detailed description of the vine and tendrils, the clusters and grapes. Afterward, there is the second stage of the Geula, the stage in which the Jewish people changes and transforms the existence of the nations from evil to good. The Torah hints to this in its description of the squeezing of the grapes.

    As for us, we explained earlier that within us, the grape, there are great qualities of yirah, Torah, avoda and gemilus chasadim, but it’s not enough to bask with nachas and to sit idly. We need to use these qualities in a positive way. We learned that the three tendrils represent the three crowns with which each Jew is crowned: the crown of Torah, the crown of kehuna and the crown of malchus, but there is a fourth crown, the crown of a good name. This fourth crown, which surpasses the others, we get just through action! Each of us is given the power to do something in every circumstance. Additions in all aspects of Torah and mitzvos and mainly in Hakhel. We have the power to do the final thing that remains and bring the Geula!


    On the topic of vineyards and grapes, we will end with the famous mashal of the fox and the vineyard which appears in the Medrash (Koheles Rabba 5, 14). The Medrash tells of a fox that found a vineyard full of ripe, juicy grapes. However, it is completely fenced in. The fox circles the vineyard until he finds a small opening which he can’t fit through. The fox fasts for three days until he is lean enough to get into the vineyard. He eats his full and then wants to leave but now it’s too large to fit through the little opening. It fasts for another three days and gets out. That’s when the fox realizes that it didn’t gain anything because just as he entered the vineyard hungry, he also left the vineyard hungry.

    In life, we run about, eager to amass more stuff but if we remember that we are actually the ‘grapevine,’ the source of joy, we won’t invest in chasing after physical possessions that only remain in this world and do not accompany us to the next world and the era of Geula.

    Good Shabbos!


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    Vayeishev: The Wine Steward’s Dream – Vines, Grapes And Redemption