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Natural Wisdom

Mikeitz (Genesis 41:1-44:17 )

by Rabbi Shraga Simmons

Parshat Mikeitz tells of Pharaoh's dreams of the 7 cows, and the 7 sheaves of grain. Pharaoh's advisors try to interpret the dreams - suggesting that perhaps 7 daughters will die, or 7 kingdoms will rebel.

Pharaoh rejects these interpretations as incorrect. But how does he know? The answer is that Pharaoh had actually dreamed the interpretations, but then forgot them. The verse implies this by saying that no one was able to "interpret for Pharaoh."

This teaches us a profound lesson in life: You can't convince anyone of anything - you can only try to get him in touch with a truth he already knows. Buried within the farthest corner of our memory, lies an inborn conscience, a natural wisdom that God programmed into every human being. That helps explain how we recognize evil when we see it, and why a person's gut reaction so often proves true.

But intuition is not enough. It is the task of parents and teachers to bring that God-given knowledge forward into the conscious mind.

This concept appears again later in the parsha. Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers - only after they realize their mistake of having sold Joseph 22 years earlier. Joseph understood a key principle of education: Personal realization is 100 times greater than being told.

So in looking for solutions in life, beware of those who try to impose their position on you, and find instead a mentor who will help you ... discover you.

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