“Please share your dreams with me,” said Yosef. “Certainly HaShem will help me find some way to tell you what they really mean.”
“All right. I’ll start,” said the butler. “In my dream I saw a grapevine with 3 branches. I noticed clusters of small grapes ripen into large grapes. I took the grapes, squeezed them and poured the juice into Paraoh’s royal cup. I then placed the cup in the king’s hand. Tell me, Yosef. What does this mean?”
“Well, this is the interpretation,” Yosef replied to the butler. “3 grapevines…3 days…lots of sweet, ripe grapes. This means that in 3 days you’ll be given your old job back at the palace, and once again you will be the Chief Butler – pouring wine for Paraoh into his royal cup!”
“AMAZING NEWS! SPLENDIFOROUS!” the butler exclaimed, hoping that it would indeed come true.
“Please do me a favor,” Yosef continued. “When you get out of prison and begin working in the palace, please, I beg of you, do not forget me. Tell Paraoh that I’m here unjustly; I did nothing wrong. Perhaps, you will be the one to help me get out of prison.”
Now it was the baker’s turn:
“In my dream,” said the baker, “I was carrying 3 bread baskets on my head. I was going to give Paraoh bread from the top basket, but some birds flew down and started to eat the bread from the top basket. What is this all about?”
“Well, I’m afraid your dream does not sound good at all,” said Yosef. “3 baskets… 3 days. In 3 days, Paraoh will hang you and the birds will eat your flesh!”
Exactly 3 days later, Paraoh threw a grand party in honor of his birthday. He ordered the prison guard to bring him the butler and the baker. Just as Yosef had predicted, the baker was hanged, while the butler was granted his old job once again, happily serving Paraoh wine at the party.
Wow! For the butler Yosef interpreted his dream to mean LIFE, but for the baker it was… DEATH. What’s that all about?
A great Rabbi explained this with a parable, called a Mashal in Hebrew.
Here it is:
Once there was a famous artist, let’s call him Berel Von Shmerel, who drew a portrait of a man with a basket of fruit on his head. The painting was placed outdoors and the fruit looked so real that even the birds were fooled and tried to eat the “fruit”!
“We have never seen such a lifelike painting!”
“Berel Von Shmerel deserves to be entered in the Artist’s Hall of Fame!” the onlookers exclaimed.
However one art expert was not very impressed. “The painting has one major fault,” he announced. “The man in the painting is obviously not lifelike, for if the man would have looked as real as the fruit, the birds would be too scared to eat from his basket.”
Same here. When the baker told Yosef that the birds would be eating the bread off his head, Yosef understood that the baker would no longer be alive, since birds are normally scared to eat off the head of a living person.
As opposed to the baker, the butler’s dream was a clear vision of something that was about to happen… in another 3 days he will be pouring wine in Paraoh’s cup. And that is exactly what happened. So the baker’s dream was a dream of death… Ugghhhh. And the butler’s dream was a dream of life… L’Chaim!
Did you know that the only birthday celebration in the Torah is this one, at Paraoh’s birthday celebration?
Well actually, back in Parshas Vayeira, we read about Avraham making a party on the day Yitzchak was weaned, and Rashi explains that it was Yitzchak’s second birthday, but the word “birthday” (Yom Huledes) is only found here.