Holding Onto Our Dreams
This week the Torah takes us into the world of dreams. We see Joseph's childhood dreams coming to fruition after many years. We learn of Pharaoh's prophetic dreams, and how Joseph's skilled interpretations of them averted a worldwide famine.
There are many types of dreams. We all have dreams and sincere yearnings of how we would like to see our lives in the future. Others may try to tell us to forget about them, and settle for something less. But God knows and understands our deepest yearnings, and leads us in the direction that we truly want to go. So if we trust in God, and hold on to our dreams, many times He will make them come true!
In our story, a boy dares to hold on to his dream.
"If it's furry, four-legged, flies, or has fins, it's a friend of Mike Walder's", his pals would joke. And it was true - the boy just seemed to have a natural, and deep love for animals.
Mike would spend whatever spare time he had, taking in stray baby birds, squirrels, or any other creature in need. His greatest dream, ever since he could remember, was to one day be able to spend all day doing what he loved - helping animals. He would share his dream with anyone who would listen. Many of his friends really encouraged him about his dream, but others were less enthusiastic, and some guys would even make fun of him.
One day, Mike and his best friend, Randy were walking home from school, when he heard his name being called. He turned around.
"Hey Walder!" called out Tim, a kid from the neighborhood to whom he had recently told of his dream. "Here's your big chance! There's a sick ant over here on the sidewalk. Come on over here and give him C.P.R. before it's too late!"
He let out a loud laugh, as if it was the funniest joke in the world. But to Mike it really hurt.
The boys kept walking. "What a mean thing to say!" said Randy indignantly.
Mike sighed. "But maybe he's right," he said to Randy. "Maybe I do go too overboard about animals, and my desire to spend my life taking care of them is just a foolish dream."
Randy shook his head. "No way, Mike." he said, "Don't pay any attention to guys like that. They've probably just given up on their own dreams, and want to kill other people's dreams too. If your dream is worthwhile, and it's important to you, God's gonna make it happen some day. Just don't give it up, buddy, and you'll see."
Mike smiled and appreciated his friend's encouraging words. Then and there, he told himself, that he would hold onto his dream until it came true, no matter what.
A number of years passed, and the boys got older and busier. Mike tried to stay focused on his dream even though sometimes he felt tempted just to let it fade away. Now as the school year was almost over, Mike and his friends, who would be starting high school next year, were all trying to make plans for summer vacation. Mike was hoping to line up an interesting summer job that would give him some extra pocket money. He had applied several weeks ago to a local nature park for a job as a guide, and was waiting to hear back.
One afternoon, he decided to go visit his old friend, Randy, who had moved across town, and he hadn't seen for a long time. As the boys reminisced, Randy said with a sincere smile, "I hope you're still holding on to your special dream of helping animals."
Mike smiled back and nodded pensively. He hadn't thought about it for a while, but Randy's comment brought back old memories, and made him realize just how much his dream still meant to him. Mike recalled his friend's inspiring words from long ago, "...If it's worthwhile, and important to you, God's gonna make it happen" But when? thought Mike, But how?
At that very moment, his cell-phone rang, and brought him out of his reverie. It was the park authority. Mike held his breath, hoping he got the job. "We can see from your application that you really appreciate nature, and would be great for the job,"said the voice on the other end of the line. Mike perked up. "But," the voice went on, "we're really sorry - all the guide jobs are filled."
The boy felt really disappointed, but as a last attempt, blurted out, "Are you sure? Isn't there any kind of a job?"
The man on the phone was silent for a moment. "Well, there is one job that just became available, but I don't know if you'll want it." Mike listened, and silently prayed. "It happens to be that we're opening up a new petting zoo at the park, and the head veterinarian needs an assistant to help him take care of the animals. It doesn't pay that much, and you will be busy all day with the animals... You interested?"
The boy nearly dropped the phone, but not before he blurted out a hearty "Yes!"
As he hung up, his friend looked at him and said, "What's up, Mike? You look like you're walking on a cloud."
Mike just shook his head in amazement. He was so grateful that he had never given up dreaming. He turned to his friend, smiling ear-to-ear, and said, "Well Randy, what can I tell you? How else should someone look who just heard his dream come true?"
Q. How did Mike feel after Tim teased him about his dream of taking care of animals?
A. The boy's scoffing made him feel deflated, and he wanted to abandon his dream.
Q. How did he feel after he got offered the job?
A. He felt great, and was glad that he never gave up on his dream.
Q. What's one of your dreams?
Q. Why do you think that holding on to our dreams helps them to come true?
A. When we maintain a commitment to our goal, or dream, we are in a sense asking God to make it happen, and showing Him how important it is to us. God listens to our sincere prayers, and sees how badly we're trying to fulfill our dreams. Out of His love for us, many times He sets up circumstances that will help us to make our dream a reality.
Q. Is every dream worthwhile? How can we know whether our dream is worth hanging on to?
A. It's great to dream. Just to have that feeling of wanting to reach beyond our present selves is valuable. However some dreams are more worthwhile than others. Dreams that will lead us to become better people and enable us to give something of value to the world are especially worthwhile and we should make an extra effort to try to see them through.
Q. What's one of your dreams?
Ages 10 and Up
Q. What do our sages mean when they say that "God leads a person in a direction he wants to go"?
A. God has given each of us free choice, and allowed us to build ourselves into the type of people we will become on the basis of these choices. He doesn't push us in one way or another, but rather facilitates us to reach where we want to go, and allows us to experience the natural consequences of that decision. For this reason, our dreams and goals, if sincere and persistent, are likely to be realized. We can maximize this opportunity by trying to set for ourselves the most positive and spiritual dreams possible.
Q. Why do you think some people scoff at the dreams of others?
A. Much of it comes from misunderstanding. Since each of us is unique, with a special spiritual mission to accomplish in this lifetime, it only follows that one person's soul will inspire him to have a different dream, or life goal, than that of another. No one except ourselves will ever be able to fully understand why we dream as we do. Nor will we ever fully understand the dreams of another. The challenge is to try to respect the dreams of others, while remaining true to our own, unique calling.
Q. What's one of your dreams?