Since yesterday was the Shabbat of Hannukah, that made it the 10th anniversary of my Bat Mitzvah (obviously in the Hebrew calendar. My Bat Mitzvah was on December 20th, 2003). When I realized this, I couldn’t help but feel old. It’s been an entire decade since I was 13, when I was first told that I was an “adult.”
Now that I am technically an actual adult, I know that 13-year-old me was far from that level of maturity. Heck, even right now I generally feel anything but adult, despite having a college degree and living on my own and having a job. Plus paying bills and having to feed and clothe myself.
Wow. I guess I am an adult. That’s more than a little terrifying. And it only took ten years!
Anyway, I thought that my Torah portion from that fateful Hannukah Shabbat is fitting for this stage of my life. Sort of well-done cosmic timing. It is the story of Joseph, specifically his earlier life when he starts to interpret dreams and is sold into slavery by his siblings. You know, the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.
I chose that portion because of the story. I had been Joseph-obsessed as a kid and felt the strongest connection to that section of the Bible. I’m still not entirely sure what it was that drew me to that story. Maybe it was the entertaining family drama, or Joseph’s rise from slave to prince. But it is the bit about dreams that I feel the most connected to today.
In the Bible, Joseph has the ability to interpret dreams. Once in Egypt, he uses this gift to get himself out of prison and to save the Egyptian people from a famine, resulting in his becoming the Pharaoh’s right hand man (and leading the Jewish people to Egypt, where they would eventually be enslaved and then Passover happens, but in Joseph’s lifetime things were all good). But as a kid, Joseph’s dream-focus was just another annoyance to his brothers, something else they could hate him for. Besides being the favorite of 12 sons (and a daughter), he was one of those obnoxious kids who spends their time dreaming of all the great things they’ll somehow impossibly accomplish.
Now that I can relate to.
Joseph saw 11 stars bowing to his star. He saw 11 sheaves of corn bowing to his. My dreams have always been a lot less narcissistic. And thankfully mine have gotten a lot more familial support. But it’s tough, to have an idea of what you want your life to be or where you think it’s going, and to struggle on your way there. Joseph was sold by his own brothers into slavery and then thrown into jail when his boss’ wife hit on him. Those are some pretty major obstacles. But they were the challenges he needed to face because they were on his path to his destiny, and that bright shiny future where his brothers did bow to him and his dreams came true.
Thankfully no one sold me anywhere and I am not in jail. I made it to the city I had dreamed about as a kid. But I am still working toward my ultimate dreams and goals. And things can be hard. Really, really hard. But I just need to remind myself, especially in times like these when the Universe is obviously sending me a well-timed anniversary message, that every obstacle is just another stop on my path.
I think I’ll skip the rainbow colored coat, though.