Why Were the Baker and the Wine Bearer So Troubled by a Dream?

Dear Rabanit Cohen,
Why does it say in Parshat Vayeishev that when Joseph saw the baker and the wine bearer they looked troubled? Why would they be troubled? It was just a dream. They would have had them a lot. What was different about this one?

Maziee Brown, St.Cloud, Wl


Dear Maziee,
What an excellent question you ask. I hope the answer will be satisfactory. I have also reached out to Rabbi Pinchas Friedman, (shlit”a) who has as well confirmed that the response below is what the sages discuss. There are many answers, but I will address the simplest.

There is a Maamar Chazal, a saying of the sages in the Gemera of Megilah (Daf 3: Amud:1) that states the following: “האי מאן דמבעית, אף על גב דאיהו לא חזי מזליה חזי”

The translation is as follows: “If someone is frightened by something, there must be a reason for that fear. Because although the person himself does not see anything, his designated angel above feels it.” And by extension, the person feels it as well.

Therefore, because the dream felt so real to both the Baker and the Wine Bearer they realized that it was not just a dream but something much more meaningful that bears a certain message with it. This is what frightened them.

In addition, these last few parshiyot focus a lot on dreams and their significance. We have Yosef’s dreams that he shared with his father and brothers. We see there is great significance in Paroh’s dreams, which were ultimately the catalyst by which Yosef was taken out of prison and promoted to the highest position in Egypt. We also have the dreams of the Baker and the Wine Bearer.

Before these parshiyot, we are also introduced to Yaakov Avinu’s dream as he slept in the wilderness. The Torah is placing emphasis on dreams to let us know that there are certain dreams during certain moments in a person’s life that carry with it important messages from the heavens.

In those days, even the gentiles realized that dreams were Divine messages. Therefore, when the Baker and Wine Bearer dreamt what they did, they felt the fear of the unknown as they did not know how to interpret their dreams. For this reason, they were troubled.