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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Broken Dreams

Updated: Nov 24, 2021

In Parshat Vayeishev, we quickly become part of the fabric of the household of Ya'akov and his sons. We meet Yosef, the dreamer and get to know his brothers well.

Yosef's dreams are an important way for us to get to know Yosef, but also to foreshadow what will transpire in the future.

Dreams are strange things. We all dream; it is a gift that is given to all of us as we sleep at night. The poem this week, called Broken Dreams, is a series of vignettes of dreams, that connect to Yosef, but to others as well, for are we not all dreamers?


Once upon a time

Joseph dreamed of corn and stars and planets

bowing to him,

paying homage to a skinny teenager.

These were dreams that

color coordinated with his bright coat

and his father’s favor.


that bestowed color on one

and left others to dream in black and white.

Perhaps these dreams were merely

the Photoshop altered wishes

of a teenager

seeking love and approval;

trying to fit in

or above

a complex generational puzzle.

The problem was that Yosef spoke of his dreams.

Perhaps that is the lesson.

Keep the content of your dreams to yourself.

They are better left locked in your bed,

hidden under your quilt

and closed in your head.

Smile serenely, Joseph,

no one knows the real you.


I know a person who flies in her dreams.

She runs,

gaining speed,

as her hair balloons behind her,

her sneakered feet grow wings.

She jumps

and soars skyward.

It always surprises her as

as the living room

shrinks small below her,

and she is weightless,

ageless, too.

She soars above the green stamp lawns

of the neighborhood.

Her eyes flutter in her head

as she escapes the world

and flies with the angels.


So many dreams of the broken

The hungry dream of shefa, abundance.

The cold dream of hot tea and blankets.

The homeless dream of four walls and a roof.

The marginalized dream of eyes that see them

and not past them.

The unloved dream of acceptance.

And some dream of revenge.

Each dream a color, like the stripes of Joseph's coat.


I dream from a warm bed and soft pillow.

but it is the dreams of the hungry

and the sad,

the hated and defeated,

whose dreams

take wings and escape upward.

Dreams that double as prayers,

that fly above the cornfields,

above the living rooms

and the manicured lawns below.

Above the planets and bowing stars

and break the gates of heaven.

Now Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him an ornamented tunic.aOr “a coat of many colors”; meaning of Heb. uncertain.

And when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of his brothers, they hated him so that they could not speak a friendly word to him.

Once Joseph had a dream which he told to his brothers; and they hated him even more.

He said to them, “Hear this dream which I have dreamed:

There we were binding sheaves in the field, when suddenly my sheaf stood up and remained upright; then your sheaves gathered around and bowed low to my sheaf.”

Genesis 37: 3-7 Translation from Sefaria

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