When the chief baker saw how favorably he had interpreted, he said to Joseph, “In my dream, similarly, there were three openwork baskets on my head.” – Genesis 40:16

Joseph, who is enslaved in Egypt, is imprisoned after being falsely accused by his master’s wife. Sometime later, the king’s chief cupbearer and chief baker are also taken into custody and confined in the same prison. Each has a dream which Joseph correctly interprets. As foretold in his dream, the chief cupbearer is restored to his post overseeing the mixing and serving of wine to Pharaoh. Likewise, Pharaoh orders the chief baker to be executed.

In the time since the Torah was first recorded, the meanings of some of its words have become obscure. The chief baker describes the three baskets as chori. This detail is of particular interest to bakers. It also attracted the attention of early and medieval commentators. The reading of chori as “openwork” is based on Rashi who took it as a descriptor of woven willow baskets. Many others think it refers to the baskets’ contents. Ibn Ezra, citing Saadia Goan, interprets it as filled white bread suitable royal consumption. Ramban agrees, noting that the Jerusalem Talmud derives the meaning of a mishnah permitting the baking of labor intensive fine white breads on festival days from this verse (Beitzah 2:6).

Whether baked goods carried a beautiful basket or bread lovingly worked from the finest ingredients, may our bakers’ dreams always portend well-being.

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