Having arrived safely at Hebron, Jacob assumed the mantle of leadership. Joseph shared his two dreams with the family, one in which his brother’s sheaves bowed down to his, and a second in which the sun and moon and eleven stars bowed down to him. Joseph’s brothers took this brazen display of conceit as evidence that Joseph was in fact the self-centered Esau’s spiritual heir more than Jacob’s. Jacob, however, approved of Joseph’s dreams, since he himself already envisioned Joseph as his successor.
The Need for Spiritual Mentors
וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם שִׁמְעוּ נָא הַחֲלוֹם הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר חָלָמְתִּי: (בראשית לז:ו)
[Joseph] said to [his brothers], “Please listen to this dream I had.” Genesis 37:6

Joseph’s two dreams seem to convey the same idea. The reason for the apparent repetition is that they symbolize two distinct stages in the relationship between each generation and its leaders.

Sheaves of grain are made up of individual stalks, which grow discretely from one another, each in its own groove. Binding them into sheaves symbolizes our first task in life: gathering together all of our capacities and talents and uniting them in the work of holiness. Once we have become a “sheaf,” we need to seek guidance and inspiration from a “Joseph,” a spiritual leader.

As we mature spiritually, we reach a higher level: having risen above earthly consciousness, we regain our soul’s original heavenly consciousness and shine like a “star.” Yet even on this level, we should not rely on our own achievements for inspiration, for this can lead to stagnation and complacency. Rather, we must still continue to turn to our “Joseph” – i.e., our spiritual mentor – for further insight and inspiration.1