In his first dream, Pharaoh saw seven robust cows emerge from the Nile River, followed by seven lean cows that devoured the seven robust ones. In his second dream, he saw seven healthy ears of grain devoured by seven scrawny ones.
The Price of a Free Lunch
וַיִּיקַץ פַּרְעֹה וְהִנֵּה חֲלוֹם: (בראשית מא:ז)
Pharaoh awoke, and perceived that [what he had seen] was a dream. Genesis 41:7

The content of Pharaoh’s dreams differed profoundly from that of Joseph’s. Pharaoh dreamed of animals and produce but not of work. Joseph’s dreams, in contrast, began with the image of work – the brothers gathering sheaves in the field.

This reflects the difference between how G‑d provides sustenance for holy and unholy people. G‑d sustains holy people directly, in deserved reward for their earnest work in aligning themselves with His will. In contrast, unholy people balk at the idea of self-discipline and work; G‑d therefore only sustains them because He has to in order for them to continue to exist. Moreover, sustenance received without effort is flawed goodness, since human nature is such that we do not truly appreciate something gained without effort.

Similarly, when we are tempted to think that we can get by without hard work, we must realize that such notions stem from our unholy side. Likewise, anything we receive “for free” is either flawed or will not endure.1