In parshat Vayeishev, Joseph has two dreams, which he relates with his brothers (progenitors of 11 of the 12 tribes). In the first dream, Joseph recalls that "We were binding sheaves in the midst of the field, when my sheaf stood up and remained upright, then your sheaves formed a circle around my sheaf and prostrated themselves before it."1 In the second dream, "the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were prostrating themselves before me.2

The dreams seem to convey the same message. Why does the Torah tell us both of them? One major difference is that the second dream has the addition of the sun and the moon, representing Jacob and Bilhah (one of Jacob’s wives). Not only would the 11 brothers bow to Joseph, but Jacob and Bilhah would do so as well. But for this point alone, there was no need for a second dream. It could have been included in one dream.

In parshat Miketz, Pharoah also has two dreams. In th first dream, cows came out of the river,3 and in the second, there were ears of grain growing from a stalk.4 They seem to be strikingly similar, just like in Joseph’s dreams. However, when Joseph interprets the dreams of Pharaoh, he explains why the dream is repeated, because "G‑d is hurrying to carry it out."5 Regarding, Joseph’s own dreams, however, there is no such explanation.

We must conclude that there is something new in the second dream. What are the lessons found in these dreams?

Joseph's dreams teach us how to serve G‑d.

The first lessons are found in the differences between Joseph's and Pharaoh's dreams.

Pharoah first dreams about cows and then about grain. In Torah, all physical existence is divided into four categories: The lowest is domem, inanimate objects, like rocks and sand. Above that is tzomeach, the vegetative domain, which are things that grow, like trees, grass, vegetables and grain. Above that is chai, living things, like animals. And the highest is medaber, people who have conversation.

Both of Pharaoh's dreams happen on earth. The first was about animals. The second went down a notch, talking about vegetation. It is the way of the impure to go down, lower and lower.

Joseph's first dream was on earth, and his second dream was up in the celestial sphere. They are reminiscent of Jacob's dream, where "the ladder was on the ground and its top reached the heavens."6 This is because a Jew must always seek to go higher.

The two dreams convey the same idea, but one is on earth, symbolizing the physical, and the other in the celestial sphere, symbolizing the spiritual. This is a lesson for us. We should make the physical and spiritual the same. How do we do this? By filling our physical lives with spirituality.

In Pharaoh's dreams, he is not doing anything. In Joseph's first dream, he and his brothers were working in the field, because holiness can only be attained through work and effort. There is no free lunch. Only after the work, do they reach the higher levels in his second dream.

Now that we understand the general aspects of the dreams, let's take a look at some of the details.

In Joseph's first dream, they are on earth, in the field, symbolizing chaos and fragmentation, symbolized by Esau, who was a “man of the field.7” Every stalk in the field is separate, coming out of its own personal spot of earth.

Our job is to make bundles out of the separate stalks, to make unity of the fragmentation. The G‑dly soul comes down into the animal soul. The nature of the animal soul is to following any base pleasure that suits them at the moment, resulting in chaos and fragmentation. Our job is to unite them to follow G‑d’s will.

The next thing that happens is that the brothers, Jacob and Bilhah bow to Joseph. Joseph is the tzadik, righteous man, of the generation. Bowing to Joseph symbolizes their taking direction from him and to following his lead.

The problem is that after all this work, we still find ourselves in the field, in the physical. We need to attain a spiritual state. Not to go out of the physical, but to make our physical spiritual. That is the meaning of the second dream, up in the celestial sphere, when we reach a high spiritual state.

One might think, "I have reached such a high spiritual state, do I still need to follow the tzadik?" The answer is that "the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were prostrating themselves" before Joseph. Even the person who has attained the highest levels of spirituality has to follow the direction of the tzadik.

This work of uniting the fragments and a making the physical into spiritual is not as difficult as you might think. For starters, each of us are called "children of Kings,"8 and sometimes we are called "kings."9 Royalty is not required to do work, even the smallest amount of effort is considered tremendous. Even more, the Talmud tells us "if you will toil you will find."10 It doesn't say that "you will succeed," rather "you will find." When you say "you will find," it means that you get something unexpected, because when we put in the effort, G‑d gives us much more than the effort we put in. Our little effort goes a long way.

We can all do this with a little bit of effort, and if we do so, we will be well on the way to bringing Moshiach. May he come soon.11