The Torah portion of Vayeishev relates Yosef’s two dreams, the first about binding sheaves and the second about the sun, moon and stars. Both dreams indicated that Yosef would rule over his brothers and that they would bow to him. A minor addition in the second dream indicated that Yaakov and Bilha would also bow to him.

Since both dreams addressed the same theme, why was it necessary for the repetition; if it was merely for the additional details provided in the second dream, those particulars could have been made part of the first.

Evidently, although both dreams conveyed essentially the same message, they allude to two different aspects. Moreover, as part of the Torah they must convey a message to us as well. How do these dreams apply to our daily spiritual service?

Yosef’s first dream dealt with earthly matters, binding sheaves in the field, and the second dream with heavenly matters — the sun, moon and stars. This indicates that one is to increase and expand in matters of holiness, advancing from “earthly sheaves” to “celestial bodies.”

This means that a Jew, though bound up with this world, must be simultaneously connected with the loftier heavenly realms.

Thus the Previous Rebbe’s response to being threatened at gunpoint by the Russian secret police: “Those who have many deities and but one world are terrified by a gun. However, he who has but one G‑d and two worlds has nothing to fear.”

This dual attachment finds expression in the fact that Jews first apply their spirit to this physical world, and thereafter rise to the greatest heights, where spiritual service involves the “sun, moon and stars.”

Since the general content of Yosef’s two dreams was the same, notwithstanding the fact that one dealt with earthly objects and the other with heavenly bodies, it follows that the lesson we derive is that a Jew is to combine both worlds and make them one.

Thus, not only should a person’s physical life not impede his spirituality, it should assist him in his spiritual service, so much so that ultimately the physical itself is transformed into the spiritual.1

The lessons derived from the details in each of the dreams are as follows:

Yosef’s first dream begins with2 “We were binding sheaves in the field” — Yosef was working with his brothers in the field. Unlike Pharaoh’s dreams, where absolutely no labor was involved, Yosef’s dream begins with work. For such is the order of spiritual advancement — every achievement requires labor; there is no “free lunch.” The person begins small, with “sheaves,” and works up to the “sun, moon and stars.”

Specifically, gathering sheaves involves picking up individual stalks and binding them into one bundle. This alludes to gathering up the disparate parts of the physical world and uniting them in G‑dliness.3

This labor takes place “in the field,” i.e., within the physical world, which is likened to an open field.4 It is to this field that the soul descends and clothes itself within the body and animal soul to perform its labor of annulling the division and disunion characteristic of corporeality. It does this by gathering and uniting all the entities in the world as well as all the person’s individual powers, so that they become one with G‑d.

However, even after achieving this level of service, a person is still bound up with the physical; he is still “in the field.” The intent is that even while involving oneself in elevating the body and the world, the soul comes to enjoy the degree of union with G‑d that it enjoyed prior to its descent.

This is the import of the second dream, which related only to heavenly matters. It describes a person who has already reached a loftier stage of service, wherein he has transcended the limitations of the “field,” and is now occupying himself solely with matters of the spirit.

Based on Likkutei Sichos , Vol. III, pp. 805-809.