Parshas Vayeshiv – What do you live for?

This week in the Torah:

Joseph tells of two dreams he’s had – both indicating the same message; that his family will bow to him.


Why did one dream not suffice?

Next week in the Torah:

Pharaoh tells of two dreams he’s had – both indicating the same message; a warning of impending famine in Egypt and the entire region. In this case, however, the Torah tells of the significance of the repetition; that it indicates the imminence of their realization. Which makes the above question stronger; what is the significance of the repetition of the theme in Joseph’s dreams?


Joseph dreamed of stalks of grain; earthly objects, and of the sun, moon and stars; heavenly objects. This is the experience of a Jew; living physically and spiritually, concurrently. Furthermore, just as the first and second dream carried the same message, so too, Jewish physicality and spirituality are to be unified. This comes naturally to every Jew.

Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch demonstrated this to his sons:

The Rebbe called over Bentzion, his attendant, and asked him if he had eaten that day; to which Bentzion responded, “Yes.” “Did you eat well?” asked Rabbi Shmuel. Bentzion responded, “What is meant by ‘Well’? I am satisfied, thank G-d.” “And why do you eat?” continued Rabbi Shmuel. “To live,” was the simple reply. “And for what reason do you live?” “In order to be a good Jew and do what G-d wants of me,” answered Bentzion, with a sigh. “You see!” said Rabbi Shmuel, afterward, to his children. “The physicality of a simple Jew is strongly tied to the G-dly, so that he even eats for a G-dly purpose. And he yet sighs because he still does not feel that he is pious enough.”

The Baal Shem Tov says:

“Wherever a person’s desire lies, that is where he himself is.”


Since a Jew’s desire for the physical is accompanied by a sense of the spiritual, the Jew’s physicality becomes spiritual.

(Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. 3, Vayeishev)

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