How many dreams did Yosef actually have?
(37,5) “And Yosef dreamed a dream and told his brothers, and they hated him even more. And he said to them: Listen to this dream which I have dreamed.”
Why does the Torah repeat itself, saying first that Yosef had a dream and told his brothers, and then repeating that he told them to listen to the dream that he had dreamed. Because if the first posuk is referring to a different dream than the one about the sheaves, why does the Torah not describe the details of this dream also. And if it is the same dream, then the Torah seems to be needlessly repeating itself, and it should have been sufficient to say "and Yosef dreamed a dream, and he said to his brothers: Listen to this dream…". In addition, the repetitious expression that Yosef used, “Listen to this dream which I have dreamed” is problematic, since he could have simply said "Listen to what I dreamed".
We also need to understand the later posukim, “and he dreamed further another dream, and he related it to his brothers, and he said: Behold, I have dreamed another dream, and behold the sun…”. Here too, there seems to be a needless repetition in the phrase “he dreamed again another dream” - either "he dreamed again a dream", or "he dreamed another dream" should have sufficed. Also, when he said to his brothers “Behold, I have dreamed another dream”, the word "another" is superfluous, and he did not say "another dream" when he related the dream about the sheaves, even though he apparently had already told them about a different dream prior to this, as we mentioned above.
A further problem we wish to understand is the posuk “and his father rebuked him, and he said to him: What is this dream that you have dreamed (another repetitious expression). Will we surely come - myself, your mother, and your brothers - to bow down to you?”. Rashi explained that he was saying to them: Is not your mother already dead! But he did not know that the matter referred to Bilhah, who had raised him like his mother. Our Rabbis learned from here that there is no dream without thngs which are meaningless. Ya’akov, however, intended by his words to make his sons forget the matter, so that they would not envy him. Therefore, he said to him: Will we surely come? Just as it is impossible for your mother to come, so too all the rest of the dream is meaningless.
This whole piece is very astonishing. First of all, since Rashi initially explained that Ya’akov did not know that the matter referred to Bilhah, this must mean that the reason that Rashi did not explain that Ya’akov was intending with his words to stop his sons from envying Yosef, was because presumably if Ya’akov knew that there is no dream without things which are meaningless, then his sons also knew, since he had certainly taught them all the wisdoms. Therefore, Rashi had to explain that even Ya’akov did not know this. If so, why afterwards, when he was quoting what our Rabbis said, did he say explicitly that Ya’akov was intending a subterfuge.
Also, Rashi’s words that “our Rabbis learned from here” is problematic, because the word "learned" is relevant only to something which is derived. But that is not the case here, because we see here explicitly that he dreamed about his mother who had already died, so it is something that we know from here, and not something which needs to be derived. Furthermore, since we do indeed hold that there is no dream without things which are meaningless, why did we need to interpret this dream that the matter referred to Bilhah? And on the contrary, this creates a big problem, because if the matter indeed referred to Bilhah, then there was nothing meaningless in that dream, and this contradicts the clear rule that every dream must have something meaningless in it! Finally, Rashi should have said,according to the Rabbis, that the brothers did not know that there is no dream without something meaningless, because if they did know, then Ya’akov’s subterfuge would have been pointless.
It seems to me that we can resolve all these questions, including the apparent contradiction between the two explanations of Rashi, by first prefacing that which the Gaon Kenesses Yechezkel wrote in his sefer Mayim Yechezkel on parshas Mikeitz, on the posuk 41:32 “and about the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh twice, that is because the matter is ready from G-d, and G-d is hastening to do it”. He brings from the Zohar that there are two types of dreams - one that comes through the angel Michoel, and one that comes through the angel Gavriel, and both types are dreams which will come to fruition.
However, each type has an advantage and a disadvantage. One type has the advantage that all its words will be fulfilled because it contains nothing meaningless, but it is talking about a distant time and will not come to pass soon, and sometimes it will even be telling about the far future, concerning his offspring. The second type is the opposite, and contains things which are meaningless, which will not be fulfilled, (and perhaps about such a dream Chazal said that there is no dream without something meaningless), but that part which is to be fulfilled will come to pass soon.
What emerges from this, is that if Hashem wants to show someone a dream, and wants him to know that it will be fulfilled completely and soon, then He sends him the dream twice - once through Michoel and once through Gavriel, and then it will have both advantages.
For this reason the dreams of Pharaoh, that of the cows and the ears of wheat, were in the same style exactly, because they were really the same dream repeated twice. Therefore, they were fulfilled completely as Yosef interpreted them, since they contained nothing meaningless, and were destined to come to pass immediately. That is why Yosef said “and about the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh twice, that is because the matter is נכון”, meaning that it is all true, and also “G-d is hastening to do it”, because it has both advantages together. Therefore he had to dream it twice, as we explained. These are the words of the Rav.
This is also what happened with Yosef when Hashem showed him in a dream that he would rule over his brothers in their lifetimes. Since it was not talking about a distant time, about their offspring, and also it did not contain anything that was meaningless, therefore he dreamed the same thing twice over.
Thus it says “and Yosef dreamed a dream and he told his brothers and they hated him even more”. But as yet their hatred was not so strong, because it was possible that either it was referring to a very distant time, about their offspring, or if it was supposed to happen soon, then it contained meaningless things, and would be not be fulfilled as completely as it appeared from the dream. And the reason why the Torah did not relate the details of the dream, was because it relied on that which it would relate in the following posuk, since it was the same dream repeated over, as we explained.
However, afterwards he dreamed that same dream again and he said to them “listen to this dream which I have dreamed”, that is, listen to this dream which I have already dreamed, and now I have dreamed it again, and if so, it is clear that all the matter of the kingship will be fufilled, and also it will happen soon, in our lifetime. Therefore they shouted at him “will you surely reign over us” - do you think that you will actually rule over us? “Will you surely govern us” - even mere government is also impossible.
But afterwards “he dreamed again another dream”, that is, also another dream he dreamed twice. And this is explanation of the repeated expression “again another” “he dreamed again a dream”, that which he had dreamed once, he dreamed again, and it was “another dream”, that just as the first one about the sheaves he dreamed twice, so too this about the sun and the moon he dreamed twice. “And he related it to his brothers, and he said: Behold I have dreamed another dream” - once again I have dreamed a dream, that is, that which I already dreamed, I now dreamed a second time.
About this claim his father rebuked him and he said to him “what is this dream which you have dreamed”. Is it possible that you already dreamed this dream? If so, there cannot be in it any meaningless thing, and also it must come to pass soon. “Will we surely come” - surely your mother is already dead and thus it contains some meaningless things. Or if all of it is meant to be fulfilled, and thus it must be referring to the time of the ressurection of the dead, then it will not come to pass soon. Thus it is impossible that you dreamed this same dream twice. And this is what he said “what is this dream which you dreamed?” - granted if you had dreamed it one time then it would be possible either that the moon is something meaningless, or it will come to passs at the end of thime. But this which your claim that you dreamed it twice is impossible.
Concerning this Rashi explained that Ya’akov did not know that the matter referred to Bilhah, and so it did indeed have both factors, that it contained nothing meaningless and that it would come to pass soon. But Rashi justifiably explained that our Rabbis learned from here, that is, they derived from here, that there is no dream without something meaningless. Because Ya’akov only asked about the dream being repeated twice, which proves that if he had dreamed it only once then it would have been good. From this it is clear that when one has a single dream it could have something meaningless. But concerning this dream of Yosef we have to answer that it referred to Bilhah, since he dreamed it twice and therefore it could not contain anything meaningless.
And finally, when Rashi wrote that Ya’akov intended by his words to make his sons forget the matter, these words are not a continuation of the words of the Rabbis, because we have already explained that that teaching of the Rabbis does not conflict with the first explanation at all. Rather it is a separate comment, that Ya’akov said to Yosef that just as the part about your mother is impossible, and therefore it was impossible that you dreamed it twice, so too the rest is meaningless. With this we have resolved all the questions that we asked.