Sometimes we need to dream. We usually think of a dreamer as impractical, who will never get anything done. However, sometimes those dreams are necessary. They give us direction and ambition. They provide us with a goal we can pursue with our other faculties.
Rav Yoel bin Nun points out that the Torah stresses Yossef's character, that of a dreamer. Before Yossef, Hashem spoke to our people through more direct communication. Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov were all prophets. Hashem spoke to them and told them what to do. He didn't send a dream which they had to interpret. Even Lot, a figure not highlighted in the Torah for his righteousness, receives direct divine communication and the explicit command to leave Sdom before its destruction. Yossef is different. He received divine communication, but in the form of dreams. And even when he was not the one dreaming, he understood dreams and could interpret them for others.
Dreams and prophecy are fundamentally different. Both provide an endpoint to which we can aspire. Both provide us with guidance about how to approach the coming challenges. However, dreams are far more subject to interpretation. Dreams feel less like divine communication because they heighten the human element of different and individual understanding.
We always read the story of Yossef around Channukah. The two stories share the element of dreams. The Maccabees lacked any direct divine communication. They were forced to function in a world where there was no prophecy. And yet, they dared to rebel against their mighty Greek overlords and establish a Jewish state and cultural centre to protect their heritage. They responded to adversity by dreaming, like Yossef, and acting on their dreams.
Today, we face a challenging world where many seem out to get us again. The lesson of Yossef and Channukah is clear. We must hold on to our dreams of peace and a better world, and do what we can to pursue them. Each of us understands those dreams a little differently. Each of us connects to the divine call of fixing what is broken in our own way. The message of our parashah is that even that very contradictory world is sacred. Our disparate responses to our shared dream are themselves, part of what Hashem means to achieve through this communication. May we be worthy of that privilege?
"If they are not prophets, they are the children of prophets" -- Talmud Pesachimg 66a