Dear family and friends, does anyone feel like no matter what they do, something always prevents them from getting ahead? Do we wonder, what does it take to be successful? What defines success? Who defines success? One of the Major themes in Genesis 39 is prosperity.
My father, may he rest in peace used to tell a story. I call it the rich man poor man story. I added a few details. The story took place in a Jewish Community with a very wealthy man and a very poor man. The poor man was known for being righteous. Occasional, he would share a prophecy or a Torah insight. The wealthy man was known for being excessively frugal. He did not enjoy his wealth. He was continually looking for a way to increase his fortune. He was not generous. Occasionally he contributed to a good cause in the community.
The rich man and the poor man are members of the same congregation. They would see each other daily in the morning, afternoon, and evening prayer time. They were friendly with each other. They often expressed warm greetings and pleasantries. Community prayers were typically followed by men standing around conversing about local news, events, etc. The rich man listened astutely to gain an edge about potential investments. It was usual for the rich man to inquire from the poor man. That specific day he asked do you have a word from The Lord, Blessed be His Name. The poor man respond yes!, Then proceeded to share. He said the wealthiest individual in the area would die overnight. The rich man was shaken by his words. He considered himself the wealthiest individual for miles around. He immediately went home and began preparing to meet his maker. In the morning when he awoke, he thought to himself, ‘I didn’t die. The poor man got it wrong.’ Later, when he went to the congregation for morning prayers, he learned that the poor man passed away. The rich man was thinking about His great wealth when, in fact, The prophecy was about one’s spirituality. Again, who defines success?
Our dialogue in Genesis 39 focuses on the stark differences between two successful men, Judah and his younger brother, Joseph. Judah chose to go down away from his brothers. No one was pressuring him. It was his choice.
On the other hand, Joseph was forcibly taken down to Egypt. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers. He was manipulated, abused, held captive in a serpent-infested pit, and then sold into slavery. Joseph did not have a choice.
Joseph was physically forced to go to Egypt.
People who control others use a variety of methods to accomplish what they want. Their tactics include physical and verbal abuse, intimidation, control, blackmail, money, drugs, and more. A vow controlled Joseph that his brothers imposed upon him as a condition of selling him into slavery instead of murdering him. He was sold into slavery and exiled from all of his family. At that time, his brothers were angry and annoyed by him. Joseph fell at their feet and begged for mercy. They prohibited Joseph from any form of contact. His owners laughed at him and beat him when he claimed to be the son of a wealthy nomad.
Sometimes like Joseph, we are forced to go to places we would rather not go to. We go because we are forced. We go because we are pressured. We don’t care for what is happening but have little choice in the matter. We are pressured into doing things we do not want to do.
And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the hands of the Ishmaelites, who had brought him down there.
On the other hand, Judah made a mistake and took some wrong turns. Sometimes we may do the same thing. When we get off on the wrong path, we may feel like life is hopeless. We may become severely depressed. We may beat ourselves up. Perhaps we feel like we have ruined our lives, and there’s no reason to continue. Judah made a mess of things. Yet, God, through His gracious mercy and lovingkindness, brought Judah back onto the path of righteous living. Judah reestablished a good relationship with his brothers, as we shall see a little later in another discussion, God Willing.
I have taken a wrong turn here and there and am so appreciative and thankful that The Lord helped me. Scripture states,’ A just individual falls seven times and yet rises again,’ Proverbs 24.16.
How many times have we fallen and find a way to get back up again? The Lord is Merciful, Gracious, Loving, Kind, Compassionate, Understanding, and Forgiving. Scripture informs us that we could fall several times and get up and keep ongoing. Joseph and Judah kept falling and getting up. It wasn’t pretty, but they got to the place God intended for them.
And it came to pass at that time, that JUDAH WENT DOWN from his brothers, and turned in to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah.
God’s mercies are greater than life’s challenges.
So how do we succeed? How do we prosper? Who defines success? Who denotes prosperity? I am successful and enjoy prosperity, yet I am not wealthy. My body is wracked with pain and sicknesses, but I am thankful and happy. God is good! Blessed be His name forever! The Lord is Maker of everything and master all. Everything that happens in life must pass by His watchful eye. Everything that God does is for good.
‘Whatever the All-Merciful does is for good’
Rabbi Akiba taught: A man should always accustom himself to say, “Whatever the All-Merciful does is for good’, as exemplified in the following incident. Rabbi Akiva was once traveling along the road. He came to a particular town and looked for lodgings but was refused to lodging everywhere. He went. He said, ‘Whatever the All-Merciful does is for good.’ Then he went to spend the night in an open field. Traveling with him was a cock, an ass, and a lamp. A gust of wind came and blew out the lamp, a weasel came and ate the cock, a lion came and ate the ass. He said: ‘Whatever the All-Merciful does is for good.’ The same night some brigands came and carried off the inhabitants of the town. Rabbi Akiba said, Did I not tell you, ‘Whatever the All-Merciful does He does for good.
Some of us are captive to physical limitations. We may see that our body is going to fail. When it does, our spirit/soul will be released from the captivity of our body. Our spirit/soul will begin living in a different realm. Our spirit soul mind will continue on living. We will return to God, who gave us life initially. We will be given a brand-new body. So all hope is not gone. Each of us is in a state of transition. Life will improve for us. We will be happy and joyful and bless The Lord God of Israel for His many gifts of life. May The Lord Bless and continue keeping each one of us!
Remember, Joseph had issues. He was incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit. He didn’t receive family visits. He could not go and come as he pleased. Still, The Lord made everything prosper.
But The Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in jail, and whatever was done there; he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to anything that was under his hand; because The Lord was with him, and that which he did, The Lord made it to prosper.
As noted, one of the Major themes in Genesis 39 is prosperity. Just as The Lord prospered Joseph, The Lord desires to prosper us. How do we know this? The Gematria for מַצְלִֽיחַ Matzih Lee Ach is 178. חָפֵץ Chaw Faytz, meaning ‘Delight’ is also 178. Mystically we see that The Lord delighted in prospering Joseph. Please remember there are many avenues of prosperity. Prosperity is not only about money and wealth.
Matzih Lee Ach
מ40 צ90ל30 י10 ח8 = 178
ח8 פ80 צ90 = 178
The Torah of The Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of The Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of The Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The Commandment of The Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of The Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of The Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even very fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
May The Lord Bless us in our daily walk, and may we stay within Torah’s guidelines. May The Lord made us prosper. May we bring peace and healing to our world. May this coming Sabbath and every Sabbath be a blessed Day.
Akiva George Belk