Parashat Vayashev 5774–Shabbat Torah Study–Ruth Bergman–Thank You God. Baruch HaShem. God willing

After being sold by his brothers, Joseph was taken to Egypt and purchased as a slave by Potiphar. The Parasha relates that Potiphar’s success improved as he put Joseph in charge of different projects, We read that God was with Joseph and that Potiphar perceived that God was with Joseph. Genesis 39:1-6. The Sages asked how it was that Potiphar, who was an immoral Egyptian idolater, could recognize that God was with Joseph. Rashi and other commentators cite Midrash that the name of God was constantly on Joseph’s lips. Joseph could be heard saying “Thank You God,” “Baruch HaShem,” “God willing,” and blessings over food, etc. Potiphar would overhear Joseph’s private prayers that were always for good for himself and others—including Potiphar.

Interesting that it is a common custom among Jews, not just the orthodox, to acknowledge God’s role in our lives, adding the phrase, “Thank God” and other expressions. I know that it is a frequent part of my personal vocabulary though I am far from orthodox. It was also common in the household in which I was raised. Preparing this drash made me wonder though whether my references to God in my life are always stated with true intention and not just a response on autopilot. I certainly hope so, but now I am going to be more mindful.

Do you ever speak of God during the course of your day? Do you thank God for the blessings in your life? Do you ask God to extend blessings to others? When something good happens, you may say “mazel tov,”
(literally the “stars and constellations have aligned well”), but who arranged the mazel (the stars)?

Would you find it awkward to say, “How wonderful! May God continue to bless you.” If someone you know is sick, would you find it awkward to say to a person, “I pray that God will give you healing.”?

The Torah is teaching us that the words we utter truly reflect on us, can have awesome power and also bring positive reflections on our people. Maybe try to reference God a few times today and see how it feels?

This Shabbat we learn with Ruth Bergman on a fascinating topic that some call karma, others call providence and still others coincidence. It is not uncommon in Genesis for those who trick others to become tricked themselves. What goes around comes around? Is it all for the best? 10:00 a.m. Come as you are. Stay as long as you like.

I look forward to seeing you there, God willing.

Shabbat Shalom,

Paul

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