Whispers

Art by Maggidah Shoshannah Brombacher, Ph.D.
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Contact her at shoshbm@gmail.com – originals from this series are available.

"And his master saw that the Lord was with him." (Gen. 39:3)

So here we have Joseph, slave to Potiphar in Egypt: how will he be treated? What will his life be like? The Sages give us a sweet story – and the opportunity to bring that sweetness into our daily lives.

R. Huna interpreted in R. Aha’s name: Joseph whispered G!d’s name whenever he came in and whenever he went out. If his master bade him, ‘Mix me a drink of hot liquor,’ lo! it was hot; ‘Mix it me lukewarm,’ lo! it was lukewarm.

‘What means this, Joseph!’ exclaimed he; ‘Would you bring straw to Afrayim, or pitchers to Kefar Hananiah, or fleeces to Damascus, or witchcraft to Egypt: witchcraft in a place of witchcraft!’

How long did he suspect him of witchcraft? Said R. Hunia in R. Aha’s name: Until he saw the Shechinah standing over him. Hence it says, and when his master saw that the Lord was with him… Joseph found favor in his sight.

Midrash Rabbah – Genesis LXXXVI:5

To recap: Joseph makes his way through his day, whispering the name of G!d at every little transition. Miraculously, his burdens are eased – even to the extent that when he fetches a beverage for his master it is exactly the right temperature!

Potiphar, living in a land of magicians, thinks that this is some feeble attempt on Joseph’s part to show how good a magician he is. Then, he sees the Shekhina – G!d’s presence whenever G!d interacts with our world – hovering over him, protecting him, and Potiphar knows that Joseph is indeed special.

Is it all about magic, then? Chanting the secret Name so that drinks are heated for us by G!d, saving us a step to the microwave? Of course not! And yet…

We can bring magic into our lives: not stage magic, but the real touch of the Shekhina, that Feminine presence of G!d which brings healing, shelter, and surcease from our troubles. How? What is the magic word, the Ineffable Name? It requires nothing of the sort.

All we have to do is invite G!d into our lives, with simple actions: a murmured prayer, a little mitzvah (commandment), giving of our time or money to the less fortunate. And, like Joseph, don’t settle for issuing a single invitation! Keep working at your openness, for the more room you make, the more you will be filled.


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