By: Rabbi Barak Bar-Chaim
The Torah describes Joseph’s ascendancy in the house of his master, Potiphar: “And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and whatever he (Joseph) did the Lord made prosper in his hand.” – Genesis 39, 3. Our tradition teaches us that Potiphar was not a righteous individual. How then did Potiphar see that God was with Joseph?
The Malbim explains that the answer is contained in the words “…and whatever he (Joseph) did the Lord made prosper in his hand.” Potiphar saw that Joseph was successful in endeavors with a very low probability of success and therefore concluded that this supernatural success resulted from God being with Joseph and blessing all his activities.
The Midrash Tanchuma offers a different explanation. Joseph would enter to serve Potiphar and whisper to himself “Master of the universe, my trust is in You, You are my solution. Let me find grace, kindness and compassion in Your eyes, in the eyes of all who see me and in Potiphar’s eyes.” Potiphar would inquire as to Joseph’s whispering and Joseph would explain that he was praying to God to find favor in Potiphar’s eyes. Throughout Joseph’s work activities the name of God would be upon his lips in prayer. According to this beautiful interpretation, Potiphar saw that Joseph was constantly connected to God in prayer.
Joseph teaches us that prayer is not only reserved to the domain of specific timeslots in the setting of a holy place. Prayer is a way of life, a deep realization of our complete dependence upon the almighty God, and therefore manifests in our daily work and activities. Talking to God is the domain of the bus, car and airplane. Praying for grace, kindness and compassion is the domain of a stroll on the beach, the doctor’s office, the workplace, the kitchen and all our daily activities. Let us learn from Joseph and turn our trust towards God to such a degree that it becomes apparent that God is indeed with us.