G‑d should get the credit

Rabbi Zushe Greenberg 
Special to the CJN (11/29/13)

In 1992, a van full of Yeshiva students in New York was crossing the Brooklyn Bridge when it suddenly came under fire from a Palestinian terrorist. Two of the students were struck in the head and rushed to the hospital. Tragically, one died after several days and the other lay unconscious for several weeks, finally miraculously recovering.

By the time he left the hospital, all the non-Jewish doctors and nurses knew two words in Hebrew: Boruch Hashem (Thank G‑d)

Whenever the victim’s mother was asked how her son was doing, she’d reply, “Boruch Hashem,” and so, eventually, the entire staff soon came around to saying “bruk hashem!”

The Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chasidic movement, used to travel from town to town and ask his fellow Jews, “How’s business?,” “How’s your health?,” and he would delight in hearing them respond, “Boruch Hashem” or “Thank G‑d, everything’s fine!” The Baal Shem Tov would say that G‑d greatly enjoyed these expressions of praise.

Where does the concept of thanking G‑d in our daily conversations originate?

In the book of Genesis, we read the famous saga of Joseph, sold as a slave and sent down to Egypt by his brothers. The Torah tells us that “G‑d was with Joseph and he became a successful man.” So much so that Potiphar “his master saw that G‑d was with him and that everything he does, G‑d makes it succeed in his hand.”

The Lubavitcher Rebbe asks: How did Potiphar, a pagan, know that G‑d was the reason for Joseph’s success?

At the beginning of this week’s Torah portion Mikeitz, when we find Joseph standing before the Pharaoh, the ruler of all, at the moment that will decide his entire fate – slavery or freedom – what does he say? “… G‑d will tell the Pharaoh’s welfare.” And if you look earlier, you find that in every dialogue, Joseph always slips in G‑d’s name.

So it’s no wonder, says the Rebbe, that Potiphar knew that “G‑d was with him.” Joseph took pains to convey that he knew that everything comes from G‑d.

We frequently hear how successful people are asked, “What’s the secret of your success?”

The first success story we read about in the Torah is the story of Joseph: “And he became a successful man.” We can conclude that the secret of Joseph’s success was that he always credited his success to G‑d’s blessings.

When one recognizes that all his successes are in G‑d’s merit and that alone he could not do it, and says “Boruch Hashem” for whatever he has, G‑d blesses him with success in all the work of his hands.