THE SUCCESS CHROMOSOME
Bitachon Bytes, VaYeishev
By Rabbi Zalman Goldberg
Yosef experienced many challenges in his young life; he was hated by his brothers, thrown by them into a pit, subsequently sold to total strangers, and resold several times until his ultimate arrival in Egypt. In spite of this trauma, the Torah records a very successful Yosef emerging from all of these hardships. First, in Potiphar’s house the pasuk gives a positive report of Yosef’s success in running the entire household, which is impressive for someone who was so viscously suppressed with torturous abuse. Then, after he was thrown into prison on false pretenses, the Torah gives even better news, that Yosef reached even greater success.
Success is something that all people seek, and from this story there are two Bitachon lessons that can help us in attaining success. (See Likkutei Sichos vol. 25 pgs. 213-218) Firstly, when we look closely at the description of Yosef’s success, we find that the Torah depicts the success as something that Hashem did— .”ה’ מצליח” As is pointed out in the pasuk, everyone who saw Yosef’s hatzlacha knew that it was from Hashem, because Yosef always attributed everything to Him. Every topic that Yosef discussed included a mention of Hashem; when successful, a blessing to Hashem emerged, and when hoping for good things, Hashem was once again mentioned.
This leads us to the second point, that constant recognition of Hashem must be synonymous with bittul of oneself to Hashem. In order for the mention and remembering of Hashem’s existence to elicit success, and a G-dly success at that, a person must be simultaneously battul to Hashem, for only in this way can a person be a vessel for such a revelation of Hashem. It is possible to mention Hashem continuously and still lack bittul; special attention must be given to make sure that both ingredients of success are addressed.
Interestingly, there are two depictions of Yosef’s success. One is that ה’ מצליח בידו in the house of Potifar and the other is ה’ מצליח, in jail. This shows us that there were two distinct levels of G-dly success. The first level of divine success was achieved when there was still a metzius of Yosef, hence the mention biyado (Yosef’s hand), alluding that the success that Hashem gave him, albeit great, had room for even greater improvement. This level of success happened while Yosef was a servant, which is quite a position of bittul, yet it wasn’t the ultimate bittul.
The second level of success was when Yosef was unjustly jailed and thus totally egoless, just as any prisoner is totally in the hands of the hands of the jailer. Now, his success was completely Hashem, with no biyado of his own, and this resulted in the greatest success imaginable.
These are the two critical ingredients necessary to attain success. One is to incorporate Hashem in a real way into every area of our lives, including thought and speech. Simultaneously, this G-dly life should be infused with bittul of oneself, without thinking or verbalizing any self-importance, redirecting all importance to Hashem alone. Through this bittul one becomes a vessel to the G-dly success that Yosef enjoyed.
Rabbi Zalman Goldberg is a well sought after speaker and lecturer on Chassidic thought. His writings and recordings on the topic of Bitachon can be accessed at http://www.gotbitachon.com.