Is there a Torah portion involving our matriarchs and patriarchs that does not make reference to a (contentious) property or monetary transaction? Finances are central to Sefer Bereishis (the book of Genesis) and the life of Joseph. Last week he literally loses the coat off his back, is sold into slavery, and then ends up ‘forgotten’ in a prison. Next week, the tables are turned: Joseph controls the entire money supply of Egypt, acquiring all the property, and enslaving all its people (except the Priests who were supported by a stipend from Pharoah). In between, in our portion, Mikeitz (the end), Joseph introduces us to the concepts of insurance – taking Shimon to guarantee Benjamin’s appearance in Egypt, and rebates (in the brothers’ sacks).
This is all predicated on Joseph’s ability to put his money where his mouth is – pronouncing the end of 7 good years (in his interpretation of the dreams), and preparing by stockpiling commodities; in particular he “…amassed grain like the sand of the sea…” while everyone else seems to have ‘forgotten’ that a 7 year recession lies ahead promising to eclipse the years of plenty.
As well as an interpreter, perhaps he was a student of history. Since world economies began, they’ve followed this boom and bust pattern (often on a 7-12 year cycle). While everyone else thinks that this time will be different and (7) years of past performance (the years of plenty) will continue indefinitely, Joseph thanks Hashem for his blessings (naming his son Ephraim for “G-d has made me fruitful…”) and prepares to grow his wealth during the coming bear market.
Joseph’s depiction by the Chief cupbearer is spot on: “Na’ar Ivri” – a youth with the ability to see or experience the ‘other side’ – to be a contrarian. Like Abraham Ha’Ivri before him, and like the Maccabees generations later, the ability to prevail (Rabbim beyad me’atim) against the masses and hold true to contrarian values is a hallmark of our history and destiny.
PS: This contrarian investor believes that the Dow above 30K presents a tremendous selling opportunity. As Churchill said: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”