Jeffrey Levine
CFO | Seeking a just world I Author

Parsha Mikeitz – a second look at the Joseph story

Let’s look at how Joseph rises from being a prisoner to becoming a viceroy.

Let’s ask this question differently – What is the secret to being successful in life, in your business?

Timing, luck, persistence – Joseph’s life was hard – sold as a slave and put in prison. At the university, he was tested to the extreme of hard knocks in life. Yet, he kept dreaming of a better future. Timing is an essential factor when launching a business or buying a property.

Faith – Joseph was not ashamed to use the G word – God. We need to acknowledge that we are not in control and that a higher force is in play. We also need to thank God for both the good and the bad.

Mazal- Luck – we like to say that business was lucky. I had the same idea, but how come he is successful? In the story of Joseph, many other people similarly interpret the dream. So, how come Joseph succeeded in convincing Pharaoh-king of Egypt?

Emotional Intelligence – We can be good at doing the work – being an accountant, lawyer or programmer. Still, to succeed in business and life, you need good social skills and an understanding of the other person, your boss, and his needs, anxieties and concerns. You need to know how to sell your product, your idea, and yourself. You need to have listening skills, stay calm when being insulted and have resilience.

Indeed, in our Parsha, we have two instances of high emotional intelligence at Play – Yehuda with Joseph and  Joseph with Pharaoh.

And here comes the knockout punch. Joseph recognised the GAP.

In a best-selling book – The GAP Selling by Keenan whose message is – to sell or influence your idea or product, you need to know the investor’s or customer’s needs or motivation. You need to understand the person in front of you.

The Author highlights three fundamental sales principles, “truths of selling.”

  1. If the customer doesn’t have a problem that your product can solve, you won’t make a sale.
  2. It’s your job, not the customer’s, to define this gap accurately.
  3. Customers likely don’t understand the extent of their problem and often underestimate how serious it is,

This is what Joseph did so eloquently. He identified the future problem. He highlighted that the seriousness of coming famine would be very severe. He proposed that Pharaoh needed to act now to avoid the problem. He suggested an action plan and suggested that “let Pharaoh look for an insightful person”. In short, Joseph hit all the spots of the GAP sale. Pharaoh was convinced the sale was made. And indeed, Pharaoh asks:

בראשית מא׃לח

Genesis 41:38

וַיֹּאמֶר פַּרְעֹה אֶל־עֲבָדָיו הֲנִמְצָא כָזֶה אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר רוּחַ אֱלֹהִים בּֽוֹ׃

And Pharaoh said to his servants, can we find such a man as this is in whom the spirit of God is?

Now let us look at what happens after the sale was concluded.

Joseph received power and money. Our startup has received money to carry out the vision and the mission. How do we use that money correctly? What the Torah writes may not be politically correct, but let’s explore a few more passages.

  1. Business Plan – Joseph prepared and executed the plan to perfection. Not only that he receives the power and money to carry this out, but he also empowered a robust Government system and rule.
  2. Monopoly – “Superior Brand/Offering”– Joseph amassed a fortune of grain, and both local and foreign buyers had no choice but to buy the grain – He had the product that sold – just like Google or Facebook. There are no real alternatives, so we ‘use” the services.
  3. Exploitation – Joseph used the power of economic strength to benefit his backer – Pharoah. The people lost their land and became Serfs who occupied a plot of land and were required to work for the government that owned it. Like today, big businesses can exploit their suppliers and customers. We need to be conscious of the excesses here.

And here lies the problem – Government vs people. Governments, Kings have exploited the people. There were no equal rights. There was no concern for the citizen. War – demanded the lives of the subjects. Let’s be clear – most wars were economic gain or power of the country. People were taxed – Even the wise King Shlomo overtaxed the people, and his son went even further, leading to a rebellion and the defection of the ten tribes.  Colonialism, Slavery, Serfdom, Kingship, and Dictatorship were not kind to the people. Today, we like to think that Democracy is just and fair. We have Capitalism which Joseph used to strengthen the Government. Yes, Governments benefit from Economic strength and taxes.

We, the average Joe, feel overtaxed. Can we rebel? If I paid fewer taxes, I could balance my Income and expenses and not be in continual debt.

But there is a more profound question – Does Government act in the best interests of its citizens? Why is there so much poverty today? Why are so many areas so run down? Who is to blame? What is the ideal economic system?

Today, I am encouraged and actively promoting ESG – Environment, Social, and Governance in Business. This is now becoming mainstream and is based on UN SDGs. Despite the backlash or pushback against ESG, mandatory reporting is becoming the norm. There is a coming together of Government, Business and the Individual to correct the wrongs of the past and work together for a better world. While there is much hot air about the Environment – Climate Change – Damage caused by big businesses exploiting the Environment, and limited resources for economic gain, the real focus should be on social – Government and industry need to be sensitive to the people – and in this case the Poor. And especially Extreme Poverty and Hunger and UN SDG 1 and 2.

Is there an answer to this GAP? In a blog by Israeli Farmer and Entrepreneur Dr Nimrod Israely titled – Global challenges, simple solutions? He answers YES and shows how.

I encourage you to read this and join efforts to make the world a better place –  We can transform poverty into prosperity, and it does not have to be like the old way – I win – you lose, but in a situation, I win, you win – an economical solution where Governments, Businesses, Investors and the people all benefit.

It is time for us, the world, to correct the mistakes of the past.

It is time for us, the world, to correct past mistakes.

So, to answer the question - How to be successful in life? -It is not only you and the wealth amassed. It is about sharing that knowledge, wealth, or talents to make the world fairer and better.

In the spirit of these thoughts, I am continuing my upgrading ESG to impact journey. In addition to being CFO at Dream Valley,, whose mission is: “To improve farmers’ livelihood while providing better fruit to premium markets. Dream Valley will increase small farm holders’ income per hectare, helping them supply consumers with healthier, better-tasting fruit free of bio and chemical hazards and grown in a safe, eco-friendly environment.”


I also have set up an initiative branded Upgrading ESG and a website – The objective is to make this a resource for all people and companies to reach net zero and make an Impact. It is not just enough to measure and report; companies need to change how they contribute to the environment and society.

We are only in this world for a short time, and we need to consider what legacy and impact we make. What message do I want to impart to my children, and what footprint, however small, can we contribute to making the world a fairer and better place?


About the Author
Jeffrey is a CFO | Seeking a just world I Author -living in Jerusalem. He is a young grandfather who has five kids and six grandchildren. Jeffrey is promoting a vision for a better and fairer world through and is the author of Upgrading ESG - How Business can thrive in the age of Sustainability
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