The Golden Chain

In Genesis 41:38,  Pharaoh asks his couturiers, הֲנִמְצָ֣א כָזֶ֔ה אִ֕ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֛ר ר֥וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֖ים בּֽוֹ׃

Could we find another like him, a man in whom is the spirit of God?

The first part of this question has been asked countless times in the wake of the imminent departure of the person who seems to be irreplaceable.

The truth is, of course, that there are no irreplaceable people. The uniqueness of the combination of human and business qualities that every one of us possesses does not mean that the other person cannot perform our job with the same and even superior quality. We would like to think ourselves irreplaceable since this strokes our ego. The truth is, that every one of us is good for the very particular moment and situation. Joseph, the crisis intervention manager, might have been not so well-suited to the daily grind of the peaceful period of prosperity.

Abarbanel in his commentary berates Pharaoh for making the hasty on-the-spot HR decisions before getting to know Joseph better, “…why did he raise him before the thing was tested? And he also [prematurely] gave him a wife from the notables of the land.” Could not agree more.

The trend of appointing the dream interpreters to the chief executive positions continues in the Book of Daniel, where Daniel, unlike Joseph before him, at least tries to politely decline the offer. However, the golden chain is already put upon the necks of those two. It’s only a matter of time when, according to a famous Russian proverb, the affection of your boss is bound to turn into a rage.

About the Author
Nelly Shulman is a journalist and writer currently based in Berlin. She is an author of four popular historical novels in the Russian language. She is working on the fifth novel in this series and on her first English-language novel, a historical thriller set during the Siege of Leningrad. She a Hawthornden Fellow and an alumna of the Nachum Goldmann Fellowship.
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