During another eventful week of political power struggles, I learnt about the influence of Benjamin Disraeli on the modern Conservative Party. Benjamin was born a Jew.
Scholars debate the cause: maybe it was a quarrel with Bevis Marks Synagogue over £40 membership; the community’s insistence on him becoming parnas (treasurer); or a deep ideological difference of Anglo-Jewry’s assimilation and acceptance as members of society. But eventually, his father Isaac, had young Benjamin baptised. This enabled him to pursue a career in Parliament, denied to Jews until 1858, and gave him the opportunity to become Prime Minister twice.
How does a modern Jew balance his or her life in an intolerant world?
Intolerance in the 1800s was towards the Jew: change faith and you were somewhat secure. That intolerance continues to rear its ugly head today. Today’s real challenge, though, is intolerance toward G-d specifically, and faith and sacredness in general.
Joseph was the first of our people to reach high office in a much less tolerant society both as an Ivri (Jew) and toward his belief in one G-d. Yet he remained proud of his identity and his beliefs and at every juncture and echelon consistently credited his abilities and achievements to G-d.
Rebbi Yisrael of Ruzhin interprets the verse, “So said your son Joseph: ‘Samini Elokim LeAdon Lechol Mitzrayim'” (45,9) to mean: Joseph instructs his brothers to give Jacob not just a nachas-note that God has made me a lord over all the Egyptians; more so, tell him that the journey has begun, I have put Elokim, divine Shechina and spirituality as Adon, ruler in Egypt.
When our world is G-d sanctioned; it is G-d blessed. G-d, the source of all can thus bring you to places, success and positions you could not have imagined. Let G-d and spirituality into your workplace.