December 18, 2020
This week’s Miketz Torah portion is the fundamental biblical story highlighting the value of strategic planning. It is in this week’s text that we read of Pharaoh’s dreams of the seven fat cows being consumed by the seven lean ones, and the seven hearty ears of grain being consumed by the seven sickly ones. These undecipherable dreams become Joseph’s ticket out of jail and set him on the path toward his ultimate assignment as Governor of Egypt.
Being able to read the signs of the times was Joseph’s greatest skill. His ability to not be swayed by the personal benefit or detriment of any given moment, and to be able to step back and see how the experience itself had lessons to learn and experiences to gain, were his greatest strength. We know Joseph as an “interpreter of dreams”, but he was so much more than that. Joseph was a great strategic thinker, as well as an eternal optimist. The combination of these two great skills gave him the ability to see things that others could not. Joseph saw opportunity when others saw threat. Joseph saw success when others saw failure. And Joseph saw goodness when others saw evil.
Looking at this story through the lens of strategic planning, we see that it was not that Pharaoh’s dream interpreters could not decipher Pharaoh’s dreams. Rather, it was that none of them wanted to share the “bad news” that they were going to enter a terrible time of famine. Pharaoh’s staff saw the same message that Joseph did, the difference is that Joseph saw seven plentiful years followed by seven years of famine as an opportunity rather than a threat. Joseph saw seven years of planning and strategizing followed by seven years of productivity. Joseph saw seven years of sustenance followed by seven years of provision.
Pharaoh too was smart in recognizing these great strengths in Joseph. Pharaoh understood that to have someone around who would tell him the good and the bad news was a gift. He understood that having someone who saw the danger and turned it into opportunity was a rare commodity. Nothing deterred Joseph. He had already “lost his life” so many times before. Joseph understood that life was about living. Dwelling on the past that he could not change provided him with nothing. Looking into the future and charting a course to help others, do good, and to serve the community was his greatest gift. Joseph’s coat of many colors was our foreshadowing into who Joseph really was. He was the human chameleon able to find his way in any terrain, environment, and condition.
Like Joseph, the Jewish Federation of San Antonio is embarking on a strategic planning process for our San Antonio Jewish community. We are excited that in 2021 this committee will begin the important and critical work of gathering our community’s “dreams” in order to strategize and plan for what lies ahead. We will be sharing much more information with the community at large on how your participation will be critical to our combined success. In the meantime, consider this a teaser in honor of Joseph’s story on what will be coming soon, because what you need to know today is that the Jewish Federation is: