THE Nile or DENIAL?

The economic news seems to be getting worse. From Wall Street to Main Street, car makers, to bankers, a recession of Biblical proportions threatens, with no end in sight.

Seasoned economists will readily admit (finally), to being absolutely stunned at the speed and scope with which this contagion seems to have spread.

What had initially seemed a simple case of an overindulgent real estate bubble has now spread to almost every facet of our global economy. From America to Europe, Japan, China and Russia, no one is inured to this crisis.

A global age, has in turn led to a global crisis, a crisis that will require a global response as well. This is not the first time we have been asked to deal with a crisis of this proportion, a similar global "recession" of sorts, is spoken about in the Torah, one that resulted in the emergence of a new world order that would forever change the course of history.

It begins with a dream, an extremely vivid dream that Pharaoh King of Egypt experiences. In this dream, Pharaoh finds himself on the banks of the River Nile, when behold, venturing forth from the river come seven well endowed cows, which promptly begin to graze at the edge of the river.

Disrupting this serene setting, are seven emaciated cows which also venture forth from the same river, and devour the seven well endowed cows, at which Pharaoh awakes with a start.

Joseph is called upon by Pharaoh to add meaning to this dream, which he does brilliantly, warning Pharaoh of an impending disaster of a global seven year famine; yet Joseph understands that a solution is embedded within the dream: the need to prepare for this famine, by stockpiling foodstuffs during the years of plenty, ensuring that there will be enough to eat during the leaner years as well.

What is most striking about this narrative is the emphasis of Pharaoh standing on the banks of the River Nile during this dream. Of what importance is it, that this seemingly insignificant geographic detail is mentioned?

Understanding the significance of this is the key to unlocking the entire episode of the biblical famine. The Nile to ancient Egypt was a deity, worthy of adoration and adulation as much as any of the pantheons of idols that existed to serve at the pleasure of the ancient societies, if not more so.

Bear in mind that Egypt is an arid land with very little annual rainfall to speak of, and it was the Nile and the network of canals and irrigation ditches, that the Egyptians relied upon to farm their land. Even today, many in Egypt will refer to the predictable flooding of the Nile, as the gift of the Nile.

It was to the Pharaoh’s sense of denial that the dream spoke; the very river that stoked the sense of invincibility in the Pharaoh’s and his people would be of no use when the years of famine arrived. It was only the divinely inspired foresight of Joseph, recognizing the lack of randomness in G‑d's plan, that enabled them to not only survive the lean years, but to prosper mightily as well.

And It was only fitting that it would be to the river the very epitome of Egyptian might and commercial power, of which Pharoh, had said “Mine is the river and I have made myself” [Ezekiel 29:3] that would be rendered useless during the first of the ten plagues.

Unfreezing the credit markets and fixing the economy will require a lot more than any of us are capable of, and much, much, more than any of the so-called experts are ready to admit.

Recognizing the hand of G‑d directly engaged in the business cycle and the wheel of fortune, will enable us to sooner enjoy the years of plenty. Our sustenance is thankfully entrusted into G‑d’s hands. Whilst we must make a vessel for G‑d’s blessings to reside, it is essentially, an unfreezing of spiritual credit, that will result in a parallel easing of our monetary credit as well, which will in turn enable us utilize what we have to further enhance our divine mission.

More Bitachon (trust) in G‑d = more Parnassah (livelihood).