June 17, 2024
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Preparing for the (Beginning of the) End

Is there a parsha involving our Avot and Imahot that does not make reference to a (contentious) property or monetary transaction? Finances are central to Sefer Bereishit and the life of Yosef Hatzadik. In last week’s parsha he literally loses the coat off his back, is sold into slavery, and then ends up “forgotten” in a prison. Next week the tables are turned: Yosef controls the entire money supply of Egypt, acquiring all the property and enslaving all its people (except the priests, who were supported by a stipend from Pharoah). In between, in our parsha, Yosef introduces us to the concepts of insurance—taking Shimon to guarantee Binyamin’s appearance in Egypt, and rebates (in the brothers’ sacks).

This is all predicated on Yosef’s ability to put his money where his mouth is: calling the end of seven good years (in his interpretation of the dreams) and preparing by stockpiling commodities; in particular he “…amassed grain like the sand of the sea…” while everyone else seems to have “forgotten” that a seven-year recession lies ahead, promising to eclipse the years of plenty.

As well as an interpreter, perhaps he was a student of history. Since world economies began, they’ve followed this boom and bust pattern (often on a seven- to 10-year cycle). While everyone else thinks that this time will be different and (seven) years of past performance (the years of plenty) will continue indefinitely, Yosef thanks Hashem for his blessings (naming his son Ephraim for “God has made me fruitful…”) and prepares to grow his wealth during the coming bear market.

Yosef’s depiction by the chief cupbearer is spot on: “na’ar Ivri”—a youth with the ability to see or experience the “other side”—to be a contrarian. Our stock market has just experienced the years of plenty. As the next bear market begins, may we all be blessed with the vision to prepare and expand our assets by following in Yosef’s contrarian footsteps.


Daniel Coleman, MBA, teaches financial literacy to students and parents in addition to college and career guidance. Following Yosef’s contrarian investment philosophy, he is preparing for a severe market drop by gradually accumulating HDGE whenever it dips below $3.30. He can be reached at [email protected].

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