Work Smarter And Harder

[First posted on The Times of Israel at:]

Netziv Genesis: Vayeshev

Work Smarter And Harder

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” -Stephen King

I don’t recall when I first heard the American truism of “Work Smarter NOT Harder.” It was a consultant’s motto. A manager’s lodestone. Brains, not brawn. Let’s think of solutions for the lazy man. Let’s design time and effort-saving devices in order to work less. Work became a dirty word. Success would come from intelligence. Manual labor was worse than being unemployed.

Now there are millions of debt-ridden hyper-educated unemployed and millions of job openings for those willing to use their hands and backs.

Success may require a return to manual and hard labor. However, the Netziv on Genesis 39:6 has a different source for employment success.

The text tells us that when Joseph is a slave in Egypt, his masters notice his divine success. Did Joseph have a sign over his head proclaiming God’s assistance? Did God sign his name on Joseph’s work in flashing neon lights? What does it mean that they realized his success came from God?

The Netziv explains that it became obvious to Joseph’s masters that his success was out of all proportion to his capabilities or efforts. The only answer was that it came from God. Not that we don’t need talent, intelligence or hard work – but often God is the final ingredient for success.

May we experience success in all our good work.

Shabbat Shalom,



To Mike Rowe who has elevated my interest and appreciation for “Dirty” Jobs.

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