Having God’s Name on Our Lips

Yael Eckstein  |  November 30, 2021

Man holding his hands up to mouth in a prayer position.

Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. — Genesis 41:25

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Mikeitz, which means “at the end,” from Genesis 41:1–44:17.

Among Jews, it’s common to mention God when we greet each other. When asked “How are you?” Many Jews will respond “Baruch Hashem,” which means “Bless the Lord.” This is what I was used to growing up in the Jewish community in the United States. Later when I moved to Israel, I was introduced to a new reply, “Todah la’el,” “Thanks to God,” which is just as common here as Baruch Hashem.

We first see this practice in the Bible in the Book of Ruth. When Boaz went out to his field to speak to his workers there, he greeted them by saying, “The LORD be with you.” The workers replied, “The LORD bless you” (Ruth 2:4).

Having God’s name on our lips in our everyday conversation reminds us of His presence in every moment of life. It’s a great habit to get into! If you try it out, you’ll find yourself thinking about God even more than you do now.

Apart from the impact on our own awareness of God, including God in our conversations is even more important when we are speaking with people who may not yet know about God. For example, I try to make it a point to say, “God bless,” to the cashier at the checkout line, to a flight attendant, or anytime I have a casual interaction with anyone.

Making God part of our hellos and goodbyes increases awareness of God for us and for everyone around us. And you’d be surprised how often it makes people smile.

Having God’s Name on Our Lips

In this week’s Torah portion, Joseph was brought before Pharaoh to interpret his dreams. Here was an imprisoned foreign slave, standing before Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, a land immersed in pagan belief. And yet when Joseph was asked to speak, he took every opportunity to have God’s name on his lips.

Consider all these opportunities: “God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do”; “God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do”; and “the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon” (Genesis 41:25; 28; 32).

Over and over, Joseph mentioned God as he spoke to the king of Egypt who saw himself as a god. When we have God’s name on our lips we follow in Joseph’s footsteps and bring light into even the darkest places.

Your Turn:

Try adding God’s name to all your casual interactions. As you get used to it, note the impact on you and on others.