July 21, 2024
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July 21, 2024
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Let’s Hope the End Is Near

Last month my wife and I felt ill with aches and flu-like symptoms. We got tested for COVID-19 and yes, we tested positive. So did all our children! We had been so careful by wearing masks and social distancing. Yet…I was sick for three days and my wife took a little longer. Baruch Hashem, our children felt fine. When we recovered, my wife and I felt such an incredible feeling of relief. We had felt “locked down” for eight months! Now we finally felt more free to attend a wedding and other social gatherings with proper COVID precautions since we had recovered and had antibodies to the virus.

The feeling of elation from being freed appears at the beginning of Parshas Mikeitz. Yosef was incarcerated for 12 long years and suddenly is freed and rushed to appear before Paroh to interpret his dreams. Paroh was so impressed with Yosef’s interpretation that he not only freed him but appointed him viceroy over all of Mitzrayim!

The parsha opens with the words “Vayehi Mikeitz”—it was at the completion of the time period. However, the Torah is not clear as to what time period it’s referring. The Midrash explains it was the end of time for Yosef to be incarcerated and equates this to a pasuk in Iyov, “Keitz som l’choshech”—Hashem designated a certain time period for darkness. Rav Yerucham Levovitz equates darkness to challenges and difficulties. Just as Yosef’s time in jail was finite, so too darkness, difficulties and challenges in our lives don’t last forever.

The word “keitz” is also used when Bnei Yisrael left Mitzrayim: “Vayehi Mikeitz”—and it was at the end. Everything has its time and place. When Yosef had served his time, and when the Jewish nation had finished its decreed enslavement, they were freed…immediately!

Indeed, changes can happen abruptly. Yosef went from incarceration to being appointed viceroy of Mitzrayim in one day. The Sforno notes that we find the same haste when the Jews left Mitzrayim—ki garshu miMitzrayim—the Jews were “chased” out of Egypt, leaving them without time for their dough to rise. In the same way, the ultimate redemption will come with great speed. Yeshuas Hashem k’heref ayin—the redemption of Hashem comes in the blink of an eye.

Before he passed away, Yaakov wanted to reveal the ultimate “keitz”—the time of Moshiach—to his children. But Hashem made him forget the time so he would not be able to reveal it. Although Yaakov was not able to reveal the time, Rav Gedalia Schorr explains that Hashem wants us to live through our exile and difficulties as though Moshiach could come at any time. We need to know there is a “keitz”—an end point—and we must constantly yearn for the redemption to happen soon.

This lesson is pivotal for us whenever we face a challenging period. When one knows there is an end to it, the challenge is easier to endure. Our faith gives us fortitude in life’s challenges even though we must go through our exile not knowing when it will end.

An additional reason why the exact time was not revealed by Yaakov is that the time calculation can be shifted. As the Haggadah of Pesach says, only Hashem determines the keitz (Hashem chishev es hakeitz). Indeed, Hashem told Avraham that his children will be foreigners in a foreign land (referring to Egypt) for 400 years, but Rashi notes the Jews were in Mitzrayim only 210 years. Hashem started the calculation of the 400 years from the birth of Yitzchak, 190 years prior to exile. This is alluded to in the word keitz, above, which has the numerical value of 190. Hashem factors in a person’s merits or demerits to calculate the time, starting or continuing through various circumstances.

When the keitz does arrive, all the pieces that need to be in place will be there. It may appear that the dreams of Paroh were the cause of Yosef’s release, but in truth it was the opposite. The completion of Yosef’s time to be incarcerated was the cause for Paroh to have the dreams. The Beis Halevi proves this with the opening words of the parsha, “At the conclusion of two years, Paroh had a dream.”

The Midrash refers to the Greek exile as darkness. Just as the Greek exile ended with Chanukah, so too, the current exile we are in will end. Similarly, we don’t know when COVID-19 will end. But Hashem has a time, and as fast as it came, Hashem can make it disappear just as quickly.


Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is the associate rosh yeshiva of Passaic Torah Institute (PTI)/Yeshiva Ner Boruch. PTI has attracted people from all over northern New Jersey, including Teaneck, Paramus, Fair Lawn, Livingston and West Orange. He initiated and leads a multi-level Gemara-learning program. He has spread out beyond PTI to begin a weekly beis medrash program with in-depth chavrusa learning in Livingston, Fort Lee and a monthly group in West Caldwell. Rabbi Bodenheim can be reached at [email protected]. For more info about PTI and its full offering of torah classes visit www.pti.shulcloud.com.

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