A Mysterious Ending
The psalmist asks the question “from where shall my salvation arise?” He has
no doubt that salvation will somehow come to him but he does not know how
that will occur. Life is so unpredictable and volatile that no person,
government or institution can truly plan with certainty its success and
salvation. “The best laid plans of mice and men…” certainly are undone by
events and circumstances that are completely incapable of being foreseen.
This is one of the salient lessons of this week’s parsha. Yosef is saved
from a life of slavery and prison and transformed into a royal magistrate in
an instant. He is certain that somehow God will redeem him that his dreams
were not merely youthful folly and that he is destined for greatness and
fame, but he has no concept how this can occur.
It takes a confluence of strange and even mundane events – Pharaoh’s
stewards being imprisoned in the same cell block as Yosef, their strange
dreams, Pharaoh’s birthday, Pharaoh’s own disturbing dreams, the confessions
of the wine steward as to his earlier misdeeds and Yosef’s boldness in
interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams – to vault Yosef into rulership in the land of
Who could have scripted such a drama in advance of its actual happening? But
in reality is this not the way that life always plays itself out for all of
us personally and certainly for the Jewish people nationally? We are all
Yosef, confident of redemption and vindication but terribly confused as to
how this will actually come about.
There are many participants in a person’s redemption and success. This is
true certainly so in the national life of the Jewish people. We may naively
think that it is always completely up to us but God has His ways and in the
words of the rabbis “God has many messengers that do His bidding.” Many
times they do so unwittingly and certainly unaware that they are fulfilling
The wine steward, the warden in Yosef’s prison, even the Pharaoh himself,
are apparently unaware of the roles and actions that destiny has assigned to
them. There is an unseen rhythm that guides Jewish life and every person in
the world is potentially God’s messenger to help realize and actualize
Jewish destiny. We may not like all of the actors in this script but they
all play a role nevertheless.
And because of this we are constantly reminded of the eternal question “from
where will my salvation and redemption come?” Usually it comes from
unforeseen circumstances and people who are strangers to us and our ways and
even our hopes and goals. The drama of life is unending and complicated.
The Torah warned us of this by stating that “the hidden things belong to God
but what is clear is that Jews should observe the Torah and transmit it to
their following generations.” But there always is a “miketz” – an ending, a
fulfillment and an achievement of goals. How that “miketz” occurs is the
everlasting mystery of life itself.
Rabbi Berel Wein