An End to Our Darkness
The word miketz or keitz signifies “end” or “conclusion.” It is usually used
to denote the end of an era, the defining moment of the passage of time. It
also denotes that a great change of circumstances is about to occur. What
was before will be no longer. The end of the past will give way to a new
reality. In this week’s parsha the word introduces us to the radical change
in the circumstances of Yosef – from dungeon inmate to viceroy of Egypt.
In Jewish tradition, the word is employed to describe the end of the period
of exile and trials of Israel and the beginning of the longed for redemption
and messianic era. Implicit in our understanding of the word as it appears
in the Torah and Jewish tradition is the understanding that nothing is
certain and what may appear to be long lasting and immovable is always only
temporary and given to change.
Only uncertainty is certain in our lives and in all human affairs. There is
always an end to the present and a new future, for good or for better,
always is present just over the horizon of time. This short Hebrew word
mocks all of the predictions of experts in any field of endeavor. All such
statements are based upon the known past and present but these come to an
eventual end and the future remains as inscrutable as ever. We are experts
in hindsight. We rarely achieve meaningful foresight in any field of human
endeavor, and in national and personal living.
All of this is true regarding humankind generally. It is doubly true
regarding the future of the Jewish people and Israel. Only the diehards
stubbornly insist that somehow the path of the Oslo Agreements has not yet
come to an end. Only the hardened and Jewishly Torah ignorant secularist
believe that somehow theirs is the solution to the “Jewish problem,” both
internally and externally.
In our generation, the end has come to many ideas, ideologies and
circumstances that were supposed to carry on for future centuries. The whole
world’s economic structure is now threatened by the unthinkable, something
that economic experts told us could never happen and that there never would
be an end to consumer and debt driven prosperity.
Hitler’s Reich was to have lasted one thousand years and Marx’s economic
theories were to have produced eternal peace, fairness and a certain and
easily predictable future. The world operates as though the word miketz is
not present in the human lexicon. That is the main tragic error in human
society for it allows for faulty planning, a sense of overconfidence, and a
pompous certainty of rectitude that is based on the false assumption that
circumstances and eras do not change or end.
This week’s parsha reiterates this true fact of our existence, uncomfortable
as that may be to our psyche. The Midrash introduces its commentary to our
parsha with the verse “keitz – an end has the Lord brought to our darkness.”
May that be the keitz to our era as well.
Rabbi Berel Wein