You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you. Genesis 41:40
This Torah portion for this week is Mikeitz, which means "at the end," from Genesis 41:1-44:17, and the Haftorah is from 1 Kings 3:15-4:1.
If ever there was a man with a reason to despair, it was Joseph. After being sold into slavery by his own brothers, Joseph had to confront daily the seduction attempts by his master's wife. Joseph was able to resist temptation and hold on to his values. But what did he get in return? False allegations by the rejected wife and a lifelong prison sentence.
Then, he saw a small glimmer of hope. After successfully interpreting the dreams of Pharaoh's two imprisoned officials, Joseph was hopeful that the released and reinstated cupbearer would help him get out of prison. However, two years went by and Joseph was still sitting in a prison cell, abandoned, forgotten, and alone.
One day, however, everything changed. The Egyptian Pharaoh had a dream that no one could interpret. At that moment, the cupbearer remembered Joseph and mentioned him to Pharaoh. Joseph was brought before the Egyptian ruler and successfully interpreted his puzzling dreams, which foreshadowed seven years of abundance for the country followed by seven years of famine.
Based on this prediction, Joseph advised Pharaoh to save grain from the years of abundance for the coming lean years and recommended that he appoint a qualified person to oversee the operation. On the spot, Pharaoh decided that Joseph was the man for the job. As he bestowed this unbelievable honor and elevated position on Joseph, Pharaoh said, "Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you."
Wow! Talk about a meteoric rise to the top. Only God could have orchestrated such an amazing salvation. In a matter of minutes, Joseph was transformed from the lowest and most despised of men to the most powerful and influential person in the ancient world. Just moments before Joseph was called to Pharaoh, he could not have imagined ever leaving prison. Hours later, he was second-in-command of the greatest empire of his times!
Jewish sages have a saying that has encouraged us throughout 2,000 years of persecution and exile. It goes: "God's salvation can come in the blink of an eye." It doesn't matter how bad things seem, salvation is always possible. Everything can be turned around in just one second.
I recently spoke with a dear friend going through a very perilous episode in his life. When I remarked about his amazing capacity to live with such faith and grace, he shared the secret of his perseverance with me. He said: "Every day I tell myself that I just have to make it through this day because tomorrow God can make everything better. I tell myself this every single day." Just knowing that God's salvation can come at any second is life-giving, inspiring, and encouraging.
Friends, never give in to despair. Salvation can be just around the corner. Everything can change for the better "in the blink of an eye."
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President