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Living on “Borrowed Time”

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When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile . . . — Genesis 41:1

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.

A young child was riding in a car with his mother when they entered a tunnel. The child had never been in a tunnel before, and he was frightened as the tunnel grew dark. The mother suggested that the boy keep his eye on the beginning of the tunnel, but soon that light faded away. “That’s OK,” said his mother. “Now you look toward the end of the tunnel, and you will see with the light that is coming up ahead.”

The title of this week’s portion, and the Hebrew word used in the opening phrase, is mikeitz. While this word is generally translated as “At the end of . . .,” it literally means “from the end of . . .” It makes far more sense to write: “At the end of two years, Pharaoh had a dream”; however, Scripture literally reads: “From the end of two years, Pharaoh had a dream.” As always, this particular choice of words contains a profound message for our lives.

Sometimes, in order to get to the end, you have to borrow from the end.

Joseph was going through a tough time in his life. He had spent 12 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Even after Pharaoh’s cupbearer had promised to put in a good word for him and get Joseph out of prison, it had been two years and the promise hadn’t been fulfilled. How did Joseph persevere? How did he remain hopeful, his spirit unbroken?

The answer is that Joseph looked beyond the present darkness to the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. He focused on the freedom that he knew would come one day and not on his present predicament. Joseph got his strength from the end of his journey. He borrowed joy from the day that his prison sentence would be lifted. He borrowed peace from the day that his tribulation would be over.

Friends, our current situation in life is not our final destination in life. No matter what challenge we may be facing today, it will come to an end one day. Sometimes in order to make it to the end, we need to borrow from the light at the end. If it is challenging raising small children, we need to envision the kind and competent adults that they will become in the end. If we are going through a debilitating illness, we need to picture the wellbeing that we will experience once we are healed. If we are in lean times, we have to hold on to the promise of an abundant future.

When we borrow from the end, we will make it all the way to the end – with peace, faith, and joy.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President

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