by Rabbi Yisrael Kaniel – March 25, 2016
After Joseph’s being exiled to a foreign land, enslaved, falsely accused of a crime and imprisoned, we read (Bereshit 41:14), “And Pharaoh sent and summoned Joseph, and they rushed him from the dungeon.” Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, had a disturbing dream that could only be interpreted by Joseph and, subsequently, redeemed Joseph from all his travails – with great haste. In a matter of hours, Joseph was no longer the poor unfortunate exiled young slave and prisoner in a foreign country. He became virtual ruler over that entire country, second only to its king. The entire matter of Joseph’s redemption was “rushed.”
Joseph’s redemption was, then, a precursor to a later more widespread and magnificent redemption of all the descendants of his father Jacob, also known as Israel, a redemption that is celebrated to this very day by Jews the world over during the holiday of Pesach (Passover). After Joseph passed away, the country that was saved at his hands turned on his family, its descendants and the descendants of his brothers, engaging them in forced hard labor. For many years, the cruel enslavement of Jacob’s descendants continued with no solution in sight, until one day. One day, a special descendant of Jacob had an amazing encounter with G-d Himself and hastily, in virtually “no time,” the long enslaved Children of Israel are rushed out of Egypt. We read (Sh’mot 12:33), “And Egypt imposed itself strongly upon the people to hasten to send them out of the land.” In the end, again, the entire matter of redeeming the Children of Israel was hastened.
In Matzmiach Yeshuot, a work written some 100 years ago by R. Menachem Mendel Ravitzky, the author suggests that the aforementioned verse and the related narrative regarding Joseph’s sudden redemption can teach us a very important lesson. Similarly, this lesson can be reinforced by the narrative surrounding the redemption of the Children of Israel from Egypt. Upon reading of Joseph’s rushed redemption, reinforced by the hastened redemption of the nation of Israel, we are reminded of a statement found often in Jewish literature that, consequently, takes on a very real and palpable meaning – “Yeshuat HaShem k’heref ayin” (the salvation of G-d arrives in the blink of an eye).
No matter how much misfortune the Jewish nation may experience, no matter how much calamity or hardships the Jewish people may encounter, when the time is right, as long as we remain stalwart in our loyalty to G-d and our heritage, as did Joseph and our earliest ancestors, redemption from all our sorrow can be swift, whereby, in one relatively swift motion, all our past anguish can be a distant memory, as Joseph’s enslavement and imprisonment in Egypt and as our ancestors’ former enslavement at the hands of the Egyptians.
When we celebrate during this holiday of Pesach, we should not treat it as but a commemoration of what once was. We should, rather, consider the events surrounding Pesach as a message of what one day will yet be. When G-d so decides, all of the hardships, calamities and persecution experienced by the Jewish people, can be but a distant memory, wiped away suddenly in one swift motion – “in the blink of an eye.” Redemption can be swift. We must, however, stay close to G-d and follow His wishes. Then, as He did before to Joseph and our ancestors, He will one day do for the Jewish people again. May that day come speedily, when G-d will send His messenger, the messiah, to finally redeem His people and bring them their final salvation. May it happen speedily in our time.