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Miketz: Waking at the End of Days

“And it was at the end (miketz) of two years of days and Pharaoh dreamt, and behold he was standing on the river”.

The simple meaning of miketz is “at the end”. But there is a strong hint here pointing to the continuation of the verses: “Vayikatz (same root as miketz, ‘in the end’) Par’o, “and  Pharaoh awakened.” Pharaoh awakens from sleep. The days also wake, awaken from sleep. In other words, the additional two years that Joseph spent in the darkness of the Egyptian dungeon were like a night of long sleep – in which the Minister of Drink also forgot Joseph. In Hebrew, the word for ‘forgot’, shachach, shares the same letters with the word for ‘darkness’, choshech. And behold, we succeed in waking up, in reaching the end of days.

Whatever happens to Joseph the Tzaddik happens to the Nation of Israel as a whole. At the beginning, we are in the exile that is likened to night and deep sleep. Until the end of the exile arrives and the light of the redemption shines.

In Hebrew, there are two different verbs for “awaken”. Lehakitz and lehitorer. Lehakitz means to awaken naturally. The sleep has reached its end and we wake up as a matter of course, at the proper time. Lehitorer means to awaken with some sort of prod. Something happens to prod us awake and we do not wait for the natural end of sleep.

There is something special about waking up naturally, lehakitz, from the exile, for it is a full awakening. From within ourselves and by ourselves, we reach a state of wakefulness and alertness. We have expressed everything possible out of the exile as if it were a ripened fruit (which is picked in the kayitz, the summer). There is also something special about wakening with an external prod, lehitorer,  from the exile, for it is a feeling of heavenly awakening. God is knocking, waking us up, as in the Song of Songs, “The voice of my beloved is knocking”.

Which form of wakening is preferable? The best is to connect the two. Not to wait till the ketz, the end, but to awaken (lehitorer) now to the redemption. But we must awaken with the internal recognition that we have reached the katzeh, the end, and we absolutely must have Mashiach.

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