Commentary on this week’s Parsha: Mikeitz
RABBI SHMUEL BLOCH
If you are, then you will remember that fateful day on the 14th May 1948 when David Ben Gurion proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel. Emotions were at fever pitch in Jewish communities around the world, especially as the destruction and desolation of the Holocaust was so fresh in people’s minds. People openly wept in the streets and their joy was palpable.
The day after Israel declared its independence, five Arab armies — Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon, and Iraq – invaded Israel. The situation looked dire and grim.
With the horrors of the Holocaust being so recent, the fear and terror of what would happen was beyond words. Yet, soon afterwards dread and panic turned into celebration and exultation. Israel, with its band of rag tag soldiers and Holocaust survivors comprehensively defeated its enemies.
War broke out again in 1956 and again in 1967.
On June 4 1967, Iraq joined the military alliance with Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. The Arab rhetoric was matched by the mobilization of Arab forces. Approximately 465,000 troops – more than 2,800 tanks, and 800 aircraft – surrounded Israel.
By this time, Israeli forces had been on alert for three weeks. The country could not remain fully mobilised indefinitely, nor could it allow its sea-lane through the Gulf of Aqaba to be interdicted. Israel had no choice but pre-emptive action. To do this successfully, Israel needed the element of surprise. Had it waited for an Arab invasion, Israel would have been at a potentially catastrophic disadvantage. On 5 June, the order was given to attack Egypt.
It took only three days for Israeli forces to defeat the Jordanian legion. On the morning of 7 June, the order was given to recapture the Old City. Israeli paratroopers stormed the city and secured it before Defence Minister Moshe Dayan arrived with Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin to formally mark the Jews’ return to their historic capital and their holiest site.
At the Western Wall, the IDF’s chaplain blew a Shofar to celebrate the event. After just six days of fighting, Israeli forces broke through the enemy lines and were in a position to march on Cairo, Damascus, and Amman. By this time, the principal objectives of capturing the Sinai and the Golan Heights had been accomplished, and Israeli political leaders had no desire to fight in the Arab capitals.
By the end of the Six Day War, Israel had conquered enough territory to more than triple the size of the area it controlled – from 8,000 to 26,000 square miles. The victory enabled Israel to unify Jerusalem. Israeli forces had also captured the Sinai, Golan Heights, Gaza Strip, and West Bank.
The world was stunned. Nobody could understand how Israel achieved such a thorough victory. Israel by all accounts should have lost this war in the most devastating way. Yet, nobody could deny the reality that Israel won in the most miraculous way.
Every person at some stage or another can tell a story where things looked bleak and yet they turned out well in the end. As Rabbi Zelig Pliskin states, people deal with demanding and arduous situations all the time. However, it is imperative to realize that in one moment, the entire picture can change instantly. Our sages coined a very beautiful phrase that encapsulates this idea. ”Yeshuos Hashem Kheref Ayin” which translates as “Hashem’s salvation can come in the blink of an eye.”
The history of the state of Israel proves this point and the same principle applies in our personal lives as well. In one moment, one’s entire situation can change forever. Such a reality is clearly evident from this week’s Parshah.
Joseph had been in prison for twelve long, hard years. One can only imagine the conditions he faced while in jail. Alone, far from his family Joseph had no idea when his prison sentence would end.
Nevertheless, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan in “Chofetz Chaim al Hatorah” notes that when the time came for Joseph to be freed from his captivity, he was freed with speed and haste. Hashem decreed that Joseph had to spend a certain amount of time being imprisoned. Yet, the moment the proper time arrived for his liberation, not a moment was lost. In a few moments Joseph went from dishonoured prisoner to Viceroy, second only to Pharaoh in power and prestige. Joseph’s state of affairs was transformed from despair to bliss almost instantly.
Despair is not a Jewish word.
Clarity that Hashem is always there and He loves us and wants what’s best for us pulsates through our genes and is the reason that we see extraordinary things happening in our own lives.
Become an astute observer of events around you and you will see this remarkable pattern occur again and again. Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan adds that when it is time that Moshiach will come, Hashem will not delay his arrival by even one second.
May this happen speedily in our days. Amen