Miketz: In the Twinkling of an Eye

Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph and they rushed him out of the dungeon; he shaved himself and changed his clothes and came to Pharaoh. (Bereishit 41:14).

Joseph stands outside
inhaling sweet night air,
the balmy breeze flits lightly on his face.

Last night a ragged captive
lying listlessly alone
gazing at the moon through iron bars

today, released with baffling speed,
arrayed in fine attire,
he is ushered in to stand before the king.

A free man now, he sleeps tonight
honoured and at ease:
the Grand Vizier of the land of Egypt.

God’s salvation – manifest
in the twinkling of an eye.


The Sforno says that the word “vayeritsuhu” – and they rushed him, tells us that Divine salvation always comes hastily, speedily.
In his book, Biblical Literacy: The Most Important People, Events, and Ideas of the Hebrew Bible, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin says that in Midrashic parlance there is an expression which has provided solace to suffering Jews for thousands of years: “Salvation can come in the twinkling of an eye.” Nowhere is this more evident than in Joseph’s story: he goes to bed one night as he has done for the last two years, as a falsely accused prisoner in an Egyptian dungeon, and the next night he goes to sleep as the Grand Vizier of Egypt.
The Chafetz Chaim* says on the same phrase that when the appointed time arrives, God does not tarry for even a moment: Joseph’s time as a prisoner was up so he was taken immediately out of the jail. In the same way, he says, when the time comes to usher in the Messianic age, nothing will delay it…

*Rabbi Israel Meir HaCohen Kagan (1838-1933) is commonly known as the “Chafetz Chaim,” the name of his famous work on guarding one’s tongue. As his reputation grew, students from all over Europe flocked to him and by 1869 his house became known as the Radin Yeshiva. The Chafetz Chaim published twenty one books. His first work, Sefer Chafetz Chaim (1873), is the first attempt to organize and clarify the laws regarding Lashon Hara. Other notable works include the Sefer Shmirat HaLashon, an ethical work on the importance of guarding one’s tongue and the Mishnah Berurah (1894-1907) which is a commentary on the Orach Chayim; the first section of the Shulchan Aruch and has been accepted universally among Ashkenazi Jews as an authoritative source of Halacha.

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