Time is Everything

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Miketz Time Passing

“Father Time is undefeated.” – Charles Barkley

In Egypt, Joseph becomes a master dream interpreter. All of his interpretations share one feature. Each dream has an element that represents that passage of time. Prof. Leon Kass argues that this is the thing that catapulted Joseph to prominence.

Egypt was obsessed with beating time. Mummification was a process designed to preserve the body eternally. Besting time. Irrigation via the Nile meant there was no rainy season or dry seasons. Water was always available. Besting time again. The Pharaoh was presumed to be a god. Pharaoh could live forever. Besting time once again. The Egyptians worshiped the sun. The sun is static and there is nothing different about today’s sun than yesterday’s or tomorrow.

Time was Egypt’s blind spot. Joseph saw time and used it to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh’s staff and Pharaoh himself. But Joseph had come a long way. Perhaps the reason he shared his dreams with his brothers before it was appropriate was because he too was insensitive to the passing of time. He wanted it all, right now. That’s why he told his dreams to his brothers immediately. This led to his demise.

The Egyptian way of thinking about time puts humans above nature. It puts humans on the same level as God. But we should not be seeking ways to delude ourselves into superhuman existence. We should be acknowledging the limitations of time and making the most of our time.

Joseph must have learned this lesson while sitting in jail. Time is all you have when you are imprisoned. But after interpreting the dreams of the baker and the butler, Joseph regressed. He asked the butler to remember him andw spring him from jail right away. Joseph learns patience and the value of time while he waits for 2 years until he is summoned to the Pharaoh.

Perhaps this explains why the very first commandment given to the Israelites after their flight from Egypt was to sanctify the new moon and follow the lunar calendar. The moon waxes and wanes. It is inescapable that time is inescapable. We are to follow the lesson of the moon and use time to change.

In order to become better, we must believe in time.

Rabbi Eliyahu Fink is the founder of shulontheinternet.com.
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