Ketz - the end

Insights into “Word Concepts” in Torah for the Torah Portion of Mikeitz, Genesis 41:1–44:17

Moshe Kempinski

Judaism Torah reading
Torah reading
צילום: PR

The Torah portion of Miketz begins with the following description;

"It came to pass at the End( Mi-Ketz)  of two full years, that Pharaoh was dreaming, and behold, he was standing by the Nile."(Genesis 41:1).

What makes this verse unusual, is the use of the word Mi-Ketz . In the context of this verse it is more  literally translated as "from the End ( Ketz)". The Torah could have easily described the event in the following way " And Pharaoh was dreaming" , yet the Torah clearly and purposefully uses the word ketz ,to teach a lesson.

We see the word ketz used throughout Tanach as a declaration of an ultimate ending. The angel reveals to Daniel the following declaration;

“And he said, "Go, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the ketz-End.”(Daniel 12:9)


Yet at other times the word ketz-End to describe an interim point in the midst of the progression of the plan;

Of every finite thing I have seen the ketz-End; Your commandments are very broad. (Psalms 119:96)

At times the term is used as a declaration of destruction and finality;

An end ( ketz)  has come; Coming is the ketz-End, it has awakened        ( Hai-Keetz)  against you; behold, it comes.(Ezekiel: 7:6)

We see it used as well as a sign of cleansing.

"And some of the wise will stumble to clarify some of them and to select and to cleanse until the time of the ketz-End, for there is yet until the time appointed.".(Daniel 11:35)

How then we can we comprehend the inner meaning of this word-concept? Is it an ending or actually a new beginning? Unserstand this may help us to  begin to understand its use in this Torah portion.

Many years earlier Abraham was given a promise;

"And He said to Abram, "You shall surely know that your seed will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and they will enslave them and oppress them, for four hundred years.And also the nation that they will serve will I judge, and afterwards they will go forth with great possessions."( Genesis 15:13-14)

Yosef ( Joseph)  in the midst his own travails was actually being used as a catalyst to propel the people of Israel into this unfolding destiny. After two years of languishing in prison hoping that his mortal efforts and request of the wine steward would achieve his redemption, something begins to change.

“It came to pass( Vayehi Miketz)  at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh was dreaming, and behold, he was standing by the Nile." (Genesis 41:1).

At that point everything hurled forward into destiny.

“So Pharaoh sent and called Yosef(Joseph) , and they rushed him from the dungeon, and he shaved and changed his clothes, and he [then] came to Pharaoh."(ibid:14)

These dreams of Pharaoh seemed to bring about  an appointed and designated time for the next phase of Hashem’s plan to proceed.

Yet there is a nother understanding of the word, ketz that  is revealed in another verse in this Torah portion.

“And the cows of ugly appearance and lean of flesh devoured the seven cows that were of handsome appearance and healthy; then Pharaoh awoke.(VaYikatz). " (ibid:4)”

Perhaps the truer understanding of the word is actually rooted in the concept of AWAKENING... more so then ENDING

We see that same use of the word in Ezekiel as well

“An end-ketz end has come; Coming is the ketz , it has awakened( Hai-Keetz)  against you; behold, it comes.”(Ezekiel 7:6)

At the "time of the ketz “, events occur around us in such a way that it awakens us to the possibilities of a new dawn and a new beginning.

This helps us understand the teaching of our sages;

Rav said, “All the dates of redemption (ha-ketzin) have already passed, and now it depends upon repentance and good deeds.” (Sanhedrin 97b)

Hashem has created many moments in time that could have been seen as the ketz. He has allowed for many opportunities for a deeper Awakening. Yet the key ingredient that changes an interim moment into the pivotal points is the ability to be aware and to acknowledge that AWAKENING moment.

Hashem is weaving a tapestry. That tapestry includes threads of danger and hope, fear and courage. They are all woven together in what seems to be jumble. Moments of Geula- Redemption mingled with events of seeming regression and pain all woven together . It is incumbent on us to make the connections that weave that tapestry into existence.

As we become awakened to that reality we move swiftly to the ultimate Awakening.

LeRefuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved and Yehudit bat Chaya Esther