Relinquishing Worries

Which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? If you cannot do even that little thing, why do you worry about other matters?

Jacob refusing to deliver Benjamin. Painting by Théophile Vauchelet, 1829, Paris, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (Wikimedia Commons)


Regular Shabbat Readings

Read / Listen to these Portions

  • Miketz (מקץ | From the end)
  • Torah: Genesis 41:1-44:17
  • Haftarah: Zechariah 2:14-4:7
  • Gospel: Luke 24:13-29

Note: The regular readings are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. Refer to the annual Torah Portion schedule for these special portions.

Portion Outline

  • Torah
    • Genesis 41:1 | Joseph Interprets Pharaoh's Dream
    • Genesis 41:37 | Joseph's Rise to Power
    • Genesis 42:1 | Joseph's Brothers Go to Egypt
    • Genesis 42:26 | Joseph's Brothers Return to Canaan
    • Genesis 43:1 | The Brothers Come Again, Bringing Benjamin
    • Genesis 44:1 | Joseph Detains Benjamin
  • Prophets
    • Zec 2:14 | Interlude: An Appeal to the Exiles
    • Zec 3:1 | Fourth Vision: Joshuahua and Satan
    • Zec 4:1 | Fifth Vision: The Lampstand and Olive Trees

Portion Summary

The tenth reading from the book of Genesis is named Miketz (מקץ), which means "the end." The title comes from the first verse of the reading, which says, "Now it happened at the end of two full years that Pharaoh had a dream" (Genesis 41:1). The portion begins with Pharaoh's portentous dreams, Joseph's interpretations and his subsequent rise to power over Egypt. When a famine strikes the land of Canaan, his brothers come to Egypt seeking grain, but they do not recognize Joseph, who engineers a means by which he can test their character.

The brothers told Jacob that they needed to take Benjamin to Egypt if they were to buy more grain and liberate Simeon. However, Jacob was unwilling to risk Benjamin. Joseph had engineered Benjamin's trip to Egypt in order to test his brothers' hearts. Ironically, it proved to be a test of Jacob's heart as well. "All these things are against me," he bemoaned (Genesis 42:36).

Having already suffered the loss of both his wife Rachel and his son Joseph, Jacob could not imagine losing Benjamin. Jacob declared that without Benjamin his life would not be worth living. He would die of grief. Benjamin was a non-negotiable.

Their father Jacob said to them, "You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and you would take Benjamin; all these things are against me." (Genesis 42:36)

Having already suffered the loss of both his wife Rachel and his son Joseph, Jacob could not imagine losing Benjamin. Jacob declared that without Benjamin his life would not be worth living. He would die of grief. Benjamin was a non-negotiable.

If we examine our own hearts, we will find that there are many things that we are unwilling to let go. We all have certain things that are non-negotiable to us. They may be material things, like jobs or possessions, or they may be relationships or they may be loved ones. For parents, it is our children that we continually fret over. The walk of faith demands that we entrust even these non-negotiable things to God and that we learn to rely on Him alone. Sometimes God will ask such things of us simply to teach us to trust Him better. Even if we lose this precious thing, regardless of what it might be, we will still have our Father in heaven. Ultimately, all things are in His hands. When we relinquish our non-negotiables to God, we experience the freedom, confidence and joy that come from really trusting in Him. We can live without the gnawing agony of fear and worry, because we are no longer trying to retain control.

It's not easy to just quit worrying. Jacob was terribly worried about allowing Benjamin to go to Egypt, but in order to save the family from starvation (not to mention liberate Simeon), he had no other choice. According to Rashi, after Jacob had done all that he could by providing his sons with gifts to bring to Egypt, he said, "Now you lack nothing but prayer. I will pray for you." In the text of the Torah, he prays, "May God Almighty grant you compassion in the sight of the man, so that he will release to you your other brother and Benjamin" (Genesis 43:14). When we have done all that we can do, we should do like Jacob and convert our worries into prayers.

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