There is a famous statement that reverberates throughout Jewish society over the ages that states: "…what cannot be solved by wisdom, will eventually be solved by the passage of time." It seems that time is never neutral, and that its passage certainly influences decisions and events that take place in human society.
Our rabbis have commented that the miraculous deliverance of Joseph from his prison cell and his rise to power was, to a certain extent, due to the time that had passed, and with the heavenly intervention in human events. It suddenly became the time when Joseph should be set free and achieve greatness and dominion. That is why the Torah reading, with this unbelievable mysterious story, now begins to unfold after time has elapsed and when the correct moment for the divine will to be activated in human affairs.
In dealing with business and commerce, we are all aware of the axiom that “timing is everything.” Well, that is not only true in matters of finance and business but it also a basic axiom of life and of human history. What can be accomplished at a certain time becomes impossible to achieve either earlier or later. The examples regarding this truism are various and innumerable. It is the circumstances that the passage of time create that fashions the milieu in which events can take place, and individuals can rise to greatness or be defeated.
The timing of heaven and God's guidance in human affairs is always mysterious, inexplicable, and irrational to us ordinary mortals. However, in retrospect, one sees the perfection involved, and the exquisite nature of the timing that governs human events. King Solomon taught us in Kohelet that there is a time for everything to occur, and that everything has its time.
Among the many fallacies of human thought is the idea that we not only control the occurrence of events, but, somehow, we also have the power to decide when those events should take place. It should be obvious to all that we do not control time. In fact, unfortunately, we allow time to control us, our behavior, our schedules and even our goals. It never enters our minds that somehow time is really beyond the boundaries of our powers of control, and beyond even our most fervent wishes and desires.
In truth, most of our lives are almost predetermined: when we are born, and the circumstances of the present world in which we live. It takes a famine of epic proportions to propel Joseph to greatness, political stature, and governmental power. Heaven will use those times and circumstances to reunite the family of Jacob, and to begin the story of Jewish exile and redemption.
Everything that happens from then on, in the family of Jacob, will be a product of the times and the society in which they find themselves. They will go into exile on schedule and will also be redeemed at the right time. But being human, they will not all be aware of the schedule itself.
Rabbi Berel Wein