Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26 )
Ever get the feeling that you're in just a tad over your head? Several summers ago on a sweltering July afternoon, our family and countless pieces of luggage were packed into an airport shuttle en route to JFK where we were slated to fly to Israel in celebration of my 40th birthday. Lo and behold, as our driver careened around the entry ramp to the George Washington Bridge, the van came to a sudden halt. The van was dead.
While the driver radioed in for help, explaining that "we need a jump," pandemonium was slowly unfolding. The stalled van was stationed in a location begging for a collision. The now, non-air conditioned car was quickly becoming unbearable for the younger ones. The older ones, well, they looked somewhat panic-stricken wondering if we really "needed to jump." [They weren't familiar with the notion of "jumping" a car and interpreted the driver's jargon as a call for us to "jump" off the bridge.] My wife gave me that look that says, "You've got a plan, right?" While I tried to exude confidence, I was internally in Mayday Mode secretly hoping "my Mommy would somehow make this all better!"
Without any other alternative in sight, we offered a prayer to God and I made my way from the ramp towards toll booth security. And that's when a 15-person, air conditioned, airport shuttle pulled over in front of our motley crew and asked, "Are you okay? Could you use a lift?" Sent via the Divine Dispatcher, Levi the Shuttle Driver just happened to be returning from the Catskills en route to Queens and was oh-so-happy to offer us a lift to JFK.
In a total state of disbelief, we alighted all the kids and our 52 pieces of luggage and were on our way. We arrived safely at our gate in plenty of time for boarding.
God possesses an endless number of exit strategies out of an endless number of predicaments. Had I explained to my wife, "Let's just be calm. Hang out for a bit. Probably someone with an empty van en route to Queens will stop off and offer us a ride to the airport. Can you pass me some popcorn?" I probably would have failed miserably in the pro-active, resourceful husband department. That solution was simply out of the question and way beyond the boundary of reasonable possibility.
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"Yaakov said to Yosef, 'I did not imagine seeing your face, and here God has shown me even your offspring!'" [48:11] [Rashi: It did not enter my mind (lit., my heart did not fill me) to consider the thought that I would see your face again.]
As we navigate the scenarios life sends our way, we envision an array of outcomes. Some end-results are predictable. Others anticipated. Some are remote and others downright incredible.
As Jews, the privilege of 24-7 access to the Infinite essentially renders the "impossible" obsolete. Indeed, it should seemingly be erased from our dictionaries and our mindset. There is no relationship that cannot be salvaged. There is no bill that cannot get paid. There is no applicant that cannot find employment. There is no soul that cannot find their bashert. God can find a way. He's that Good and that Resourceful.
In a similar vein, upon hearing devastating news about the prognosis of a loved one's health, an observant Jewish family inquired of their physician, "How long does he have to live?" To which the doctor responded, "With you people, you never know."
As we close the book of Genesis, we share that sinking feeling that things will get worse for the Jewish Nation before they get better. Be it the national exile or a personal predicament, our job is to never lose hopefulness. When God is in the equation, there is simply no limit to the number of exit strategies. There is no mission impossible.