“It came to pass at the ketz (end) of two full years. . .”

-Mikeitz 41:1

This verse introduces the story of how Joseph was freed from prison, the ketz (end) to his confinement.

Joseph’s confinement was only physical, not spiritual. Even in jail, he retained, and was mindful of, his spiritual heritage-the teachings of his father. This heritage was his light with which he overcame the darkness of prison. It filled him with hope, joy and delight. The constraints of prison did not fetter him. It was but a temporary confinement, and immediately upon his release he rose to rule over all of Egypt.

The prison-house of Joseph, “a place where the king’s prisoners are bound,” is an allusion to this world into which the souls of Israel-the “children of G‑d”-are made to descend, to become vested in finite bodies in order to observe Torah and mitzvot. The analogy with a prison is noted especially during the time of the galut (exile).

Thus, we must remember Joseph and the events of his life. We must realize that the very idea of confinement is alien to us, because Jewish life is essentially unrestricted. The present era of constraints is undoubtedly only temporary. It is merely a step toward the ultimate goal of illuminating the world, even in its present state of lowliness and galut, with the light of Torah and mitzvot. The fulfillment of this mission will be followed immediately by the final redemption of Moshiach.