Weekly Torah Portion

Jacob lived his last 17 years in Egypt. The sages say that they were his best 17 years. (Tov, the Hebrew term for “good,” has the numerical value of 17.) Jacob was a spiritually refined person, who had spent years studying Torah in the Land of Israel (then still called Canaan), the holiest place on earth. Yet his best years were in Egypt, a land of decadence, idolatry and moral depravity. How could that be?

The old saying goes, “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Jacob did not want to go to Egypt. But once he was there, he made the best of it. He sent his son, Judah, to establish a yeshivah where Torah would be studied, ensuring that his children and grandchildren would retain the beliefs and ways of Abraham. And Israel flourished.

When we truly want, even sour lemons can be a delicious thirst-quenching drink, and even Egypt can be good.

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