click here to jump to start of article
  • Torah Reading: Naso
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

Vayigash(Genesis 44:18-47:27)

Live Life

When Jacob and his family arrived in Egypt, Joseph brought Jacob, his father, to meet Pharaoh. The first words Pharaoh said to Jacob were:

"How many are the days of the years of your life?" (Genesis 47:8)


Of all the things that Pharaoh could ask Jacob, why did he first want to know how old Jacob was? Or did he?

Pharaoh didn't really care to know Jacob's chronological age. Rather, Pharaoh wanted to know how many days that Jacob actually felt alive in his life. Just how many days were there where Jacob lived life to its fullest? It was these days that would actually determine the years of his life.

People often confuse activity with accomplishment. We can be busy all day long, but how much was actually accomplished? And it gets even worse. What if someone spent the entire day watching television and eating ice cream? Would that really be a day that could be counted as a fulfilling day in our lives? Of course not.

Sadly, many of us are watching television and eating ice cream in our own way. God gave each of us a unique and special talent that He wants us to use. Living each day as though it might be your last is a true day in your life.

A task will contract or expand depending on how much time we're given. People will inevitably wait until the last minute to finish most anything. Whether it's packing for a trip, buying gifts, or completing a project, we all seem to take as much time as we've been given. On Friday night, minutes before the Sabbath begins, Jews around the world are rushing to complete their Sabbath preparations. It doesn't matter whether it's winter and the Sabbath arrives at 4:00 or the summer time when it arrives at 8:00, everyone always uses all the time they've been allotted.

Similarly, any personal goals in our life will also contract or expand depending on just how much time we have for it. And since most goals are ones which we want to accomplish during our lifetime, then in theory you have your entire life to achieve them. This is why most people never scratch the surface of their potential. Sadly, the world is full of elderly people in their rocking chairs looking back on a life gone by who are still waiting for the perfect time to begin their goals and live their dreams.

And this is exactly what Pharaoh was asking Jacob. He wanted to know how many days there were that Jacob actually lived. Pharaoh knew Jacob was such a wise and revered man, so he wanted to know just how many days it was that Jacob was able to fight his instinctive urge to put off working toward his goals and aspirations and actually live each day like it might be his last.

Since a task will contract or expand depending upon the time we've been given for its accomplishment, then you can see it's vital to begin right now to live all the days... of your life.

December 31, 2005

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.

Visitor Comments: 12

(12) Anonymous, January 4, 2017 9:26 AM

Excellent article and very well written! Thanks for posting!

(11) Anonymous, December 16, 2015 1:40 PM

Great article! Thanks for posting!

(10) Shlomon, December 8, 2013 5:28 AM


A Life Accomplished is the total fulfilment of set goals. Every second in life should be attached with something positive. We need to be up and doing when it comes to achieving a goal.

(9) Christoph1945, June 17, 2013 8:34 AM

Did Jacob miss the point of Pharoh's question?

Where there days when Jacob was living with eyes wide shut? Why did he not see the growing storms for his beloved son Joseph? As one who has sleep walked through most of his life, I found this thread most thought provoking and helpful.

(8) Anonymous, December 22, 2012 6:04 PM


your website is most useful

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment