There is Nothing Like Family by Eve Levy
We all had our moments with our siblings growing up. I definitely did! I think it’s quite normal. We loved them and hated them. At times, we felt we couldn’t live without them, and the next moment we wished they were never born. Sound familiar?
My own two sons, ages 8 and 11, are constantly bickering. “Enough is enough!” I yell like a mad woman. “One day you’ll realize how lucky you are to have each other.” But today, they cannot understand that. They stare at me like I’ve gone mad. Right now, they are not mature enough to see my point, but maybe one day they will understand and love one another. I’m hopeful.
The last few Torah portions have recounted the dramatic story of the 12 sons of Jacob.
In a nutshell, the story goes something like this:
Growing up, 10 of the sons of Jacob took issue with their second-to-youngest brother, Joseph, who claimed to have prophetic dreams of being a king over them. The brothers very rashly kidnapped Joseph and sold him as a slave to Egypt. For the next 20 years, Joseph remained loyal to his faith and morals. He earned the trust of all who were around him, and through his ability to interpret dreams and his vision of how to create a massive reserve for the upcoming famine, became viceroy of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh.
The story continues:
During the famine, Joseph’s brothers went down to Egypt to buy food for their families. Joseph recognized his brothers and accused them of spying. He gave them one way out: bring Benjamin, the youngest brother, to him. Reluctantly, the brothers brought Benjamin down to Egypt. Joseph had a scheme to recreate the same circumstance of his own sale for his brothers. He had his famous goblet planted in Benjamin’s luggage and had him accused of theft. The brothers were faced with a dilemma: stick together and back Benjamin or leave their brother to live (or die) with the consequences. Judah stepped forward and promised not to abandon Benjamin.
Now, after the emotionally draining saga, Joseph finally reveals himself to his brothers, showing them he holds no ill for what they did to him so many years earlier. “It was not you who brought me here, but G-d, so that I may be the sustainer of all mankind.”
The story of Joseph and his brothers is a story of maturity. When they sold him into slavery, they were terribly wrong and unfair. The damage they caused was immeasurable! Joseph had every right to hold a grudge, but he overcame his pain. When he saw that Judah was ready to stand with Benjamin, Joseph was able to see how his brothers had matured and grown as men, willing to sacrifice their own comforts and future for family.
The story of Joseph and his brothers is one of forgiveness and apology.
The story of Joseph and his brothers is one of commitment to family, come what may. A normal dose of sibling rivalry is normal. But, at some point, we all need to grow up and mature and realize just how much family matters.
If there is an issue between us and a sibling, parent or child, it pays to talk it through with someone and resolve it sooner rather than later.
Joseph taught us that we can grow above the pain caused by our siblings. He taught us that when we allow G-d into our world we are able to see how the worst incidents can actually be good, but that can only come through forgiveness.
Judah taught us that we never give up on family. Our commitment to our family must always be strong. The Jewish people are our extended family. We need to put our differences aside, and stand with our family through good times and bad.
There is truly nothing like family.
Eve Levy is a JWRP City Leader from Portland Kollel