We need to get our act together - Big Time

Thoughts on the brother thing in the Book of B'reishit

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Phil Chernofsky,

"With These Hands"
"With These Hands"
Nefesh B'Nefesh

The deeds of the fathers are signposts for the children. That's not just our Forefathers and Foremothers (actually, it is three fathers and four mothers - a little humor).

We can look to the next generation - that of Yosef and his brothers, a.k.a. Shivtei Kah, and see plenty of Maasei Avot there to learn from. And, as we wrote a number of weeks ago (and in the more distant past), the lessons that we should learn come in two main flavors: Learn to emulate the deeds of the Avot... or learn NOT to do as they did. If we can handle both types of lessons, we should be in good shape. Most of the sons of Yaakov were born in Parshat Vayeitzei.

Threw Vayishlach, we were dealing mostly with Yaakov Avinu, but some of the Sh'vatim went into action there, as well. From Vayeishev, with the early problems between the brothers and Yosef, through Mikeitz and Vayigash, and into Vaychi - to finish the Book of B'reishit, we are presented with different aspects of the tension and friction between brothers. And none of that was really good. Reuven was credited with attempting to save Yosef, but he failed.

Yehuda, we are taught, could have saved Yosef because of his strong influence on his brothers, but he didn't. Yehuda finally takes the bull by the horns (there's a pun intended there, since Yosef is identified with the bull), and fights for Binyamin, at great risk to himself (and the other brothers). The encounter between Yehuda and Yosef breaks Yosef and he reveals himself to his brothers. There is a reconciliation and reunion, but it is flawed.

After Yaakov dies, the brothers greatly fear Yosef and never really feel safe from their imagined and deserved revenge from Yosef. But let's jump ahead. Ever notice that the original alignment of the brothers against Yosef - that of the sons of Leah against the sons of Rachel, gets changed big time in a later period of Jewish History.

The split on the kingdom sees Yosef (via Efrayim), from Rachel, join with most of the Tribes from Leah against the Kingdom of Yehuda (son of Leah) who is joined by Binyamin (from Rachel). No big analysis here; just a point: There are many splits within the Jewish People and which side one is on is not the main point.

The main point is that there are splits. Religious & non-religious, Dati Leumi & Chareidi, Ashkenazi and S'faradi, Chasidim & Mitnagdim, this Yeshiva and that Yeshiva, this Chasidic sect and that Chasidic sect, the followers of the Rebbe's nephew & the followers of his son-in-law within the same Chasidic sect... and on and on. We do not need to homogenize all of Klal Yisrael, but we need to work on the differences without violence, without animosity, and realize that unified Klal Yisrael is our key to success against our enemies and in bringing the Geula Sh'leima BIMHEIRA B'YAMEINU AMEN.


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