Parashat Vayeishev: An unimagined peace
Shalom Bayit – Peace in the home
Genesis captures the complexity of family dynamics –
The links and rifts that make their way through the generations.
Children struggle or thrive – because of or in spite of …
Everyone competes for love,
Feeling victorious or defeated
Even the seemingly oblivious.
“Israel loved Joseph more than all of his sons…” (Genesis 37:3).
Perhaps Ecclesiastes is right that
“there is nothing new under the sun (1:9)
We become lost in the stories we spin
At some point we leave our parents’ homes,
Taking our stories with us.
Whatever their hopes for us as a family,
Our parents ultimately depart this world
Bequeathing us unfinished family work
To repair rifts,
Build or rebuild trust,
But this is the child’s avodat ha-kodesh –sacred family work.
To reconcile with our siblings.
“[Joseph’s] brothers saw that their father loved him
more than all his brothers so they hated him”
A hate so deep that
“they could not speak with him peacefully” (37:3-4).
Yet the brothers ultimately build peace
out of the rubble of past deeds, as did Jacob and Esau.
These paradigms for reconciliation capture
the fear and pain of our secrets and conflicts,
Revealing that even estranged siblings
live in relationship with one another.
Will we choose to seek ways to infuse love into
the wreckage caused by fear, hate and envy?
Or make peace in the ways we can?
If not with the other, then with ourselves
An imperfect peace is better than no peace.
Though there is no “How to” manual,
We can discover resources from within to help us
Fill the cracks of what is broken,
Build something – anything – from the remains.
Joseph’s dreams caused trouble with his brothers
But his dreaming and ability to interpret dreams also
saved his family and our people
He taught us that while a dream may not be realized in our lifetime
Believing in the possibility of its fulfillment
can save and heal us in ways unimagined.
Choosing to travel toward this beacon of promise
Frees us to live our lives with forgiveness, hope and love.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Urim Sameach (Happy Festival of Lights )
Nina J. Mizrahi, Community Rabbi