Commentary on Parashat Vayechi, Genesis 47:28 - 50:26
We’ve all been offended at one time or another by the words or actions of a family member. Parents, children, spouses and siblings do end up hurting each other, willfully or unintentionally. It is never too early to begin to learn to forgive.By taking ourselves less seriously, it becomes easier to forgive another. When it comes to family, the ability to forgive is crucial. Family is permanent, and having the strength to forgive is rewarding for all.
This week’s Torah portion gives a very clear message on the importance of family forgiveness. In the portion we are reminded that, years earlier, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and told their father that Joseph had been killed. Jacob, Joseph’s father, was devastated, and Joseph became a slave in Egypt before ultimately rising to extreme power.Wisely, and exceptionally, Joseph does forgive all his brothers for their malicious act, realizing that he and his brothers share a common identity and future that should not be jeopardized by grudges, even if they seem justified. Jacob also forgives all his sons for their cruel deception. This is a powerful Torah story with a very relevant message for life today.
The need to forgive and, if possible, forget, is vitally important. Calmly confront wrongdoers and explain what they have done as a step toward reconciliation, not increased hostility. Parents easily forgive their children for slights given intentionally or by accident. How parents treat their extended family members also gives important messages. Parental modeling of forgiveness is an important learning tool for children. Forgiveness is an ability that is within our power, especially in family situations.
TALK TO YOUR KIDS about the importance of family relationships in their lives forever.
CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:
· What sometimes makes us angry at each other?
· Why is holding a grudge ultimately useless?
· Why is family very important to each of us?
· What tools can we learn to reduce our pain at family hurts and insults?
From “Values and Ethics: Torah Topics for Today,” available from Behrman House Publishers.
Pronunced: TORE-uh, Origin: Hebrew, the Five Books of Moses.