Parashat Vaieshev

This Parashah tells us the story of 12 brothers, the sons of Yaakov, who make up the 12 tribes of Israel. But, how is it possible that with their great spiritual and moral level, they conspired their macabre plan to get rid of one of their brothers, Yosef, by throwing him into a pit full of snakes and scorpions? To understand the answer let us look at the first verses of this Parashah:

“And Israel loved Yosef more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age”…. “And his brothers noticed that their father loved him more than the others, and they could not speak to him in peace”. Apparently, the hatred of Yosef’s brothers was unleashed as a consequence of Yaakov’s love for him, more than for his other sons, and it was not for less, since Yosef was Yaakov’s son with Rachel, a woman that Yaakov truly loved, but his deceitful father-in-law Laban had deceived him by giving him Leah on the nuptial night. Nevertheless, the question arises: Was Yaakov right to show more love for a particular son, to the point of generating hatred between them? The Talmud, in the Tractate of Shabbat (page 10, page 2) teaches us that from what happened with Yaakov and his sons we have to learn that a Father should not differentiate between his children. This, at first glance, makes sense, at least in theory, but how do we do when we really feel more affection for one son, father, brother, grandfather, more than another, should we withhold our feelings or hide them? Rav Noach Wainberg, of blessed memory, brings an example: Imagine a father arguing with his son: You are driving me crazy. When are you going to grow up and do something productive with your life? Here’s what the father would like his son to respond: Thanks a lot Dad, I needed to hear that. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your words, I really will try to do something with my life. The father thinks that reprimanding him will improve his behavior. What a mistake! Instead, his son will say something like this: Even if you were the last man on earth I wouldn’t listen to you! What’s going on here? The father just wants to help his son; he wants to be close to him and guide him. The son also wants to be close to him. They love and need each other, but they are making a serious mistake in the way they are building that relationship. Our lives are full of mistakes. Sometimes, we think we will feel better if we hurt someone who hurt us. However, in doing so, we achieve nothing and end up feeling much worse. There are different explanations as to why there are certain fathers and mothers who do not show signs of affection to their sons and daughters, here are some of them:

Lack of parental self-esteem: having a negative view of yourself and being unable to value yourself can make it difficult to show love to other people, in this case, to your children. In addition, children are often a great source of frustration for parents. Perception of children as a burden: considering that the process of raising children and babies entails many responsibilities and a heavy workload, causes parents to neglect these responsibilities or not to meet all their needs, such as affection. Similar family history: often, when parents do not show affection it is because during their childhood they did not receive affection or affection from their parents either, so this relationship pattern tends to be repeated from generation to generation if there is no awareness of this problem and a willingness to change. Problematic behaviors in children: they may affect the way they relate to their parents, with a lack of affection in some cases. May Hashem’s wish be that we may continue to grow and educate those around us in a healthy way.