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Daily manna from the Torah by Dr Ketriel Blad

VaYeshev 9-1

And (he) settled

Genesis 37:1-11

His brothers said to him, "Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?" So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

Gen. 37:8 ESV

Why so much struggle between siblings?

Children are a reflection of their parents. All the good and the bad are transmitted from parents to their children. This transmission is biological, psychological and spiritual. Genes, attitudes and spirit from their parents are passed on to the offspring. That is why this parashah – division (of the Torah) – starts by saying: “This is the generational history of Jacob: Yosef...”  In the children, we can find the history of their parents. 

The attitudes and relationship between the mothers of the twelve children of Israel are reflected among their children, albeit in an increased manner. There was great rivalry between Rachel and Leah and even the names they called their children reflect this struggle for power. It was in this environment of competition and eagerness to prove who was stronger that these children were raised.

Besides, Yaakov’s preference towards Rachel and Yosef caused jealousy and envy among the others. Tension within the family was strong. It is obvious that polygamy is not recommended even if it was allowed by the Torah.

When parents see faults in their children they shouldn’t blame them for it, but check their own lives and ask the Eternal for forgiveness for those things that displease Him that they passed on to their children. If parents become free from these shortcomings in their attitudes and behaviour, children will be more able to be set free from these things, especially if they keep a close relationship with their parents.

We don’t know Yosef’s motivation for telling the others his dreams – if he did it because of that spirit of constant competition that was upon them all, or if it was simply because his dreams, which came from heaven, had such an impact on him that he had to tell someone. By the way, in case he was influenced by this spirit of rivalry and competition too, he evidently became free from it before having Menashe and Ephraim, who are two of the best examples of people that are in peace with each other in spite of the younger having been placed over the older one (48:14). That is why every Shabbat the father lays his hands on his sons and says the following blessing for them: Yesimchah Elohim ke-Ephraim ve-chi-Mnasheh. –ישמך אלהים כאפרים וכמנשה  – May the Almighty make you as Ephraim and Menasheh.” (48:20). Yosef managed to break the spirit of competition and struggle that existed between his siblings and that is reflected in his own children.

In spite of these struggle, jealousies and hatreds between these siblings, the Eternal was able to fulfill His purpose for this family. Yes, and He even used precisely this situation to fulfill His divine purpose and because of this cruel situation in Yosef’s family, he was taken to Egypt in order to become the saviour of the world and of Israel.

The Eternal is great enough to use the effects of our yetser harah – bad inclination – to fulfill His will on earth. Baruch Hu u-varuch Shemo! – "Blessed be He and blessed be His name"

May the Eternal help us pass on only what pleases Him to our children.

Shavua tov,


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