Parashat D'varim

My Killer, My Brother

The instruction not to provoke the descendants of Esav reminds us that despite strife, there is always potential for family members to reconcile.

Print this page Print this page

3. Does the adage "You can choose your friends, but you cannot choose your family" resonate with this midrash? How?

A Word

In times of great strife, when kinsmen become brothers in name only, origins of relationships offer the potential for a way back, when they once shared something in common. The Midrash is teaching that these origins were given, by God and cannot be removed by human design. No matter what outrage people perpetrate, they cannot abrogate the potential for reconciliation, because they were not the ones who created the relationship. It is this fact that humbles us and makes us see the world as a place that existed before us and will exist after us, and the darkest moments between peoples will give way to the memory of being kinsmen once upon a time.

As we explore the three weeks and the nine days that recall the destructions of the Jewish people, we are reminded that someday these will be days of rejoicing. And brothers who have become enemies will be brothers once again.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Rabbi Avi Weinstein

Rabbi Avi Weinstein is the Head of Jewish Studies at the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy in Kansas City.