Growing Through Forgiveness

Miketz: A resource for families.

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Reprinted with permission from Torah Topics for Today.

All families experience strife at one point or another. There might be a distancing of siblings, a child angry at a parent, or a parent angry at a child. It's important that we move past this angry distancing toward reconciliation.

In this Torah portion Joseph takes revenge on his brothers for throwing him into a pit and selling him into slavery. No wonder. His pain was sufficient to make anyone want to take revenge. When his brothers travel to Egypt to obtain grain for their family in the face of a famine, the brothers have no idea that the powerful man who stands before them dispensing grain is none other than Joseph himself.

apologiesJoseph takes advantage of his secret identity and throws Judah into jail and then threatens to enslave Benjamin. Judah, however, in our next portion, courageously approaches Joseph. He makes it clear that, if he and his brothers don’t return home with Benjamin his father will be grievously hurt. Joseph is overcome with emotion. "I am your brother Joseph" he says, "he whom you sold into Egypt." With that Joseph and his brothers have an emotional reconciliation--Joseph weeps and embraces his brothers.

Judah's courage in approaching Joseph allowed Joseph to move away from revenge toward reconciliation. That powerful but simple caring gesture reached underneath Joseph's rage and led him to reveal his identity. We like Judah can approach the other, and like Joseph we can forgive when our anger has cooled down.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about Joseph's forgiveness of his brothers, overcoming his hurt and anger.  

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:
·    Is it hard to approach another family member after a fight?
·    What could make it easier?  
·    Why do you think it's important to forgive?

© Copyright 2010 Joyce and Fred Claar

Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses

Dianne Cohler-Esses is the first Syrian Jewish woman to be ordained as a rabbi. She was ordained in 1995 at the Jewish Theological Seminary. She is currently a freelance educator and writer, teaching and writing about a wide range of Jewish subjects. She lives in New York City with her journalist husband and their three children.