Vayeshev: Not seeing, not hearing

And when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of his brothers, they hated him so they could not speak a friendly word to him. (Bereishit 37:4)

When your eyes were fixed on Joseph –
resplendent in his cloak,
did you not see his brothers
smoldering with rage?
When you heard him tell his visions,
recount his rainbow dreams
did you ever hear his brothers
express a friendly word?

If you had called your children
to sit around the table,
to look each other in the eye
and speak their truth aloud,
you might have seen the pent-up fury,
reddened cheeks and flashing eyes,
you might have heard a diatribe
of censure and complaint.

When all the bitter words were spent,
antipathy assuaged,
you might have seen a softening,
heard nascent harmony.

On the phrase, “and they hated him and they could not speak a friendly word to him…” the Tiferet Yehonatan* comments, “But, if only they would have sat together, they would have spoken each to the other (lit. to his brother) and they would have reprimanded each other and reconciled. The trouble in every rift is that there is no common language and no listening ear…”

Haim Ginot was a child psychologist who specialized in parent education and authored the book Between Parent and Child. His work, however, also became famous through two mothers who attended his parenting group. Elaine Mazlish and Adele Faber transmitted his teachings though workshops which they held for other parents and which became the basis for their best-selling books How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk, and others. During these workshops, the parents clamoured for help dealing with sibling rivalry so this became the focus for a new series of workshops and a separate book entitled Siblings Without Rivalry. In this book, they tell of a mother of two daughters who reports her feeling that her introverted older daughter dislikes her younger sister although she has never voiced this to her parents. One day, the younger child falls asleep and the mother gives her the opportunity to share her feelings. The older child then pours out all her hateful feelings towards her sister. The mother is quite shocked by the intensity of her daughter’s antipathy to her sister, but she manages to receive her daughter’s emotions and hear what she is saying. Later that night, the mother finds the two girls asleep together and for the first time, the older girl has her arms around her little sister. Mazlish and Faber point out what the Tiferet Yonatan was teaching almost three hundred years earlier, that siblings need to have their feelings about each other acknowledged and they need guidance in discharging angry feelings acceptably.

*Rabbi Yehonatan Eybeschutz (1690 – 1764) was a Talmudist, Halachist and Kabbalist, holding positions as Dayan of Prague, and later as Rabbi of the “Three Communities”. He was a prolific author. Tiferet Yehonatan is his work on the weekly Torah portion
His father was the rabbi in Ivančice Moravia and the young boy was a child prodigy in Talmud; on his father’s death, he continued studying in yeshiva. Rabbi Yehonatan Eybeschutz settled in Prague in 1715 and became head of the yeshivah and a famous preacher. In Prague, Eybeschütz received permission to print the Talmud – but with the omission of all passages contradicting the principles of Christianity.
He was an acknowledged genius in at least three separate areas of Jewish religious creativity: Talmud and Jewish law (halakhah); homiletics (derush) and popular preaching; and Kabbalah. He was famous for both his erudition as well as his charisma. He is known for being the other protagonist in the Emden-Eybeschutz controversy in which Rabbi Emden suspected R’ Eybeschütz of being a secret Sabbatean and denounced him as a heretic. The majority of the rabbis in Poland, Moravia, and Bohemia, as well as the leaders of the Three Communities supported Rabbi Eybeschütz, considering the accusations levelled against him by Rabbi Emden as “utterly incredible.”
Thirty of his works in the area of Halacha (Jewish law) have been published. In addition, several of his works on homiletics, teaching methodology, and Kabbalah are currently in print. It is interesting to note that only one of his works was published in his lifetime. The posthumous printing of so many of his works is testimony to his influence on his contemporaries through his oral teachings and his personality. It is claimed that he also published numerous Sabbatean works anonymously.

**Haim G. Ginott (1922–1973) was an Israeli-born school teacher, child psychologist, psychotherapist and parent educator. He pioneered techniques for conversing with children. His book, Between Parent and Child, which is still popular today aimed to give “specific advice derived from basic communication principles that will guide parents in living with children in mutual respect and dignity.”


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