Vayeshev — Genesis 37:1-40:23, The Parashat Hashavua for Saturday, December 1, 2018

One of the great challenges of being a parent is not picking favorites. Each child is unique, with special virtues and their own particular weaknesses. It is tempting to have a favorite but this week’s Torah portion teaches us that this is not good for the family, and so we read, “when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of his brothers, they hated him.” (Genesis 37:4) Jacob does not see Joseph for who he is, but as a reflection of his beloved late wife, Rachel. And Jacob’s  brothers cannot see him as their brother, because he is their father’s favorite. Their vision is distorted by their hatred, they cannot see him as a person, so they sell him into slavery plunging their family into a deep crisis from which it never recovers. Just as a parent must do their best to see each of their children as a human being, so we must learn to see every person as a human being. We must make sure our vision of others is not distorted by prejudice or hatred. When we do, terrible things can happen.