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Don’t fake, communicate!

Thursday, 22 December, 2016 - 11:21 am


We all know people who we have disagreements with; whether it is different opinions theologically, religiously or politically. It is important to be honest about your views and how you think. You should not fake like you agree when you disagree.  At the same time, we need to keep the lines of communication open.

When we see people as “the other,” different than us, our communication breaks down and we can never resolve any conflict. If we refuse to have a civil conversation, we are unable to resolve differences. If we cannot extend social greetings, e.g. “good morning,” to one another, or be in a room together, we are doomed to make the same mistakes as our ancestors.

The verse in the Parsha tells us: “His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, so they hated him, and could not speak with him peaceably.”

The story is about Yosef’s brothers being jealous that Yosef was the favored son. Many of us see this in the simple view of sibling rivalry and petty jealousy. In truth, it was a real ideological debate about the future of the Jewish people, similar to the differences between opposing sides of a political or religious debate.

What does it mean “they could not speak with him peaceably” and what does this mean for us?

Rashi explains it simply as they were not duplicitous or two-faced; their “heart and mind” were in sync with each other. Another explanation given is that they could not even debate respectfully. A third commentator says that they could not speak to him at all, so there was no chance at peace.

Now take a moment and imagine if they were communicating and followed the formula of don’t fake, communicate. Maybe the brothers would have been able to share with Yosef how the extra love their father is showering upon him causes them pain. Perhaps Yosef would have been able to share how he feels all alone.

When you see someone you disagree with, try sitting down with them, share with them your thoughts and feelings, use “I” statements and slowly but surely the differences will dissipate, and love will fill that space.

Have a great Shabbos and a fabulous Chanukah.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

P.S. Let us know if you need a menorah or candles we have a few :)


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