A ‘Your Mother’s Guidance’ post by Rebecca Masinter
Genesis 46:29 has the most tear-jerking scene of all time, the reunion of Jacob and Joseph. We all remember the story. Joseph harnessed his chariot and went up to meet his father, and when they met he threw himself upon his father’s neck. The verse says that Joseph wept very, very much, but it seems that Jacob remained dry-eyed. Why didn’t Jacob weep as well?
Rabbi S. R. Hirsch reminds us that Jacob had grieved and mourned for Joseph for many years while not doing anything else. He was all cried out. He had spent the last 22 years focused on the loss of Joseph – there weren’t other emotions that distracted him. All he had been doing was living with the loss of his son each and every day and he had processed that loss fully. From the day that he was sold into slavery, Joseph, on the other hand, had been living a busy and vibrant life. He had gone from being a servant to being second to the king—each day had been eventful and interesting and he really hadn’t had the time or space to feel the pain of separation from his father or to grieve it. Now, when he saw and hugged his father again, all those hidden emotions of 22 years came to the surface and overwhelmed him in a flood of tears. We see that in this verse, Jacob is called Israel. His personal pain had already been subsumed in his national role of Israel, but not Joseph’s. Joseph cries and cries as, for the first time, he deeply feels the grief of 22 years.
Isn’t that an incredible understanding? Isn’t this something to which we can all relate? Sometimes families go through difficult times, and truthfully, even a holiday or celebratory family event can be emotionally taxing on us and on young children. How often have we been so grateful to God that we’ve finally gotten over an intense period in our lives and can start relaxing, and right then, literally, our children start to fall apart?
Our verse explains exactly what is happening. Yes, a new baby, or a vacation, or something truly more difficult, takes a toll on us and on our children. But often, in the midst of the joy or crisis we all keep moving forward. We deal with the situation day by day and keep going and functioning because that’s what has to be. It’s only afterward, when life returns to normal, that our children can start to feel the emotions from that period, and sometimes those emotions are overwhelming.
As mothers, it can feel frustrating to have a child start going through a very difficult stage right when we are coming out of a time-consuming and emotional stage. I believe that it is important that we understand this natural and normal process so that we can be there to support our children fully instead of feeling resentful that they chose “this” moment to act up. Because, of course, they didn’t choose it, this is how God made them and how they are supposed to be. They feel the flood of emotions once they are safely able to, just like Joseph. If we change our mindset from thinking that we deserve a normal and easy life after a stormy period, to expecting the normal and natural fallout from our own and our children’s processing emotions that come after the challenge, we will be much happier and better able to support our own and our children’s healthy growth.