There are very few people that I would rather spend time with than my daughters, whether by birth or marriage. It also gives my husband and me unimaginable pleasure when the next-generation siblings enjoy being together. So, when one of them asked if I would give a “Daughters’ pre-Passover Class,” in spite of everyone’s hectic calendars, and despite the three different time zones we occupy spanning a seven-hour time difference, I quickly said, “Yes.”
My girls stipulated that they weren’t interested in a “How to make your home technically kosher for Passover,” session, since they absorbed that with mother’s milk (and hours spent scrubbing), but rather a Bible study that would provide food for thought and spiritual nourishment over the coming busy month. I would like to share with you one Bible thought that I shared with them.
As any parent, spouse, teacher or employer knows, it is easy to fall into the trap of noticing problems. It takes effort to focus on when things are going right. My husband will definitely hear about the time he arrived at the table late to dinner, but many fewer words will greet his being at the table when expected. Without drawing a comparison between spouses and children, a child who interrupts a business call with nagging and whining is impossible to ignore. A child playing quietly during a business call may produce a sigh of relief, and even a “you were great,” but the reaction will most likely be less animated than if they misbehaved.
We are well aware of the sibling issues that arose in an extreme fashion with Cain and Abel. Role models they are not. Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau may have done slightly better, but they were by no means successes. The official children of Israel begin when all twelve sons of Jacob followed the same path in relationship to God, but we would be hard-pressed to call the interpersonal relationships among them a triumph. Selling Joseph was an obvious flaw, but in a recent class I took, the teacher pointed out that Benjamin is kept outside the circle as well. Note Judah’s plea to the Egyptian ruler (unbeknownst to the brothers, actually Joseph) not to imprison Benjamin. It goes on for 18 verses, depicting a grieving father who loves his son. What doesn’t come up at all? Judah never says, “He’s our brother. We cannot leave him behind because we love him. We brothers stand together.” His concern is for his father, Jacob, not for Benjamin.
What is the first example we have of siblings who went out of their way to ignore opportunities for anger, resentment and jealousy? Aaron, Miriam and Moses. Miriam watched over her baby brother when his basket was floated on the Nile (Exodus 2); Moses depended on Aaron (Exodus 7); Aaron was filled with joy when his brother was elevated over himself (Exodus 4). Both Moses and Aaron showed concern for Miriam (Numbers 12). There are numerous other examples of caring.
Because we do not see Miriam and her brothers fighting or resenting each other, it is easy to conclude that there was no reason for them to do so. A little thought lets us realize that this isn’t so. Each of the opportunities above and many more could have led to rifts and fractures. Perhaps in our own lives we make the terrible mistake of stewing in resentment, choosing negative emotions, and lacking forgivingness for those we should love.
Family is central to Passover as are friends and community. But when thinking of family, we often focus on parents and children, ancestors and descendants. Let’s take time to recognize the gift we have if we are fortunate enough to have siblings. After all, it was through a triumvirate of siblings that God led His people at the time of the Exodus.
What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this Susan’s Musings post.
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