Saturday, December 25, 2010

Brothers At Last

Brothers. Big brother. Little brother. Marx brothers. Jonas brothers. Parker brothers. Ringling brothers. Mario brothers. Smith brothers (cough cough).
Brothers can have a close terrific relationship that enables them to do great things, or they can have an angry unhappy one that lingers their entire life.
Today, Jews throughout the world began reading the Book of Exodus, the second book of the Bible. Exodus is the story of the miracles that G-d performed for the Jewish people in Egypt, and then their freedom from bondage.
Exodus is also the story of two brothers. Their names were Moshe and Aharon (Moses and Aaron).
My husband, Israel, noted today at the Shabbat table that the book of Genesis is replete with stories about brothers: Cain and Abel; Ishmael and Isaac; Esau and Jacob; Joseph and his brothers. However, all these stories are filled with hatred and jealousy. Cain killed Abel. Ishmael shot arrow at Isaac. Esau swore to kill Jacob on the day their father died. And Joseph's brothers wanted to kill him, but threw him in a pit instead and then sold him as a slave.
Hatred and jealousy - the seeds and the reality of Sinat Chinam (free-hatred), a characteristic that has plagued the Jewish people since....always. It is the characteristic that brought about the destruction of our Holy Temple.
Well, last week we closed the book of Genesis for this year (of course, we open it again every fall - Simchat Torah to be exact - as a constant reminder of the evils of Sinat Chinam and its terrible consequences). And this week, we turned a new page on the book of Exodus.
Here we encounter two brothers once again.
Aharon - the leader of the Jewish people in Egypt, the man to whom all Jews came for guidance and help.
Moshe - a humble shepherd whose goodness and caring were qualifications that caused G-d to appoint him the new leader of the Jewish people.
This scenario could surely have caused the jealousy and even hatred that unfortunately were such a prominent part of our ancestors' past. In fact, when G-d calls Moshe at the burning bush and commands him to go to Egypt, Moshe is reluctant. "Send whom you would send." My brother Aharon has always been the leader of the Jewish people, send him. If I take that leadership away from him, he'll be jealous of me. Don't choose me.
But G-d insists, Your brother Aharon"is coming forth toward you, and when he sees you, he will rejoice in his heart." Wow, could it be? Here we see a new set of brothers, two men who epitomized what brothers really are.
Moshe was reluctant to take away the leadership of his brother Aharon. And Aharon was glad in his heart that his younger brother would be given this mantle of leadership.
And what was the result of this relationship - a Dynamic Duo. A real Dynamic Duo who spoke to G-d, who represented Him to Pharoah and to the Jewish nation. Brothers who shared the burdens of leadership and who succeeded in remaining united until the end.
When we look at an example of brothers today, we must look at the "don't"s of the book of Genesis and look to the "do"s of Exodus. Unity, overflowing brotherly love, cooperation and selflessness were the characteristics that caused the success of the Moshe and Aharon partnership.
And it helped bring redemption.
These characteristics are still what we need in brothers - in our own homes and in Klal Yisrael (the entire nation of Israel) - brotherly love.
We have seen its results. It brought the redemption from Egypt and it can bring the ultimate redemption.
May we see it in our day.


  1. Lovely post. Was there any other Biblical brother pair that worked together without fighting?

  2. Good question. A pair of brothers who didn't compete or hate one another? Besides Moshe and Aharon the only brotherly duo I can think of is Joseph and Benjamin. But they didn't do anything together that I know of more than weep on each other's shoulder about the destruction of the Temples. If anyone can think of another pair, please post it.