Ki Teitzei

This week’s Parsha, Parshat Ki Teitzei includes the law of the inviolable right of the first born. Devarim, Deuteronomy Chapter 21 Lines 15 to 17 makes it very clear that under any circumstance the first born must receive their inheritance. There is just one problem. The prevailing trend that we see in the Torah with regard to the concept of inheritance is that the younger brother usurps the role of the eldest brother and sibling rivalry ensues.

Every set of brothers of the Jewish people is like this in the Torah. Yitzchak and Yishmael, Isaac and Ishmael. Yaakov and Esav, Jacaob and Esau. The tragedy of the problem of sibling rivalry reaches its crescendo in the next generation with story of Yosef, Joseph Yosef is the second youngest of his twelve brothers and yet he dreams of being the leader.

This conflict between Yosef and his brothers eventually leads to Yosef being sold into slavery. Perhaps slavery can be seen as a way of dealing with the challenge of sibling rivalry. Slavery is the utter brake down of the family unit. In a slave family parents are not in charge of their children, it is the slave master who is in control. The slave owner could brake up a slave family at any moment they wish. Perhaps by Yosef experiencing the destruction of family he would come to care about family.

This brake down of family would hopefully not only help Yosef to value family but to affect the entire nation to appreciate family. This would in turn help to heal the problem of sibling rivalry. Perhaps Yosef was supposed to be a microcosm of all of Israel.

However, it was not enough and eventually the nation of Israel is enslaved. This enslavement of the entire nation of Israel teaches the importance of family and deals with the dilema of sibling rivalry. In fact, there is a moment not long before the Exodus from Egypt that we realize that the problem of sibling rivalry has been healed.

When Aharone finds out that his brother Moshe is going to be the leader of Israel in spite of the fact that Moshe is younger.

In Exodus Chapter 4 Line 27 Aharone goes to meet his brother as Moshe returns to Egypt from Midyan, the two kiss making the statement that the problem of sibling rivalry has been healed, brothers now know how to get along.

This statement is made even stronger when the nation of Amalake battles with Israel. During the battle as Moshe looks on something interesting happens. According to Exodus Chapter 17 Line 11 and 12 when Moshe lifts up his arms Israel succeeds in the battle. When he lets his arms down Amalake prevails? Moshe’s arms become weak and he can no longer hold them up. Aharone and Hur Moshe and Aharones Brother-In-law help to support Moshe’s arms and the Jewish people are victorious over Amalake.

Focus on that image of Moshe and Aharone standing as one to help the Jewish people succeed, brothers not in rivalry but working together.

On a very general level, if you were part of the generation of people who went out of Egypt and journeyed in the desert to Israel would you automatically assume that Moshe was the leader? Perhaps not, you might even conclude that Aharone was the leader. He was the spokesman for Moshe; he was the Kohain Gadol, the High Priest. Maybe what we are really seeing in Moshe and Aharone is the first modeling of shared leadership in the Torah.

I would like to conclude with a Bracha, a Blessing and it is a Blessing that is really about the idea we have focused on. It is the Bracha that is given to children by parents on Shabbat evening. We say to our daughters that they should be like Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Layah, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Layah, the Eemahote, the Matriarchs of the Jewish People. We say to our sons that they should be like Ephraim and Menasheh. However, there is something strange about the Brachot.

If our daughters are supposed to be like Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Layah should not our sons be like Avraham, Yitzchak and Yacove, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the patriarchs of Judaism. The question is, whose Ephraim and Menasheh? Ephraim and Menasheh are the sons of Yosef, the Grandsons of Yacove. They are two generations away from the patriarchs and the matriarchs. Why is it off? As we have learned, almost every brother combination in the book of Genesis did not get along. Ephraim and Menasheh are the first two brothers who get along. By the way, some how, the women almost always got along.

Therefore, the Bracha that we are giving our children is get along with everyone in your own family. Get along with everyone in the family of the Jewish people. Get along with everyone in the family of humanity.