This week’s email is dedicated to my father in honor of his 70th Birthday celebrated this week, with wishes for long life, good health and nachas from all his children and grandchildren!
The bond between parent and child is profound and unique. When children are young, a parent experiences intense physical love for their child.
When children grow into young’uns the intense love may evolve into appreciation for the uniqueness of the child; their smarts, their talents, etc.
When they are teenagers…well, it reminds me of the line from Rabbi Bernhard from South Africa; “when children are young all you want to do is eat them, and when they are teenagers you wonder why you didn’t”. But I digress…
When they become young adults the nature of the relationship changes. They’re not evoking the kind of mushy intense feeling any longer, hopefully we accept them for who they become, we’re relieved that they and we have survived the teenage years and we kind of evolve into a groove in our relationships – groovy.
Like fine aged wine, the relationship takes on a different dimension. The parent steps back and sees in his child an extension of self. We see our good qualities and sadly some of our not so good qualities manifest in our children.
Inevitably when you have many children some children manifest those qualities stronger than the other children. And while that does not diminish the love the parent may have for the other children, often times there is a stronger bond between that parent and certain children.
It can be the child who demands more attention from the parent is the one who has a stronger bond. After all the parent invested more into that child, and thus the “return on investment” may be more realized with that child.
These are some of the reasons why Jacob had a particular soft spot for Joseph. For starters, Jacob’s investment into Laban’s flock was to marry Rachel. It was only when Laban tricked him that he ended up marrying Leah and in turn giving rise to the birth of the 12 tribes.
Joseph was also one of the youngest of the Tribes and the little ones take a special place in the father’s heart.
But spiritually and on a physical level, Jacob and Joseph shared a common bond. Joseph’s life’s journey followed a similar path as his fathers. His brothers hated him as Esau hated Jacob. Esau wanted to kill Jacob as Joseph’s brothers wanted to do to him.
We know that Joseph was a good looking fellow. Our Sages say that Joseph physical appearance was identical to his father’s. Special bonds are created in this fashion as well.
At the end of the day, the relationship between parent and child is not only one of pride, but it fortifies the child with the tools needed to withstand life’s challenges and to succeed.
It is to this end that we also read in this week’s portion of the seduction of Potiphar’s wife and Joseph’s ability to withstand the temptation by envisioning his father’s image.
The moral of these stories, is to treasure the relationships with our children, and realize the gift that a parents love and pride provides for the child. A good parent has the ability to find within each and every child how the child represents their best qualities. Finding those similarities empowers the parent to truly treasure each child and convey that to the child. This in turn fortifies the child to be secure with who they are and accomplish great things!
With blessing for a wonderful Shabbos.