Siblings, Get Along?
Why are the people closest to us, our siblings, often the hardest to get along with? In this week's Torah portion we learn of the brothers, Jacob and Esau, both sons of Isaac. Esau was so angry and jealous of Jacob that he wanted to do him terrible harm. While quarrels between siblings may be natural, we can strive to be super-natural and do our best to appreciate each other and get along.
In our story, a kid discovers that a brother is more than a bother.
Jack carefully looked both ways before darting out of his room. All was clear. He tiptoed down the hall and lightly pranced down the carpeted steps. He looked at his watch. His 'Friends-to-the-End' club meeting was starting in just a couple minutes and as club founder and president he certainly didn't want to be late.
The boy grabbed his green windbreaker off the coat rack and was about to dash out the door, when just what he hoped wouldn't happen, happened...
"Whereya goin, Jack?" his younger brother, Barry, called out from the kitchen.
"Somewhere," Jack grunted.
"To your meeting, right?" Barry asked.
"Maybe," Jack said, snarling. Barry had been hounding him for weeks about the club and he had hoped that this time he'd be able to escape the house unnoticed.
"I'm coming with you, okay?" Barry said, getting up and walking over to him, "I wanna join the club, too."
Jack stepped back. "No way! Do you hear me? No way!" His face flushed with anger.
"Why not? Some kids my age are in your club, like Ed and Steve."
"Ed and Steve are my friends. It's a friends club and you are nothing but my pesky, bratty, yucky brother! Now just forget about it and get lost - you're makin' me late!"
"But why not, Jack?" Barry said with a hurt look on his face. "Why can't I also..."
FWWWWUUUUDDDD! Before Barry finished his sentence, the door had slammed shut and his brother was long gone.
Sprinting to get to the meeting on time, Jack ducked into the old, empty wooden tool shed in the corner of his back yard that they used as a clubhouse, where the five other club members were already waiting.
"Okay," Jack huffed as he slid the lock closed, "first thing on today's agenda is to vote on what color to paint..."
"Hey, you forgot to read the official club creed to start the meeting," Mark, one of the club members, pointed out.
"Oh yeah, right," Jack said. "I just got a little distracted by ... never mind."
He pulled the wrinkled parchment-colored paper from its secret crack in the tool shed wall, cleared his throat and began to read:
"We the members, solemnly declare to stick together, thick and thin. All for one and one for all. To always remember and never forget we're ... we're ..." Jack hesitated.
"Hey, what's the matter?" Mark asked. "Something wrong with the paper?"
"Uh, no," Jack said, and read on. "...never forget that we're not just friends - because friends can end - we're more than friends, we're brothers!"
"Okay," Mark said, "now let's vote on that paint job."
"Um, just a minute, okay?" Jack said, slipping open the lock.
"Hey, where are you going?" Mark asked.
"Reading the creed helped me remembered something important I forgot back in the house," Jack said. "I'll be back in just a minute ... together with our newest member."
Q. How did Jack feel about letting his brother join the club at first?
A. He felt that since he was 'only' his brother, he couldn't join.
Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. He realized that a brother is just as important as a friend is - and even more so.
Q. What life-lesson do you think Jack learned that day?
A. He'd put down and not valued his brother, feeling that his friends were much more important. Then when he realized that he and his friends were striving to be as close as brothers, he felt his real brother to be much more valuable and worth getting along with.
Q. Who is closer to us, a friend or a sibling?
A. While both relationships are very valuable and important, there is a special 'blood' closeness that we have with our siblings, which even the closest friendships cannot match.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. If siblings are so close, why do they so often fight and not get along?
A. Part of it comes from the closeness itself. When people spend a lot of time together - and not only time they choose - it's very easy to get on each other's nerves. Also, due to the natural closeness of siblings and knowing that nothing can ever break the bond of being related, we can tend to take each other for granted and not treat each other as well as in less 'secure' relationships.
Q. What can we do to get along better with our siblings?
A. One big thing we can do is to simply take care to treat them with the same respect, courtesy and kindness as we would our friends or even a stranger.