Family Reunion

Friday, 19 November, 2021 - 7:30 am

Yesterday we welcomed our son Levi into the Covenant of Abraham.  It was wonderful to have so many friends and family present at the bris.

Most special was the tremendous effort by my nonagenarian grandparents to attend their great-grandson’s circumcision. Traveling from New York, their presence was the biggest present we could get.

In case you haven’t noticed, we value family quite a bit – lots of it!

This reminds me of the famous quip of George Burns. He jested that happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family – in another city.

If action speaks louder than words – we couldn’t disagree more heartily!


In this week’s parsha of Vayishlach, we read of a unique family reunion between Yaakov (Jacob) and Eisav (Esau).  The last time the two were in the same town, Eisav threatened to kill Yaakov, who promptly fled the country. Since then, they had been incommunicado for over 34 years.

Nonetheless, Yaakov made the great effort for reconciliation – even though severe risks were at play. In fact, Eisav was charging toward him and his young family with 400 armed men. Most of us would have turned to plan B at that point. But Yaakov continued forward (with a three-pronged strategy of sending gifts, prayer and preparation for warfare).

Why was Yaakov so eager to meet up with his brother who sought to murder him? When, exactly, is it time to call it quits and move on? Many of us might consider a relative to be a rotten apple; is that cause for severing the relationship?


When Yaakov and Eisav finally do meet, “Eisav ran toward him and embraced him, and he fell on his neck and kissed him.” The Sages debate the sincerity of this kiss, but it certainly trumps the other possible outcomes.

Following this encounter, Yaakov and Eisav part ways, with Yaakov heading to the city of Shechem (Nablus). The Torah relates, “Yaakov arrived, whole, in the city of Shechem.”

This is the only instance that Yaakov is referred to as whole or complete. The Rabbis explain that this was a direct result of the brotherly encounter.  Though it may not have been as successful as anticipated – nor as disastrous as conceivable – it was an undertaking of tremendous virtue.

Yaakov had already built a beautiful family, a business empire and a solid spiritual reputation. But, he was only considered whole after meeting up with his estranged brother, and leaving on decent terms.

We may have our own independent successes, but if we cannot muster the resolve and sacrifice to mend our fractured family we cannot fix a broken world.

Comments on: Family Reunion

Leon Rogson wrote...

Your festivities yesterday were heart warming, and wonderful. Your magnificent family already had our respect, which we can now expand to your larger family. It was touching to hear your grandfather read prayers of welcome to his great grandchild, and I hope you 'Shep Naches' from your new boy, and all the rest of your great family.
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