Monday, January 25, 2010

On Family Relationships

Everyone living can attest to the the highly complex relationship among siblings and between parents and their children. Siblings, despite having the same parents and living in the same home, are not clones of each other. Even identical twins, while physically the same, need not have identical outlooks and personalities.

Some siblings appear to be quite close to each other; no one has ever seen or heard a bad or nasty word pass between them. Some siblings are in the main quite close to each other but have been known to disagree with each other or argue with each other or even fight with each other over specific items. Some siblings seem to have nothing in common with each other as far as personality or outlook goes but they share a loyalty to the family that is theirs; they can fight with each other but heaven help the outsider who tries to do that. And a few siblings seem to have no kesher, no liking and no interest in protecting the family as a whole--if their siblings fell off the earth that would suit them fine. These siblings form a dysfunctional family.

The various divisions of Klal Yisroel are siblings, whether some of them like the fact or not. We share the same "parentage." Our Father has told us and told us "Kol Yisroel areivim zeh lo'zeh." Yes, well. As in any other very large family, there are going to be smaller groups of siblings who find more in common with each other, who react better, who get along better with each other than they necessarily do with all the others. But regardless of how they may align themselves they cannot abrogate the fact that they have a common parentage, that they are members of the same family. The problem arises when one such group of siblings has decided that it is the only legitimate sibling grouping and tries to put down or get rid of all the other siblings. Such a group is trying to be an only child when the facts don't support the contention. Such a group believes that they are their parents' favorites. Such a group believes that it is their right to rule over all the other siblings.

Now imagine the chaos when two groups of siblings, or three or more groups of those siblings, each have decided that they are "King of the Mountain" and all the others better buckle down and do what they say. Time and effort that could be spent in strengthening the family is wasted on internecine warfare. When such groups badmouth each other to outsiders they destroy the fabric of family life. Instead of protecting and defending their siblings they cheer when trouble finds these siblings.

Klal Yisroel is B"H too large to assume that every single brother or sister will have a close, loving relationship with every other brother or sister. But what is possible and is not being seen is that every brother and sister in Klal will fight to protect the right to life of all the other siblings. These siblings don't have to adore each other; what they have to do is recognize their kinship and obligation to protect the family unit.

Shalom should be possible even when siblings don't like each other's practices. Shalom recognizes that there is mutual benefit in all siblings remaining well, even if they can't live together under one roof. There are enough enemies of Klal Yisroel out there who would rejoice in our downfall. Must we give them fodder for their evil intentions? There is real truth to the saying "United we stand, divided we fall." It's more than time to leave the childish squabbling to little kiddies and start acting like the grownups we're supposed to be. No, I don't love all my brothers and sisters in Klal equally, but I sure don't want them facing down the barrel of a shotgun. I wish I could say with certainty that that is not what they want for me.


Moshe said...

There's a lot of childish behavior among ALL the groups but there are serious adult consequences. Someone from a group way to the right of where I am seriously told me that God approves of his way of life more than of mine. When I asked how he knows this he kind of smirked and said that God had told him so by blessing his way of life. Great! Now we have groups who think that God talks directly to them and to no one else.

Yeah, dysfunctional family covers it pretty well.

Rae said...

Sounds great on paper but has it ever been that all the groups of Klal had achdus? Look into Chumash and you'll see some really strange family relationships. Not saying I wouldn't love it if everybody was live and let live, but we haven't exactly got a history that supports this idea.