Brothers

I have three sons and two daughters. Raising these children involved mostly hard work, some frustration, and a lot of happiness. The most frustrating thing about raising my children was their negative interactions with each other.

When they played together, it was wonderful. They would devise all sorts of games and construct all sorts of structures that were creative and entertaining. They would build “marble machines” that were towers where one could put in a marble and it would roll through the structure turning in different directions and finally appear in a totally unexpected place, making the maximum amount of noise on the way down. The children would put on shows and do singing acts. They would race the pet mice in cars built of legos. They would prepare food treats and once made a whole party complete with a piñata they had worked on without any adult help.

But all was not idyllic. As in every family, there were children with different temperaments and personalities and sometimes they clashed. There were two who clashed more than other combinations. I remember wondering if they would ever be able to be friends. I used to say to them, “How will there ever be peace in the world if you can’t even get along with your brother?” One told me he was going to live in Israel when he grew up. The other responded that he was going to live in Alaska. I asked him, “Why Alaska?” He said, “Because it’s the farthest I can be from him where they still speak English.”

But as they grew, the differences seemed to mean less to them and they became friends. When one, and then the other got married, I had tears in my eyes, watching each of them truly happy for the other.

And this shabbat, both will be in the States in advance of a business conference they will be attending. They have left their wives and combined dozen children here in Israel and they will be spending shabbat at the home of one’s in-laws. And just the thought of it brings tears to my eyes once again. How very sweet and pleasant it is to see brothers dwelling together!

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