The idea of love and devotion between siblings is at the core of our Torah. So much of the foundation of the Jewish religion begins in the home. We are taught that the place chosen for the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was selected based upon the following incident.
There were two brothers living in Jerusalem. One brother had a large family with so many of the needs and challenges associated with a sizable family. The other brother was a wealthy man, but he lived all alone.
These brothers were completely devoted to each other. They tried to think about each other’s needs and dignity. One evening, each brother devised a plan to help the other brother.
The wealthy single brother thought, “my brother has so many children and probably not enough food to put on his table. I will bring a large bundle of wheat to his doorstep, so that he will be well provided for.”
The brother with many children thought, “my brother has nothing but his wealth. I will bring a sizable bundle of wheat to him. At least this extra wealth will fill some of his loneliness.”
That night, each brother carried a bundle of wheat through the hills of Jerusalem. Each brother was committed to the needs and dignity of his brother.
In the middle of the night, they met each other, each carrying a large bundle of wheat. They were surprised and asked each other what the other was doing. When they realized how much they cared for each other, they embraced and cried tears of fulfillment and happiness.
God looked down from the Heavens and proclaimed. “The very spot where these two brothers met is where I want to have the Holy Temple built. It should be a place built upon brotherly love.”
Last week, we were on our way early in the morning to attend a family Bris. On the Garden State Parkway, one of our tires suddenly went flat. We called for emergency road service and a Garden State Parkway certified tow truck arrived to tow us off the toll road.
The tow truck driver was surprised that we had been waiting for a while and that none of our “brothers” had stopped to help us. He told us that he has witnessed the most incredible acts of kindness in the many years that he has serviced this road. He has seen “brothers” helping change tires, administer CPR, haul cargo and even pray at the side of road for their brethren in need.
It is about siblings helping siblings.
As a parent, I now understand how significant it is to feel that our children help each other. That must be how G-d felt when He saw the brothers hauling the bundles of wheat and what He hopes for us, as His children.
Several years ago, we took Aaron and Davida on vacation to Florida. Aaron’s good friend, Mo, came along. Every day, we tried to plan activities that everyone would enjoy. One day, we decided to visit the Everglades to combine crocodile sighting with fishing.
On the way to the Everglades, we stopped at a rest area to ask for directions. The boys saw some crocodiles in a swamp near the rest area and they saw two men fishing in the swamp. They were mesmerized and asked if we could just stay and watch.
When we got closer, we noticed that the two men were fishing in separate parts of the swamp, but seemed to know each other. One was using word cues to help the other from afar.
The boys approached the men so see if they had caught any fish. They struck up conversation with the two men and ended up fishing with them most of the day. They learned so much in those hours about fishing, and most importantly, about love between brothers. The older man told this story and this has stayed with us as the paradigm of love between brothers.
About a year before, the younger brother had suddenly gone blind. He became depressed and withdrawn and felt so isolated by his new blindness. The older fisherman, his older brother, tried to encourage him, but nothing seemed to pull his blind brother out of this deep depression.
After much thought, the older brother offered to take his blind brother fishing, one of their favorite pastimes when they were younger. The blind man protested, explaining that it would be so difficult for him to set up and use the rod without the ability to see. He couldn’t possibly imagine how he could reel in the fish if he caught anything. The older brother insisted that he would help him and the two set out to their favorite fishing spot.
The older brother set up his younger brother in the best spot near this fishing pond and helped set up a bucket nearby. He stood at his brother’s side, placing the bait and straightening the rod when necessary. He gently encouraged, prodded and helped his brother and they successfully caught enough fish for dinner that evening.
The younger brother felt great about being able to fish.
The older brother was delighted that he had found a pastime that his brother could enjoy and ultimately master.
The two men returned to this fishing spot among crocodiles almost every day since. The older brother would work this fishing time around his work and family schedule. The two brothers shared so much over this love of fishing.
As the younger brother gained confidence, the older bother moved to a fishing spot farther and farther away, always making sure to give his blind brother the best fishing spot. He kept a close eye on him throughout their fishing time, making sure that no crocodile came too close. He helped in reel in fish, but most importantly, he helped him rebuild his self-esteem through fishing.
That day, we all experienced more than just a fishing lesson. It was truly about the devotion of brothers.
May our homes be founded upon this type of love and devotion. May the merit of love and caring for each other earn us all a Ksiva Vechasima Tova and a happy and healthy New Year.