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    Why do families fight – Lech L’cha

    boxingA sad side of the story we read this Shabbat is the quarrel between Abraham and Lot.

    Though tied by bonds of kinship and love (Rashi says that they even looked alike), they fell out and were separated by suspicion and tension.

    It’s all very well for Abraham to say, “Don’t let there be a quarrel between us since we are brothers” (Gen. 12:7), but surely something had to be agreed between them to make sure that they would live in harmony from then on.

    One of the key factors was status and property. Which one would hold superior rank (can two riders ride on the same horse)? How would they ensure that neither would suffer from the material ambitions of the other? Did the interests of peace require them each to blur their own individuality and personality?

    We all know (and some have experienced) the divisions that erupt between relatives. I can tell countless stories from my own rabbinic career. Relatives – and in-laws – who stopped speaking to each other because of jealousy, money or whatever. Family members who had to be seated at different ends of a wedding hall…

    I wish there could be one simple formula to ensure that such things would not occur and if they did, could be easily smoothed over.

    But it’s never as simple as that. The only thing that is adamant in the many Jewish discussions of the subject is that there has to be a willingness to compromise.

    The rabbis tell, for example, about Aaron going from one disputant to the other, preparing them mentally and psychologically to meet each other again and to be prepared for the moral courage to take a step backwards.

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