> Weekly Torah Portion > Parents & Kids > Family Parsha

Sibling Harmony

Bereishit (Genesis 1:1-6:8 )

by Nesanel Yoel Safran

Getting along with siblings has been a challenge ever since time began. In this week's portion, we learn about the first siblings ever - Cain and Abel - and the tragedy that occurred between them. While fortunately most sibling rivalries don't come to that, we can learn from here the lesson of how important it is for siblings to get along.

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In our story, a kid discovers that a sibling can be more than just a rival.


"Shaaaaari!? Shaaaari! Can you come help me? It's impoooortant!" Shari took a deep breath and held it. What was it this time? And how many times was she supposed to interrupt this great book she was reading to help her kid brother? She got up and went downstairs to where he was calling her.

"Shari, I can't reach the top of this tower I made to put the top block on. Can you put this block on the top?"

Shari bit her lip to keep from screaming, and calmly placed the block on the top of the tower, only to have the whole thing suddenly collapse at her feet. As she stomped back up the steps, she had to hold her ears closed so she wouldn't have to hear her brother's LOUD wailing.

* * *

"Thanks for babysitting for Jason last night," Shari's mom said the next morning. "I'll probably need your help again this afternoon, okay?"

"Um, Mom, I don't think I ..." Shari started to protest but suddenly the phone rang and her mom got distracted. Shari grumbled under her breath a little bit, then thought about all the million things her parents did for her every day and that she didn't have anything planned for tomorrow anyways. I guess I could spare one more afternoon taking care of the little brat, oops, I mean, brother.

* * *

Next afternoon, Shari was again in the middle of a great book, and again, she heard Jason's little voice floating up the basement stairs, begging her to help him. What a pain! Why do I have to always do things for him? Why did I even have to have a brother at all? She went storming down the stairs to scream at him to leave her alone already. But too angry to pay attention, she tripped almost at the bottom and went flying down the rest of the steps. Shari landed flat on her face, but not before she twisted her leg badly! The pain was terrible! Now what was she ever going to do?

Just then, Jason came running. "Oh no, Shari. you got a boo-boo!" She told him to quickly bring her the phone so she could call their mother. While they were waiting for their mom to come home, Jason couldn't do enough for his big sister. First he brought her a glass of water, and then he brought over a pillow and gently put it under her head. He brought over his favorite blanket and covered her with it. Finally, he brought over his best teddy bear and placed it by her head. Then he sat down next to her, stuck his thumb in his mouth, and waited quietly until they heard the car pull into the driveway.

Shari watched Jason and was amazed. Look how nicely he's trying to take care of me! What a sweet kid... Shari learned a big lesson from her little brother, how to help however you can and give with all your heart. Maybe having a kid brother wasn't as bad as she thought he was. In fact, maybe it - and he - was pretty nice!

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Ages 3-5

Q. How did Shari feel about her little brother at first?
A. She thought he was a pain and didn't want to do things for him.

Q. How did she feel in the end?
A. She saw he really tried to help her and was a nice kid after all.

Ages 6-9

Q. What life-lesson do you thing Shari learned from what happened?
A. She'd resented helping - and even having - a younger brother, but after seeing how much he cared for her, she realized that having a sibling is a very special gift.

Q. Why do you think siblings fight?
A. It's only natural to resent or fight with someone who's always around and competing for our space and our parents' attention. However, it's so worth it to try to see the good in each other and get along. A sibling is a special person and a special chance to have a friend for life.

Ages 10 and Up

Q. How do you thing a person could improve her sibling relationships?
A. The same way she'd improve any relationship. By acting respectfully, being willing to compromise and give of herself. It's easy to forget these basics with someone so close, but it pays such dividends when we keep them in mind.

Q. Do you think that people who are siblings are is a random twist of fate?
A. Not at all. Our sages and mystics teach that every person we encounter has been sent to us from God as a spiritual test and growing experience, how much more so, our family and the people close to us. Remembering this is a great tool for getting along with our siblings - and everyone else.

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