> Weekly Torah Portion > Parents & Kids > Family Parsha

Sibling Chivalry

Va'eira (Exodus 6:2-9:35 )

by Nesanel Yoel Safran

Our siblings don't have to be our rivals. In this week's portion, Moses had an important message to deliver to Pharaoh, but his brother, Aaron, was a better speaker. So God advised them to team up (Ex. 7:1-2) and that way they got the job done perfectly. We too can have more success in life when we work together with our siblings, rather than against them.

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In our story, a couple of brothers discover that teaming up beats beating up, every time.


"Hey, me first!" Mike said to his brother, Steve, pushing him out of the way as the two of them grappled in the garage to get to their sleds.

"No way, punk!" Steve countered, elbowing his brother hard, knocking him onto the seat of his snow pants. He quickly pulled his sled out from the storage closet, where it had been packed and waiting for the first snowstorm of the winter season - which had just come. Eleven inches of perfect sledding snow were left behind.

"That's not fair!" Mike yelled out angrily.

"Too bad, chump," Steve laughed as he triumphantly dragged his sled across the garage floor. But his laughing came to a sudden stop as CRAAASH!!!, the heavy garage door came down with a hard thud smack on top of his sled's wooden slats, cracking them in half.

"Why did you do that!?" Steve wheeled around in shock to see his gleefully smiling brother holding his own sled in one hand and the remote control garage-door opener like a laser sword in his other.

"Cut in line and you get cut out," Mike grinned as he pushed the button and reopened the door. "I'm going sledding. Too bad you can't. If you want, you can come along to watch, hah, hah."

Steve walked up to Mike who, for a moment, actually thought that his brother was going to take him up on his tongue-in-cheek offer. Then, without warning, Steve grabbed Mike's sled out of his arms, flipped it over, and with a couple of swift kicks and well placed stomps of his foot, he bent the runners into sorrowful twisted mangle.

"You ... you wrecked my sled!" Mike shrieked, red-faced.

"And what do you think you did to mine?" his brother shot back, hot tears burning his eyes.

The two of them sat silently on the carcasses of their respective sleds, watching the storm's tail-end flurries falling on the smiling and laughing neighborhood kids rushing to the sledding hill. The day that each of them thought was going to be the funnest of the winter was turning into the worst, thanks to their dumb fight.

"Sorry, Mike," Steve grunted glumly.

"Me too," Mike echoed. "Now I don't have a sled and neither do you."

Steve nodded. Then he stood up, looked at the broken sleds, scratched his head and said; "Maybe I don't and you don't ... but we do."

"Whaddaya mean?"

"I mean," Steve said, "the top of my sled is wrecked, but the runners are fine. Yours is just the opposite. If you'll let me use your sled top, I can take the runners off mine and replace your broken ones. Then I ... that is, we ... will have one perfectly good sled to use."

"We can take turns," Mike said, brightening. Steve nodded with a smile.

A few turns of the screwdriver later, the brothers were happily romping their way through the snow. Though each of them had less than they'd started with, they realized, by learning to cooperate instead of fighting, they ended up with a lot more.

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Ages 3-5

Q. How did the boys act with each other at first?
A. They fought with each other and wrecked each other's sleds.

Q. How did they act in the end?
A. They agreed to cooperate and were able to fix things up.


Ages 6-9

Q. What life lesson do you think the guys learned that day?
A. Their fighting and competing to go first had caused both of them to lose. But they salvaged a bad situation - and learned a big lesson - that cooperation would get them further than rivalry, fights and competition.

Q. Do you think the brothers were happy even though they had to share one sled? Why or why not?
A. While they only had one sled instead of two - they had the special satisfaction that comes with making peace, cooperating and finding solutions.


Ages 10 and Up

Q. Do you think it's harder or easier for siblings to get along than it is for friends?
A. In a way, with friends it's much easier. We can choose when and when not to be in each other's company, and we even choose whom we want to be friends with. However the bond of siblings, although it admittedly takes more work, (which builds our characters) can become deeper than any friendship and fortify us for a lifetime.

Q. Do you think anything good comes out of rivalry?
A. While it can spur us on to achieve more than we would otherwise, that's only if the rivalry is in a positive spirit and not looking to knock the other down.


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