And his [Joseph’s] brothers saw that their father [Jacob] loved him mora than all his brothers, so they hated him, and they could not speak with him peacefully.
Why did the brothers not speak to Joseph? Why didn’t them tell him what was bothering them?
Joseph has his dreams, wears a coat of many colors and his brothers are jealous of him. Sivan Rahav Meir describes that their inability to speak to Joseph led to a deterioration in their relationship- they hated him, distanced themselves from him, threw him in a pit and later sold him as a slave. Thus, it was their inability to communicate that led to exile and slavery in Egypt.
How did they get into such a mess? Some commentators suggest that it was their silence and distancing from each other. While some issues might be fine to sweep under the rag, when two sides are moving apart, it is counterproductive to remain silent. Both sides need to air grievances in order to ensure the problem is not ignored. It is better to talk to the opposing side and try to understand them rather than let the negative feelings build up inside.
This is codified in Jewish law by the great Rabbi Moses Maimonides who writes: When one person sins against [another, the latter] should not despise him and be silent. Rather, it is a commandment to inform him and say to him, “Why did you do this and that to me? And why did you wrong me in matter x?” As it states, “you shall surely rebuke your kinsman” (Leviticus 19:17) [interestingly, this verse is shortly followed by “and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.]
In his book “7 Habits of Highly Effective Families,” Stephen Covey writes, “to learn to seek first to understand then to be understood opens the floodgates to heart-to-heart family living… we each look at the world through our own pair of glasses; glasses that create our value system, our expectations, our implicit assumptions about the way the world is and the way it should be. We’re seeing the world as we are- or as we have been conditioned to be. And until we gain the capacity to step out of our own autobiography- set aside our own glasses and really see the world through the eyes of others- we will never be able to build deep, authentic relationships and have the capacity to influence others in positive ways.”
The same holds true for different sectors and tribes within the Jewish people, relationships between siblings and also between husband and wife. It is no coincidence, says Sivan Rahav Meir, that in his words of wisdom in Ecclesiastes, King Solomon teaches us, “a time to speak,” followed immediately by “a time to love.” Shabbat Shalom!a