I have grown up in a family with no favorites. I can’t imagine living in a family where parents have favorites and don’t love each child equally. The house and family would be divided. When I think about a home, it should be a place where you can escape from the world and be surrounded by people who care about you, are loyal to you, believe in you, support you, defend you and would never turn on you.
In Parshat Toldot, the house and family are divided in unfathomable ways: Rivka favored Yaakov because he is like her — he likes being in the house, he helps out, and he can even cook. But Yitzhak favors Esav because he sees himself in Esav through their love for the outdoors and hunting for meat.
One day, Yaakov took advantage of Esav, who was famished after a day of hunting. In that desperate moment, Yaakov persuaded Esav to give up his birthright for soup. Later, Rivka and Yaakov take advantage of Yitzhak’s blindness, and they plot to mislead Yitzchak so Yaakov gets the blessing of the firstborn instead of Esav. That moment destroyed any chance they had of loving and trusting each other, and it also destroyed their family. They lived forevermore without the love and support that a family can provide. Instead, they became divided and disconnected.
The lesson we learn is that people tend to repeat later in life what they learn in their homes growing up in their own families. This pattern repeats itself in the life stories of our matriarchs and patriarchs. They all come from families where parents favor one child over others, leading to clashes and destroyed families and relationships.
My parents give each of us a weekly Shabbat blessing. It starts by saying that we should be like Ephraim and Menasha because they were the only brothers in Genesis who truly shared brotherly love. It didn’t exist for Yitzhak, Yaakov or Yosef with their siblings. By giving us the same blessing, my parents are telling us that we are all equal in their eyes and hearts. They do this so we will always love, support and rely on each other.
Gideon Rone is a seventh-grade student at Krieger Schechter Day School.