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What events happen that tear families apart? I worked with a colleague in the Prosecutor’s Office who did not go to his father’s funeral. I was talking to somebody, and he said that a rift developed between a friend and the friend’s brother; they didn’t speak to each another for many years. I hear stories of siblings who jointly operated a business, and one sibling stole a great deal of money from the other sibling.
Joseph is gracious, but he is in a powerful position. Imagine that the brothers traveled to Egypt to buy food, and Joseph was a slave in the viceroy’s household and he recognized his brothers. I bet that the slave Joseph would not have been magnanimous as Joseph in the Torah.
It takes a big person to heal a rift, especially if you are the aggrieved person. The friend who was described by the person whom I was talking to reached out to his brother, and they healed the rift.
I did not know that my own grandfather, my father’s father, was alive until he died. My father had a contentious relationship to his father, and one time I asked my father, “Why did you go to your father’s funeral if you hated him so much?” My father answered, “My mother made me.” But my father honored his father in a way: whenever my father was called to the Torah, he announced his name, Meir Gadol ben Natan.