Shabbat Shalom: A different perspective on conflicts
By: Bethany Friedlander
PJ Library Manager
When was the last time we woke up and did not feel we were in some sort of conflict – personal, professional, national, international, supernatural? We are constantly struggling, trying to figure out right from wrong, good from evil, best from worst.
Maybe we need to look at conflict from a different perspective. Maybe we can use our resilience to make better the things around us.
Over the last few weeks, our Colorado community has come together in so many ways. I had the opportunity to work with many families to help create hanukkiot that will be delivered to displaced Israeli families. Over one hundred of these handmade hanukkiot made by hundreds of little and big hands will be used in a few weeks to hopefully shine a small light on people experiencing major conflict. Upon delivering some of the hanukkiot supplies, I met a preschooler who struck up a conversation with me.
“I speak Hebrew,” she confidently said.
“Ani midaberet Ivrit gam, aval lo tov,” I replied (I speak Hebrew too, but not good).
She giggled and then continued…
“My mom is having a baby. We live in Israel. We are going back to Israel so she can have her baby in Israel. We are visiting our family in Denver and then we are going to visit our family here and there and then go back to Israel. I love Israel. My dad is in the army. He sends us videos so we can see him. He’s going to come home once a week when we go back to Israel, we will see him. It’s fun to visit my family and stay with them here in Denver. And now my mom and us are going to have my baby sister back home in Israel.”
While I cried inside hearing the reality of what this explanation was really about, through this little girl’s tearless eyes, there was no conflict in this conversation. There is love around her. People who care and take care of her and give her a place to be when the world around her is upside down. She has strong parents who have helped her to see a different side of the conflict – the side of love, birth, friendship, family, and community.
In this parsha, Toldot, we are bombarded with conflict: Twins struggling in the womb, a brother selling his birthright for food, a father and mother picking favorites, and trickery and deceit of a dying parent just to name a few. It is messy.
Rebekah gets so annoyed with all the wrestling matches occurring in her womb that she blurts out, “Why do I exist?” Her way of dealing with struggle was to ask what her role in it all was. Things did not turn out well for those twins while they lived in the same tent. Could there have been a better way for the conflicts in the story to be addressed? Where were the opportunities for family dinner meetings, text messages and videos while out in the fields, or conversation over baking bread? Almost everything presented revolved around give and take and the “me”.
I go back to the preschooler who will be returning to her home in Israel and her use of language. At her age, the world is quite “me” centered, but that is not how she spoke. She has been given tools from parents and community who are themselves deeply engulfed in conflict to speak of the “we.” The conflict still exists but there is one more person in this world with the ability to have a conversation, see a good side, and create space for others to love each other.
In Judaism when you meet someone who is pregnant, we say B’sha’ah tova – in a good hour. This little girl filled with hope, adventure, and warmth of family and friends is so excited to welcome her new baby sibling. To her brave mom, dad, and the whole family…B’sha’ah tov – in a good hour.
Conflicts will not be going away any time soon, but may we be able to see the good side more clearly than we see the bad through the love of family, friends, and community support.
Please email Bethany Friedlander at email@example.com with questions or comments.