Distance vs. Love
The bonds of parental and filial love are often hard to qualify. They can be complicated, filled with charged emotions, loaded histories and strained periods. However the Bible implies that the relationship and the love are powerful and enduring throughout life and beyond.
Joseph had been estranged from his father Jacob for 22 years. No postcards, no emails, no word. Jacob had thought his son dead and mourned him that whole time. There are a variety of theories as to what Joseph might have thought, but the bottom line is that he was not in touch whatsoever.
The family finally reconnects in one of the most dramatic scenes in the Bible (see this week’s story below). When Joseph’s siblings inform Jacob that Joseph is still alive, Jacob at first rejects their report. Peculiarly, only after Jacob notices the wagons that Joseph sent for him does Jacob believe that his son is indeed alive and sending for him.
There are a number of rabbinic commentaries as to why the wagons convinced Jacob of his son’s survival and authenticity. Rabbi Hizkiyahu ben Manoach (Hizkuni) provides a simple yet instructional reason.
Hizkuni explains that the wagons Joseph sent were extremely expensive. The wagons were so extravagant in their cost and comfort that Jacob was certain they could only come from a child of his. No stranger would ever bestow such a lavish gift on him. This could only come from a loving child.
Joseph’s demonstration of love crossed time and space. Decades of separation and distance were reduced in a moment. Father and son carried on, as reunited families and close friends do, as if time had not passed.
May we cherish such relationships and keep the time and distance between their continuations shorter.
To parents and our relationships. Both complex and simple.