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I don’t go to see violent movies, just ask my family: Friday the Thirteenth, The Wild Bunch. The Evening News – (oh, wait, that’s not a movie) I think people like to own these, to have some measure of control over the ragings. But I hate them. It’s not the blood and guts, it’s the entropy, the heartbreak. To conquer and overcome these forces is the heroic, it makes me cry. Well, in the continuation of the twins’ saga, Jacob and Esav will break a pattern of violence against brothers which began with the first brothers, Cain and Abel. The conflict is mirrored in Isaac and Ishmael, and now twin sons who’ve been fighting since before they were born. Esav’s identity, blessing and birthright have been stolen, and he brings 400 armed men to destroy the thief, his brother. But instead the brothers embrace, Esav the hunter kisses his brother on the neck. HOW is the pattern broken? The key is in that famous wrestling match, where Jacob struggles with a man all night long, or is it an Angel of God, or is it himself/ his life, or is it his brother? Jacob sort of becomes Israel, “God-wrestler” and gains a brilliant insight – that the humans that we wrestle with have within them the image of God, B’tzelem Elohim. He wrestles with a man, but it’s also God. And this enables him to be broken/limping/humble enough to call his brother “my Lord”, to bow before him and tell Esav, the brute, that seeing his face is like seeing God’s. And brother does not kill brother. But the new formed tie is fragile, Jacob/Israel won’t join his brother’s journey. and then the saga turns to Friday the Thirteenth. Israel cannot keep his new name, and the pattern of trickery turns very violent. Rape, deception, murder. Dina, Jacob’s only daughter is raped, or at least her virginity taken; The prince, Shechem so wants to marry her that he agrees that all the males of the town will be circumcised, and then while recovering all the town is murdered. That these are no strangers, but the children of Israel/Jacob is a warning: beware the enemy for he is us. and I rage, I wrestle I scream at us, at God, for this is our God-inspired text, and I hate that this is in our Torah. But maybe that’s what we’re supposed to do. Jacob/ Israel/ we have failed to learn b’tzelem Elohim, that we are in the image of God .  Perhaps it is impossible to see divinity in the face of threat to our own – our family, our ego. How can we hold on to our ideals? What should the brothers and father of Dina have done? Please chime in here, because I don’t know. But I know what they did was the worst possible expression of our humanity. Jacob never climbs that ladder, we are forever stuck between heaven and earth. By finding a better way, the best in each other, a way out of the cycle of violence, perhaps our generation can begin to climb those rungs.

From Safam Brother on Brother Piece by Peace Album

Two brothers, together,
That’s how it should be.
Each one has determined
His own destiny,
A hunter, a fighter,
One lives by the sword.
The other has chosen
To worship the Lord.

Brother on brother,
They can agree blood is thicker than water,
Brother on brother, so much to be gained.
Brother on brother,
Look at them now embracing each other.
Brother, brother. . . . Peace will reign!


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