The Great ReconciliationDecember 6, 2021 - 12:00 am
“Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father.” — Genesis 44:33-34
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Vayigash, which means “and he approached,” from Genesis 44:18–47:27.
When my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, of blessed memory, first started IFCJ Canada, there were many in the Jewish community who were not pleased by what he was doing. “How can we build friendship with Christians,” they argued, “after all the suffering that Christians caused the Jewish people over the centuries?”
As far as they were concerned, there could be no reconciliation between Jews and Christians because of the history of anti-Jewish beliefs and behaviours throughout the centuries. In their minds, my father was ignoring the atrocities done to the Jewish people. My father bore the burden of this criticism for many years. Friendly relationships between Jews and Christians were just not accepted by the Jewish community.
Today, thankfully, things are different. The our work is appreciated by Jews around the world. The Jewish community has come to realize that the love shown to us by millions of Christians who support the Jewish people is sincere and steadfast. It is not an exaggeration to say that my father’s work in creating and building IFCJ Canada has led the way to what has become a great reconciliation between Jews and Christians all around the world.
The Great Reconciliation
In this week’s Torah portion, we see the first great reconciliation in the Bible. And just like the growing trust between Jews and Christians, this great reconciliation was built upon love and sincerity.
When Joseph first saw his brothers arrive in Egypt, he remembered how they had sold him into slavery. He didn’t know if they regretted what they did to him, if they had repented, or if they chose to move on without taking responsibility. He could have punished them and made them suffer. Instead, he decided to find out if they had changed, to see if reconciliation was possible.
It was only when Joseph saw that Judah, whose idea it was to sell him, offered himself up as a slave instead of Benjamin that he knew that his brothers were sincere. Think about it. When the brothers sold Joseph, besides the cruelty to their own brother, they showed no concern for the pain that this would cause their father Jacob. And now, in a complete reversal, Judah offered himself up as a slave to save Jacob the pain of losing Benjamin.
Too many of us have experienced broken and fractured relationships, just like Joseph and his brothers. Let’s learn from them that reconciliation is possible. When we are sincere and willing to change, even thousands of years of pain can be transformed into love.
Your turn: What relationships in your life need reconciliation right now? Reach out to that person in sincerity and love and see what miracles occur!