The Bible Says What? ‘Genesis is a lesson in how not to parent’

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The Bible Says What? ‘Genesis is a lesson in how not to parent’

 Rabbi Sandra Kviat takes a controversial topic from Jewish texts and offers a progressive response

Rabbi Sandra Kviat
Parenthood (Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash)
Parenthood (Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash)

“They mess you up, your mum and dad” pretty much sums up the all the stories of Genesis. 

 Abraham favoured Isaac over Ishmael, Isaac then preferred Esau over Jacob, and Jacob openly favours his youngest child, Joseph, to the chagrin of his older siblings. 

The dysfunctionality continues down the generations until it seems to end with the complex character of Joseph and his two sons.

 Indeed, if anything, Genesis is a lesson in how not to parent.

 What we see in the Torah is not a gallery of saints, or blameless characters. It can at times rather feel like an ongoing soap, like an episode of EastEnders or Coronation Street, just with long beards and shepherds’ staffs, rather than leather jackets and bling. The temper tantrums, the scheming and the backstabbing is just the same.

 I have to admit that I have only come to soaps lately, and the only one I can watch with interest is Casualty. And although there is much silliness, easily foreseeable plot twists, and unrealistic situations (accidents always come in twos in Casualty), there is something utterly appealing about soaps. It has something to do with their imperfection, with blood and guts, their failures and misery. 

 Although it is highly unlikely anyone would ever suffer the fate of a soap character, nevertheless we feel their pain, frustration
and confusion. 

We can recognise some of it and empathise with the lack of perfection, for that is real life too.

 Our Torah forefathers are not saints, but their weaknesses are also their strengths. Ultimately, it is their very humanity that connects us to them and makes their stories endure.

 Rabbi Sandra Kviat serves Crouch End Chavurah

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