SALT - Sunday 1 Tevet 5776 - December 13, 2015

  • Rav David Silverberg

            In his impassioned appeal to Yosef to allow Binyamin to return home to his father in Canaan, Yehuda poetically described the close bond between Binyamin and Yaakov: “nafsho keshura ve-nafsho” – “his soul is bound with his soul” (44:3).  Because of this special bond, Yehuda argued, Yaakov would likely die if his sons returned home from Egypt without his most beloved son, Binyamin.

            The Ba’al Ha-turim observes that the word “keshura” appears in only one other instance in the entire Tanakh – in Sefer Mishlei (22:15), where Shelomo warns of youthful recklessness: “Ivelet keshura be-leiv na’ar” – “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a youth.”  Shelomo teaches us that “ivelet” (“foolishness”) is practically endemic to youthfulness.  It is no coincidence, the Ba’al Ha-turim suggests, that there is only one other relationship that is described with the term “keshura” – the relationship between a parent and his child.  In the Ba’al Ha-turim’s words, “Because his foolishness is bound in him, his soul must be bound with his father’s soul, so he can educate him.”

            Beyond the clever attempt to connect two verses that share an unusual word but otherwise have little to do with one another, the Ba’al Ha-turim here alludes to a fundamental truism about education.  Youngsters are naturally attracted to “ivelet” – wrong behavior and the wrong decisions – and often, the most effective means of negating this force is to strengthen the bonds between them and their parents.  The more youngsters are “bound” to their parents with bonds of love, affection and respect, the less likely they are to be “bound’ to “ivelet,” to negative behaviors and tendencies.  The Ba’al Ha-turim here teaches – and challenges – us to try to strengthen the bonds with our children, even if for no other reason than to loosen the “bonds” that pull them in the wrong direction.

(Based on a sicha by the Tolna Rebbe)