A Loving Family

The Baal Haturim takes the last letters of four consecutive words in Parshat Lech Lecha. The words are, איש מעל אחיו אברם. These last letters spell the word, שלום, peace.

The reference is to the separation between Avraham and his nephew, Lot. Rather than continuing a dispute and creating more bad feelings, Avraham realized that if they keep their distance from one another, there could be Shalom between them.

There was once a Jewish comedienne named Milton Berle, who said, “Happiness is a warm, loving family, in another city!”

We are taught by our sages, and we include this in our morning prayers, that Hashem will help us be distanced from bad friends and bad neighbors. We must place ourselves in the best possible environment for growth.

When it comes to family, we need to be truthful and see if closeness to them is helpful and positive, or not. I make a point of telling young couples about to marry, that they must set boundaries with their so called close relatives.

I have seen numerous instances where the meddling of well intentioned parents, destroys the marriage of their children. It is hard enough to keep a marriage together these day. The young couple must be given their space so that they can build their own relationship that will increase their love and respect for one another.

The stories of the Torah carry very practical lessons. There are times that for the sake of peace, and one’s mental well being, where it becomes necessary to keep a distance from negative influences. Perhaps the words of Milton Berle, are not a joke, but sound advice.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at