Kenneth Cohen

No Favoritism

The Talmud in Masechet Shabbat comments on Yosef’s “coat of many colors.” We should learn from here that a parent should not show favoritism towards one child over his other children. Yakov’s error led to the exile in Egypt.

It is interesting how the Talmud turns towards giving parental guidance. There is a great deal to be learned from every incident mentioned in the Torah.
In this instance, there is a very clear warning to parents. Aside from the potential damage to the rejected child, who feels less loved, the parents need to get their act together.

There is something terribly wrong if a parent does not love all of his children equally. While it’s true that some children give their parents a great deal of aggravation, that does not excuse loving this child less.

We must realize how every child is a gift from G-d, and is special in his own way. To prefer or love one child over the other, shows very bad character on the part of the parents.

Perhaps Yakov Avinu was overcome by emotion, and felt a special bond with Yosef, the son of his beloved, Rachel. And he may have found great comfort in Yosef, after his mother died in childbirth.

Despite all of this, the Talmud cries out and makes it clear, that Yakov was wrong. The text of the Torah tells us that he loved Yosef more than all of his sons. This is seen as a flaw in Yakov, for which a great price was paid.

It would certainly be worthwhile for parents to take a crash course in parenting, and learn how to love all children. Such an emotion should come naturally. If it doesn’t, the lessons of the Talmud need to be studied thoroughly.

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