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What is family?

The sale of Yosef to slavery by his brothers, despite all the different explanations proffered, is extremely hard to understand. It contradicts our very fundamental understanding of family as a place of trust and security. It begs the question, if we can be enslaved by our own flesh and blood – then what is the nature of blood connections? The parasha brings into sharp focus what the tenor of the most important human relationships is.

What does it mean to be a brother?

What is the existential nature of family?

What binds the Jewish people into a nation?

What makes humans into humanity?

One way to approach these questions is to understand the nature of adopted families. Adopted families are not a fact of birth; they are a choice. And families that are comprised of adopted members are families indeed.

I met a lady many years ago who was adopted. She had a most beautiful story about her adopted parents; her biological mother and father; her siblings.

Besides being inspired, I learned from her a profound principle:

Blood doesn’t make family – love does.

I tried my best to capture in a small way what she taught me through this poem:

Family

Blood does not create love
But love creates blood

Blood can only accentuate love in the heart
But it can never create it from the very start

So it is not blood that makes two brothers
Only love can bind a soul to another

Family is not defined by a similar face
Nor if they come from the same place

For blood is merely a biological fact
While family is ultimately a love act

About the Author
Menachem Zaman resides in Jerusalem, Israel with his wife and two kids.
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