The Family Separation Crisis

Friday, 22 June, 2018 - 4:10 pm

Jen Adams Beason, a school teacher, recently asked her students to write about an invention they wish had never been created. Their response – The cell-phone. As one second grader wrote “"I don't like the phone because my [parents] are on their phone every day ... I hate my mom's phone and I wish she never had one," Her comment has since gone viral and is all over the media.

Is technology separating us from our loved ones?

Winston Churchill famously said “Never waste a good crisis”

You may be familiar with the Biblical story of Jacob and the Angel. Esav’s guardian Angel attacks Jacob. After an all-night struggle the angel must return to heaven, however, Jacob will not let him go so easily, “Bless me before you go” he says to the Angel. And sure-enough the Angel blesses him by changing his name to Israel.

You would expect Jacob to simply say good riddance! Why would Jacob ask for a blessing from an Angel who fought with him all night?

Jacob did not want to waste a crisis. He refused to move on until he found a way to turn his struggle into a blessing.

(This is the meaning behind the story of the copper snake in this week’s Torah portion. Moses hangs a copper snake on a pole as a source of healing after Jews had been poisoned by snakes. In other words, the curse itself became the source of the blessing).

Our nation had a very difficult week witnessing young children being torn from their parents. It was emotionally painful for all of us.

A crisis of this magnitude must not be wasted!

Now that this practice has ended, we can’t simply move on. We must find a way to transform this crisis into a blessing.

The blessing should not be limited to politics. For those of us who shed a tear for those poor children, this was a personal crisis not just a political one. And as such the blessing must be a personal one, not just a political one.

The greater the crisis, the more deeply it affects you, the more it ought to change you for the better.

Perhaps we can use the emotional pain we experienced watching children being separated from their parents to motivate us to put down our cell-phones and grow closer to the people we love.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Benjy Silverman


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