The Torah relates several events that shed light upon, or impact upon, the relationship between Josef and his brothers. A strained relationship that, as we know, reaches its climax in the sale of Josef by his brothers.
The perceived special love that Yaakov has for Yosef, including the gift of the כתנת פסים (the multi-colored coat), and Yosef’s two dreams, foreshadow his future authority over his brothers. Even before Yosef relates his dreams to his brothers, the Torah tells us of the brother’s feelings and attitude towards Yosef,
“וישנאו אתו ולא יכלו דברו לשלום”
(they hated him; and they were not able to speak to him peaceably).
At first glance, these two statements would seem to follow one another, “because they hated him they were unable to speak with him.” Rabbi Yonasan Eibshitz, however, offers a very different approach to understanding this verse.
Rabbi Eibshitz suggests that these two ideas do indeed follow one another, but in the reverse order. He explains as follows; it is human nature, that if one bears ill will against another, those feelings will build and grow stronger. If however, the situation is discussed openly, and feelings and perceptions are brought to light, then each party will have the opportunity to explain circumstances and impressions. Such open communication provides for the possibility of reconciliation, and the putting to rest of old, misunderstood or erroneous grudges.
Following this approach, the above pasuk would read as follows, “Because they would not take the time to speak with him, [and openly discuss the issues that caused such conflict between them]; [they were unable to resolve their negative feelings towards him and] they hated him.”
How often is it our own stubborn refusal to deal with an issue, rather than the issue itself, that is cause for so much heartache and pain? For our own good, as well as the example we must set for our children, we must rise above this sentiment and strive for Shalom/Peace.
Rabbi Don Pacht