I’d like to know: It says that Yaakov loved Yosef more than his other children because he was of his old age. What about Binyamin? Binyamin was younger than Yosef.
Why did Yaakov love Yosef more than Binyamin?
Binyamin at that time was very little. Yosef was seventeen years old at that time. Seventeen years old in a very good boy is a time when you can see his character and his wisdom ripening. If you have children and grandchildren, you’ll notice that the age of seventeen is a time when in excellent children, adolescence starts blossoming into adulthood. And Yosef, at that time, was showing his quality. He was a very good boy!
I cannot begin to tell you how great his superiority of character was! And the father looked at him and fell in love with him. Yaakov lived for his son Yosef.
This emotion, the paternal emotion, was implanted in the parents’ heart in order that the parents should do all they could to make their child grow up to be the very best person.
And so, Yaakov put all of his wisdom into Yosef. Because תן לחכם ויחכם עוד – give to a wise man and he’ll become wiser.
If you have efforts to invest in a person, invest it in the best kind of person. You hear that? Put your efforts in the best kind of person. That’s where it’ll pay off most.
So although Yaakov taught all of his children, but most of his efforts were in Yosef, כי בן זקונים הוא לו – he was the son of his old age; so our sages say, he was the son of his wisdom. He gave him all the wisdom he could.
And here was Yosef now, the perfect young man, budding into manhood and he was the very best of his brothers; נזיר אחיו – the chosen one of all the brothers. He was a beautiful young man, by the way. A very beautiful and wise young man. He had all the qualities of character that made him ready to be the leader of the Jewish nation for almost eighty years and Yaakov loved him for that.
Do you mean that we aren’t supposed to love all children equally?
Do you love all children equally? Absolutely not.
We love each child according to his deserts. Every child deserves love, but a good child, a righteous child, deserves much more love – no question about it.
Now you shouldn’t, however, do things to arouse the envy of the other brothers. That, the gemara says, was an error. When Yaakov bestowed upon Yosef an especial tunic, a kesones pasim, that he shouldn’t have done. We should not show partiality to any child. But love? No question that we should love the better child more.
TAPE # E-43 (November 1995)