By Five Towns Marriage Initiative

Parashas Vayechi tells us of the passing of Yaakov Avinu, the righteous father of the 12 tribes. He passed away in Egypt, and as per his request, his body was transferred to Eretz Yisrael for burial. Along with the deceased went the tribes, arranged according to the formation that they would use while camping in the desert. The funeral procession also included hundreds of Egyptians that came to pay homage to Yaakov, both for the fact that he was father of their viceroy, Yosef, and because his timely arrival had halted the famine in midcourse.

When the procession finally arrived at Me’aras HaMachpeilah, the burial place of such illustrious individuals as Adam and Chavah, Avraham and Sarah, and Yitzchak and Rivka, who was there awaiting them? None other than Eisav himself, who had come there to claim the territory of the burial spot as his own. An argument ensued, with Eisav claiming the right to the spot, and the tribes positing that the spot belonged to Yaakov. Yaakov even had the deeds to the spot, but they had been left in Egypt. It was decided that Naftali would run back to Egypt and retrieve the deed to prove to Eisav that the spot was not rightfully his. In the midst of this all, Chushim, son of Dan and grandson of Yaakov, stepped forward and slew Eisav. The funeral then continues as planned.

What happened? The Midrash tells us that Chushim ben Dan was deaf. Everyone else heard what was going on and got embroiled in the situation. The emphasis switched from the point of the argument to dealing with it. In the interim, Yaakov’s body was being neglected as they waited for Naftali to arrive back with the deed. The whole point of burying the dead is for the honor of the deceased, and clearly, leaving Yaakov’s body unburied throughout this whole process was disgraceful. Yet to those involved in the give-and-take with Eisav, this fact went unnoticed. Specifically for this reason, it took someone like Chushim ben Dan to act. Being that he was deaf, there was no argument to sidetrack him. He saw Yaakov being disgraced and he acted. With his ears closed he was able to hear the problem better than anyone else and respond to it appropriately. He was able to get straight to the point and not get distracted by any trivial details.

There are times in life when a situation calls upon us to be like Chushim ben Dan. Sometimes it is better to close our ears and act upon what is right, rather than getting caught up in an argument. And sometimes when arguing, like what happened at Yaakov’s burial, we tend to lose track of the stars for the moon. We get so caught up in the argument that we forget what we were trying to achieve with all our arguing in the first place.

Just remember that the ultimate goal is shalom bayis, and hopefully if we don’t lose our focus, any arguments will simply fall by the wayside. v

Five Towns Marriage Initiative provides educational programs, workshops, and referrals to top marriage therapists. FTMI will help offset counseling costs when necessary and also runs an anonymous shalom bayis hotline for the entire community Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, 10:00—11:00 p.m. For the hotline or for more information, call 516-430-5280 or e-mail


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