The blog is in 2 parts
1 Empathy but with Compassion
The brothers of Joseph entered Egypt to buy food and also to look for Joseph. They are ordered to appear before the viceroy' who accuses them of being spies. They are unaware that the viceroy is Joseph. Joseph then remembers his dreams and he knew that the dreams were prophecies that had to be fulfilled no matter how harsh he treated his brothers. They had to be fulfilled in the correct order – first the 11 brothers bowing down to him, so he had to engineer that Benjamin would be brought to Egypt, and only then Jacob- Ya'akov could come. Joseph had another objective and that was the unification of the family. Before this could happen there needed to be a change of heart in the brothers towards Joseph and a change of heart of Joseph towards his brothers. It meant giving the brothers the opportunity to show their remorse and repent over the callous and heartless way they treated him, selling him as a slave and the pain they caused their father. The brothers had to show that they were not resentful of Joseph and Benjamin because of the special relationship Rachel had in their father's affections that they would be willing to fight for Benjamin. He therefore put them in a situation that they could gain their own freedom at the expense of Benjamin's and see how they would react.
Joseph imprisons Shimon and sends the brothers home to fetch Benjamin as a proof that they are not spies. The brothers see their treatment as ' Divine punishment ',' measure for measure ' for their cruel treatment of Joseph. They blamed themselves for their callousness towards Joseph's entreaties, but not for the actual sale which they considered as a deserving punishment. They felt at the time that Joseph was the aggressor who was trying to disinherit them , exclude them from Jacob's family and be the sole heir.
Reuben disagrees and says they are being punished for the sale.
The brothers are saying we should have carried out the plan to sell Joseph in a more empathic way and reassure him that he is in God's hands and everything will be alright. The Talmud teachers that criminals must be treated as kindly as possible to minimize humiliation and suffering. The brothers did not act accordingly.
Reuben is saying, empathy alone is not enough. We had to show compassion and take seriously Joseph's entreaties and concerns. We could have had a dialogue with Joseph and presented him with our concerns. In fact the brothers were mistaken about Joseph's intentions. Joseph was only interested in the leadership and not to disinherit the brothers.
These 2 approaches to empathy are to be found in different parenting styles. Progressive parenting uses empathy with compassion. Traditional parenting uses empathy or perfunctory empathy.Getting empathy right is crucial to CPS - collaborative problem solving in parenting - Empathy in CPS Parenting