I’m struggling. As a British Jew, I’m programmed to support the underdog and my heart bleeds for poor Prince Harry (who will always be prince to me). He couldn’t be expressing his pain more explicitly, (for explicit, read: “in more of an American fashion”). Yet, as a British Jew, I know the importance of the structures we are born into. One’s birthplace in the Royal Family sets your role for life and no one is to blame. You live your birthright (or lack of one) as your badge of honour. With privilege comes responsibility, and with a little less responsibility comes an easier package and a little less privilege.
Torah teaches us that all too often the second born fought the system and won. Our patriarch Jacob tricked his brother out of his birthright, using deception to fight the system, and yet I am reminded of his treatment where he sought refuge by his Uncle Laban. Does Harry think he’s found refuge in the US and will be protected by the warm embrace of American society by speaking their language, baring all, and turning the tight lipped royal into wearing his heart on his sleeve?
Jacob fled his own behaviour in Laban’s home and yet the tricker became the tricked when he was forced to marry the wrong sister. Who is advising Harry? What does he think these interviews and his book will achieve? Are the people he thinks are supporting him actually manipulating him for their own gains?
The Palace’s communications team is so different from the celebrity PR machines that surround Harry and will never respond in a Hollywood style. Yet I so hope the drawbridge is not raised permanently. It took Jacob to need to cross Esau’s land for the moment of reconciliation to take place. It didn’t come from Jacob feeling guilty for the betrayal, it was a moment of self-interest. What will be the moment of self-interest that causes Harry to reach out to his brother appropriately? When it happens will the brothers וַיִּשָּׁקֵהוּ va’yishakayhu? That word in Genesis 33:4 which has flummoxed the commentators for generations. Did the boys fall on each other and bite or kiss?
I suspect the British and American public will always be in the position of the baffled commentators. We will never really understand what’s going on behind the scenes but I hope one day, Harry, like Jacob will need to cross William’s land and they too will *kiss* and make up.
Rabbi Miriam Berger was ordained in 2006 and is principal rabbi at Finchley Reform Synagogue.