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With gentleness

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

She is the mother of several small children and the following is what she wrote me concerning this week's Torah portion.

"In parashat Vayishlach, Yaakov Avinu refuses the offer of Esau to proceed together with him, and this is his reason: 'and I will move at my own slow pace, according to the pace of the work before me and according to the pace of the children.'

"Yaakov does not hasten forward in life alongside his brother Esau. This is because Yaakov has his own family to raise, a different world view, and moves at a different pace. When small children are involved, movement is slow. Whoever is responsible for soft and tender youngsters is obligated to advance slowly and proceed with caution.

"In the ancient world there were many types of work that demanded a leisurely approach. For example, working the earth meant that a person would sow, wait, and then just allow nature to take its course. Many other types of work required patience, and the successful person was often the relaxed one, not the harried one.

"In the digital world, there are many kinds of work that demand efficiency and speed and quickness. The successful person is the one who carefully watches the clock in order to shrink the time needed to complete a task. We are used to this and therefore find it difficult to fit ourselves into the rhythm of whoever is slower than us, such as small children. In a world in which it is difficult to wait 20 seconds to download an attachment, it's not easy to wait 5 minutes for a toddler who stubbornly refuses to take off his socks and shoes by himself.

"During so many moments of each day, it is as though our child is talking to us without words: 'Abba, Ima, a little slower.' At such moments, it would be worthwhile to be reminded of this verse: 'And I will move at my own slow pace.' When Rashi explains 'at my own slow place' he writes 'with gentleness.' This is a magical way of moving forward and living and it would be worthwhile to repeat it to ourselves now and again: with gentleness."


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