The Daily Portion
Cultivate patience, never give up

Many things require continued striving and much patience, as the story of Jacob so clearly teaches us.

Sivan Rahav-Meir ,

Sivan Rahav-Meir
Sivan Rahav-Meir
Eyal ben Ayish

In this week's Torah portion, Yaakov (Jacob) refuses Esau's suggestion to move forward together with him and this is his reason: *'And I will move at my own slow pace, according to the pace of the work that is before me and according to the pace of the children.'* Yaakov does not race forward in life with his brother Esau because he has a family to raise and he has a different world view and a different rhythm. When there are small children involved, we move slowly. When we are responsible for young and tender souls, we must take our time.

In the ancient world in general, there were many tasks that required patience and a gentle frame of mind. Working the earth required sowing seed and then waiting for nature to take its course. Many additional tasks required patience and the successful person was in many cases the patient one, not the hasty one.

In the digital world, in contrast, there is an increasing number of tasks that require speed and efficiency. The successful person is the one who is quick and efficient and can reduce the time it takes to get things done. We have gotten used to this and have difficulty going along with those whose rhythm is slower than ours – that of small children, for example.

In a world in which it is hard to wait 20 seconds to download a computer file, it's not easy to wait 5 minutes for a toddler to remove his shoes and socks all by himself. In so many different ways every day, children tell us without words: 'Father, mother, a little slower.' It's worthwhile then to remind ourselves of these words: 'And I will move at my own slow pace.' When Rashi explains 'at my own slow pace' he writes: 'calmly, with gentleness.' These are the magic words we need to repeat to ourselves every now and then. (Sent to me by Revital, a mother of 8)

I have a weekly zoom meeting with bat mitzva age girls and I asked Rav Yoni Lavi what he feels is the most important message to pass along to 11-13 year old girls during this time. His suggestion seems to me appropriate for girls - and boys too, for that matter, of every age.

"Our name is Yisrael. We received it in this week's Torah portion, after the victory of Yaakov over the angel: *'No longer will it be said that your name is Yaakov, but Yisrael, for you have striven with the Divine and with man and have prevailed.'* Read this passage well. According to the words, it would be more correct to call us 'prevailer' and not Yisrael (literally, God will strive or striving with God). And yet, we see that the emphasis is on the 'striver,' on the struggle, on determination and persistence, and not on the result or the achievement."

We will not win every battle in life, but we are a nation of fighters and strivers. Adolescence is an age of overcoming in which we join an eternal group that perpetually strives to do more. This is important to remember, from childhood on: We are named after the struggle, and not after the victory. Not after our successes, but after our trials.

• Translation by Yehoshua Siskin