There is a holy teaching handed down from the great Chasidic master, Reb Zvi Hersh of Ziditchov, that when Yaakov appeals to Esav not to accompany him on his journey due to the slow pace, לרגל המלאכה — of the gait of the drove, and לרגל הילדים — the gait of the children, it is mystically alluding to two sets of holidays.

The word רגל used here to refer to their gait, alternately can be referring to the שלש רגלים — the Three Holidays the Jewish people made their pilgrimage by foot — thus its association with gait — to the Temple on Pesach, Shavuos, Sukkos. These are days when we must refrain from מלאכה — work activity, thus appropriately alluded to in the phrase: לרגל המלאכה — the holidays restricted from prohibited work.

The second phrase, לרגל הילדים, can now be translated in this light as the 'holiday' of the 'children', indicating the celebration of Purim and Chanukah, days when work is permitted, which according to the Zohar correspond to the רזא דכרובים — the Secret of the Cherubim, the angelic figures that were situated above the Holy Ark in the Temple, which possessed childlike faces.

It has been explained that when Yaakov met up with his brother, Esav pined for his dominion — the exile under the Kingdom of Edom — to be initiated from that moment. Yaakov responded that it was yet premature for that challenge. The Jewish people would first have to endure the enslavement in Egypt and the subsequent forty year sojourn in the desert, fortifying themselves in the fulfillment of the Three Regalim that were borne from those experiences. Additionally, we would yet have to withstand the exiles of Bavel, Media, and Greece, generating and celebrating the holidays of Purim and Chanukah that commemorate G-d's miraculous intervention during two life threatening episodes, to be equipped for the final showdown between Yaakov and Esav.

Although there are deep kabbalistic implications beyond my level of comprehension within this theory, nevertheless, I believe there is something relevant and tangible for even us simple folk to extract from these allusions.

Over the course of the next few portions there are only two people individually referred to as ילד — a child.

When Reuven returns to the pit, he exclaims upon discovering that Yosef is gone, הילד איננו — the boy is gone!

When Yehuda makes his final heartfelt plea to the viceroy — Yosef, he reviews how they had previously mentioned about their father Yaakov who had a young ילד זקונים — child of his old age, referring of course to Binyamin.

Yosef and Binyamin, the only two children whom the Torah explicitly states their father loved them, are depicted as ילדים — boys.

Yosef we are told is the antidote to the alluring negative influences of Greek philosophy and culture. Wasn't Yosef the paradigm of one who remained steadfast in his principles, preserving his purity despite the powerful pull of a society that was renowned for its depravities and indulgences?

His name יוסף is numerically equivalent to מלך יון — the King of Greece, and to his name as well, אנטיוכס.  (156)

Binyamin, the 'father' of the tribe of his name, merited a descendant, Mordechai HaTzaddik, who would lead the Jewish nation back to a renewed acceptance of the Torah in the days of Purim.

These two, specifically, are known forever as ילדים — children.

Is there some secret within this appellation that contributed to their greatness that would manifest itself in future generations?

There is a common notion that children are naturally resilient. I believe it isn't automatically so. Only those children who were loved and felt secure in that love will be capable of overcoming trauma. A child whose parents instilled a sense of trust and devotion, by being even tempered, tolerant, and supportive, will nurture a child who will eventually translate that notion of security to a healthy belief in a G-d that is boundlessly loving. When one knows that G-d will always back him and has his interests always in mind, that child will never fear failure, nor disappointment, since he becomes secure in an unbreakable bond with the One who will be there for him and knows what is best for him.

Often as we mature, and are no longer innocent children, and we begin to develop notions of what 'I' like; what 'I' need; what 'others' have, we become anxious, fearful of missing out, and either become depressed or aggressive in pursuit of our desires.

A child though, who developed a healthy outlook on life, through a proper chinuch from parents who presented unquestionable love to their child, and modeled how we each have what we need in life, will parlay that experience into a trusting relationship with Hashem.

When Esav is proffered a gift from Yaakov, he declines saying, he has רב — much, and wouldn't want Yaakov to put himself out.

Yaakov, on the other hand, tells Esav not to worry, because has כל — everything, and will not lose out at all.

Many suggest that when Esav says he has 'much' he was exhibiting an unspoken desire for more, as if to imply he still hasn't achieved possessing 'everything'. Yaakov, in contrast was clarifying that he needs nothing and is happy with whatever little he has.

But Rashi indicates there was something deeper being discussed. Quoting the Tanchuma, he explains that Esav was expressing that he had, יותר ויותר מכדי צרכי — much more than he ever needed.

I believe that what Yaakov was saying is that in the life of one who lives with trust in a G-d that provides what I need, it is never about me, but rather how I can use that bounty or paucity of it, into utilizing it in serving G-d. There is never more or less, but just right.

Esav lived with a worldview that I control my destiny and can accumulate more than I ever need, since need is only inward as far as how I can ingratiate myself, not to use my assets for others.

Yaakov is teaching Esav that by his presenting a gift to his brother it gives him the greatest pleasure. It is a benefit that goes beyond material value, it comes from a place where there is never a loss or reduction of assets, for worth is measured by purpose and its promotion of values and goodwill.

Children have an exuberance for life because their needs are taken care of, and they haven’t been poisoned by the pursuit of unnecessary desires.

That innocence and enthusiasm will be preserved into adulthood if they were raised by parents who taught them lovingly the message Yaakov sought to convey to Esav.

The love from a parent also is imperative to ward off a child's sense of unworthiness. A child must never feel he is missing out because he is unworthy, because that sense of defeat will leave him feeling deserving of G-d's rejection, leading to a sense of abandonment and dejection.

In the story of Purim, many in the nation felt disconnected from G-d. The power of Amalek, in the guise of Haman, played on their disunity and lack of enthusiasm in planting doubt in their minds that G-d had abandoned them.

It was Mordechai — a descendant of that beloved 'boy' Binyamin, who despite the trauma he experienced with the loss of his mother in childbirth, and his adored older brother sold to slavery, maintained his youthfulness, never despairing — that roused the nation to their senses.

During the exile of Greece, the people became enamored with the notion of self-determination, independent of a guiding hidden force behind every circumstance in life that was for our best interests, maneuvered by a loving parent, G-d.

The passionate 'sons' of Mattisyahu the Kohen Gadol embodied the youthful determinism of Yosef — one isolated soul amongst a nation of beasts, who withstood the pressures to forsake his religious beliefs, and personified one who 'Hashem was with' at all times.

This past week we have been overwhelmed by the ardor of young children who were cruelly held captive, retaining their innocence and joyfulness despite their ordeal. It was no doubt due, as evident in the many videos shared, by loving and devoted parents, whose love instilled within them despite the distance the fortitude to preserve it.

The Prophet Hoshea describes how we are the נער ישראל — the young child Israel, ואוהבהו — and He loves us.

We are all the beloved children of Hashem. We are forever youthful.

We are in the longest exile that of Edom. This is our moment of truth.

Will we maintain the exuberance in our service to Hashem, knowing how worthy we are, never doubting whatever circumstance we face that 'Hashem is with us'?

As we approach the Yom Tov of Chanukah, may the legacy of these 'holy children' inspire us to rediscover our youth!


צבי יהודה טייכמאן