When Eisav finally arrives before Yaakov after being told that he is coming with 400 soldiers and prepared for war, Eisav becomes emotional and embraces Yaakov. He then asks Yaakov who all these “messengers” that he sent were and what was their purpose. Yaakov answered so he (Yaakov) “would find favor in Eisavs eyes”. Rashi comments that these messengers were Malachim who would ask Eisav and his followers who they were and when they said “Eisav and his men” the angels would hit them. They then would say “the son of Yitzchak and his men” and the “the grandson of Avraham and his men” but would still get hit. Only when they said “the brother of Yaakov and his men” did the angels leave them alone and show them respect.
The Sifsei Chachamim asks, if according to Rashi the angels came and hit Eisav and his men, how did this “bring favor to Yaakov in the eyes of Eisav? He answers that by Eisav seeing how much Yaakov is beloved by so many others, he was forced to reevaluate his perception of Yaakov and the way he judged him. Ultimately this brought him to love and embrace Yaakov.
Most teens today suffer from low self-esteem, confidence and self-worth. They feel incapable, ‘Ein Li Koach” or “I cant be bothered”. Because they have learned little academically, emotionally, and have little experience (and therefore few real accomplishments) they are confused and don’t really know themselves. These feelings are often the roots of what is holding a teen back and informs his behavior and decisions. We see in this weeks parsha that by showing them that they are beloved, making them FEEL loved, we can change their perception of themselves and ultimately come to love themselves as well. Once a child loves himself he will care about himself, his behavior, what others think of him, and his overall growth and success. Often there are people in a teens life who don’t believe in them. When those people see that we believe in this child and love them, it has an effect as well, and the feeling spreads to others that this is a child who can achieve and is worth the effort. In my experience, how much a teacher, madrich, instructor etc. feels their parents care about their kid and believe in them also effects how they perceive them. Lets all of us, parents and teachers, make sure the teens in our life don’t just know we love and believe in them but feel it as well.
Rabbi Ari Deutscher MSW