Last Sunday, our family went to Newark Airport to see off our oldest child, our son Shalom, as he returns to learn in Yerushalayim. It’s the third year in a row that we have done so. Two days later, on Tuesday afternoon, we went back to Newark to accompany our oldest daughter Aviva as she headed off to seminary.

This is the first time that we have sent two children to Eretz Yisrael for the year at the same time. A friend quipped that it must be so quiet in our home. That’s definitely not the case. We, baruch Hashem, have other children to compensate, and then some.

The experience of accompanying a child to the airport before he/she leaves for the year evokes strong emotions. It also helped frame my role as a parent generally.

Throughout the last year, we discussed, contemplated, and explored options regarding which seminary would be best for Aviva. Over the course of the summer, we (“we” means my wife. I basically just tried to stay out of the way) worked hard to ensure that Aviva had all she needs, and that she feels prepared for the trip and the year abroad.

On the day of her flight, we loaded her luggage into the car and set off. When we arrived at the airport, we helped her bring her luggage inside. We waited on line with her until her luggage was checked in and then walked her to the beginning of the line for security check. Standing at the entrance of the security line was a TSA agent who only allowed the travelers to proceed. It was time to say goodbye.

As can be imagined, it was an emotional farewell. We watched Aviva proceed with anxious confidence, until she was out of view.

As I reflected on that experience afterwards, it dawned on me that it is a microcosmic analogy for parenting generally. During our children’s formative years, we invest incredible amounts of time, thought, and energy into trying to direct our children along the proper path of life. There is a great deal of frustration along the way as we juggle available resources while trying to properly steer each child onto the path best suited for his growth.

Education is not merely about compliance. It’s more about helping our children develop their inner strengths and learn to deal with their deficiencies and challenges. The goal is that our children should one day be equipped to “go out into the world” with confidence. We want them to overcome the inevitable hurdles and vicissitudes that life presents along the way.

There comes a point, or different points in different ways, in which we parents are no longer able to proceed with our children. We can only stand back and watch them proceed on their own. At that point, we can only hope that we have helped them pack their luggage well and ensure that they have all the necessary documentation and paperwork to be successful.

On Friday night, it is customary to recite the p’sukim beginning with the words “V’shamru B’nei Yisrael” just prior to Sh’moneh Esrei. The final word of those p’sukim is “va’yinafash – and He rested.”

The Gemara (Beitzah 16a) states that the word “va’yinafash” is a conglomerate of the words “vai avdah nefesh – woe, the soul has been lost.” It is a reference to the loss of the neshamah y’seirah – the “added soul” that we are blessed with on Shabbos.

The Baal Shem Tov asks why we allude to the loss of the neshamah y’seirah on Friday evening, moments after we merited its arrival with the advent of Shabbos?

He answers that if we are aware when Shabbos arrives that the neshamah y’seirah is only a temporary gift, we will make a special effort to embrace it and take advantage of it throughout the holy day. We declare from the outset that the gift is temporary so we can utilize it properly.

In a similar vein, wise parents recognize that the mandate, challenge, and opportunity to be m’chaneich their children don’t last forever. Surely, the role of a parent is always invaluable, but the role changes with time. If we are aware from the outset that there is a time limit to our mission, it helps us maintain the sense of vision and direction that we so easily became distracted from.

Our prayer, and the prayer of every parent, is that our children be able to eventually leave the secure confines of our home, knowing that we helped them pack their proverbial bags for the journey ahead.

Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW, a rebbe at Heichal HaTorah in Teaneck, New Jersey, is a parenting consultant and maintains a private practice for adolescents and adults. He is also a member of the administration of Camp Dora Golding for over two decades. Rabbi Staum was a community rabbi for ten years, and has been involved in education as a principal, guidance counselor, and teacher in various yeshivos. Rabbi Staum is a noted author and sought-after lecturer, with hundreds of lectures posted on He has published articles and books about education, parenting, and Torah living in contemporary society. Rabbi Staum can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  His website containing archives of his writings is