She doesn’t just walk; she practically glides along, with a light-hearted bounce. Her laughter is infectious, her giggle ever-present, even during the dull periods of the day. Every moment is an opportunity, a learning experience. Her world is a wonder to discover and she feels proud of even her smallest achievements.
She is my 4-year-old daughter, soon to be turning five. She’s at the age where she’s already developed a unique personality. She has gained sufficient understanding and maturity to reciprocate in our relationship. But she is still young enough that the heaviness of life’s issues has not yet begun to haunt her. Her joie de vivre is still intuitive, natural and spontaneous.
And yet, as I eagerly greet her smiling face every morning, I am keenly aware that now and in the immediate years to come – in her young childhood – her self-image is being formed. Every interaction, every exchange will forge an essential impression on her emerging psyche.
Like a delicate seedling in its tender years of maturation, she is now developing an awareness of herself and her place in this world. And with a sudden heaviness, I realize what an integral role I play in her feelings of self-value, and in whether her lightness and brightness will be enhanced or be diminished.
So, along with wanting to teach her so many things, so many skills, and so much knowledge about the world around her, more than anything, I want to teach her about herself. Foremost, I want to give her the precious gift of self-love – an inherent love, not because of anything she knows or does, but because of who she is, a creation of G‑d.
In these formative years, I want to teach her that her mistakes don’t detract from her value. That she can grow and learn – and should use these opportunities as an impetus for greater good – but she should never allow failures to chip away at her inner core, her cheer or her confidence.
I want to teach her that her accomplishments, talents, great personality and charisma are some of her winning attributes, but that her self-worth is not dependent on these or on how others view her. She is unique, unlike anyone else in the entire world. She has a mission that she, and only she, can accomplish.
And I want to imbue her with the feeling that my love for her is unconditional. Not because she is adorable, capable, bright or sweet, which she is. But just because she is mine. My daughter, forever and for all times.
These are formidable values that I want to impart. And yet, it is in these crucial, youthful years that she will develop this innate awareness of who she is.
Passover is the holiday when we became G‑d’s chosen people. In those crucial, first years as a nation, G‑d tangibly conveyed His love for us. We had no mitzvot, nor any merits and we didn’t deserve to be redeemed. Yet, G‑d showed us unconditional love that was not dependent on our spiritual strengths, talents or stamina.
He chose us not because of what we would accomplish in the years and millennia to come.
Not because we would accept His covenant, His rules, and His laws.
Not because of our dedication, self-sacrifice or commitment.
Not because we were to become a light unto all the nations and teach morality and goodness in every country where we would sojourn.
There are many other Jewish holidays when we commemorate, celebrate and rejoice in these particular aspects of our relationship and development as G‑d’s chosen nation.
But on Passover, in our youthful years as a nation, just as our self-image was being forged, G‑d wanted to convey to us His infinite love for us. Just because we are His.
Perhaps that is why, of all the many Jewish holidays, the one that is most observed – even by those who profess to be “unobservant” – is Passover and the Passover Seder.
For it represents G‑d’s love and connection to us that is timeless, unchanging and unconditional.
A love that is ever-present, irrespective of what we do. But simply because of who we are – His chosen one.
This innate love and self-worth has helped us to survive and thrive as a nation, throughout all of our years of growth and prosperity, and even times of suffering and difficulty – until today.
Watch Chana Weisberg’s two-minute videocast on www.chabad.org/intouch for your dose of weekly inspiration. Chana Weisberg is the author of several books, including Divine Whispers – Stories that Speak to the Heart and Soul and Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman.She is an international inspirational lecturer on a wide array of topics and an editor at chabad.org. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.