"I don't want to go to school," my son protested. "I'll go if you come too."

I felt myself in a dilemma. I didn't blame my son for not wanting to go. Not only was he facing a new school and a new teacher, but new peers, and most difficultly, a new language. I debated, "Should I go with him?" How I wanted to go and hold his hand and sit beside him, or even place him on my lap. But was this the best thing? Would he grow and blossom, could he adapt quickly and learn the language if I kept holding onto him?

Would he grow and blossom, could he adapt quickly?I held his hand until he went on the school bus; I kissed him and then sent him on his way, alone. The whole time he was in school, I found myself thinking of him, worrying about him, praying for him. The phone would ring and I'd grab it, thinking that maybe it was his teacher telling me to come pick him up.

"Why G‑d, do You stand at a distance, do You conceal Yourself in times of distress?" (Psalms 10:1)

There is a famous parable about a child who is learning to walk. First, the child held on tight to its father as they walked together ever so slowly. The father let go of one hand and then the other. The child stumbled and fell. The father picked up the child and repeated the process. This time, the child took a step on its own. The father moved further away from the child, motioning for the child to come. Again, the child took a step forward. Again, the father took a step back, away from the child. The child's steps became steadier. Farther apart and yet closer together, the child and father walked until the child was able to walk on its own.

I remind myself of this parable when I think about the same time last year, when my son started preschool. The group was smaller, the language was familiar, but it was scary and challenging for him just the same. In those first couple of weeks, the teacher called me, worrying, "He doesn't speak. Your son doesn't say a word to me." Patience, patience, one step at a time. Soon, she called to tell me what a joy he was, that it was he was the one who always answered the questions.

I often find myself in a situation where I feel so distant and far from G‑d. I look up to the sky and I call out, "Are You there? Tatteleh (Daddy), are You with me?" Like the father in the parable, G‑d gives us His hand to hold, but in order for His children to grow and learn to walk, He then lets go and takes a step back. Like the mother who sits at a distance by the phone, He is always waiting to hear from us, always alert and on call.