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Gateshead Rov on Education for Our Children
Gateshead Rov on Education for Our Children
Gateshead Rov on Education for Our Children
Gateshead Rov on Education for Our Children
Gateshead Rov on Education for Our Children
Gateshead Rov on Education for Our Children
Gateshead Rov on Education for Our Children
Gateshead Rov on Education for Our Children
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Gateshead Rov on Education for Our Children

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The fundamental points of Chinuch: start when a child is young and it has to be age appropriate and then continue as the child gets older. Chinuch has to be על פי דרכו – according to the innate …

The fundamental points of Chinuch: start when a child is young and it has to be age appropriate and then continue as the child gets older. Chinuch has to be על פי דרכו – according to the innate natures that Hashem gave the child. It means to accept a child’s limitations and recognise their abilities. If rebuke has to take place, it has to be positive. The parents must give over their message in the same voice. The primary mode of Chinuch today is by role modelling, primarily our motivations.

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  • 1. 1Gateshead Rov 5771 ‫חינוך הבנים והבנות‬Before I start this drosho, I must issue a disclaimer: In a professional capacity I’ve never taughtany children. I don’t know if I have taught anyone under the age of nineteen and almosteveryone that I have taught is married. Even on a personal level, my part is that I didn’t ruin ourchildren.The possuk in Mishlei (‫ )כב:ו‬reads ‫.חנוך לנער על פי דרכו – גם כי יזקין לא יסור ממנה‬Rashi explains that ‫ עפ דרכו‬means that one should educate in a fashion that is appropriate forchildren. Children are educated in a different way than teenagers and adults. There is a differentmethodology for each age group.Reb Yisroel Salanter writes on the words ‫ – גם כי יזקין לא יסור ממנה‬that the education of childrennever stops. The Steipler used to say that he davens for his children’s success in learning. He saidthis even when his son Reb Chaim Kanievsky was fifty two years old and had global re-known.The Vilna Gaon writes that every person has inherent natures, and the way in which we wereborn cannot change. The job of parents and educators is to channel these natures to be used ina positive way.Anyone who has a few children can appreciate that you can have two children growing up in thesame house and they’re totally different. Whatever mazel that person was born in, it will affecthis personality and this won’t change. The Gaon brings proof to this from the Gemora inShabbos that says that one who was born under the mazel of ‫ ,מאדים‬one of a few things willoccur. If he’s a Tzadik he’ll become a moihel. If he’s mediocre then he’ll become a shoichet or asurgeon. If he’s a rosho then he will become a murderer. This Gemora is telling us that a personcannot change his ‫ - תכונות‬his characteristics, rather they can be directed positively ornegatively. We have to recognise our children’s inherent nature and develop it.If you try and change these characteristics when they’re younger then you might succeedbecause you are bigger and stronger. But as your children grow older and become and feelindependent then at best they will ignore you and at worst they will rebel. If you try andeducate a child ‘your way’, ‫ על פי דרכך‬then they will stray from you. Only if you do it ‫על פי דרכו‬according to his innate nature then you will merit the fulfilment of ‫.גם כי יזקין לא יסור ממנה‬In the Choivas Hatalmidim written by the Piaseczno Rebbe, he writes how to train children. Hewrites that the word ‫ חינוך‬is found as the root of the word ‫ חנוכה‬as in ‫ .חנוכת הבית‬In our religiona ‫ חנוכת הבית‬a house dedication is made once a house is complete. In other societies they mightmake a ground breaking ceremony where a golden is shovel is used symbolically to commencethe building work. (Even if we may have heard of an ‫ הנחת אבן הפינה‬in our own circles, then you ‫חינוך הבנים והבנות‬
  • 2. 2should know that it is adapted from the general society and is often used as a fundraisingopportunity.) What’s the difference between a house dedication and a ground-breakingceremony? At a ground breaking ceremony every possibility exists. One can take the tools andbuild whatever one wants. At a ‫ חנוכת הבית‬the house is there; it has X number of rooms and Yamount of space. At the ceremony you can take that which is there already and dedicate it forits proper use. That’s the same idea with Chinuch; you have to accept the child for what he is.The Choivas Hatalmidim writes that the concept of ‘educating a child in his own way’ has alwaysbeen important. But until WW1 the world lived in an era of respect and children did what theirparents wanted them to do even if they weren’t educated properly. The upheaval caused byWW1 and the destruction of family and communal unity brought about the eradication ofrespect and from then on ‫ חנוך לנער על פי דרכו‬became the only way to educate our children.Therefore the only way to raise children is to make a ‘‫ ’חנוכה‬on what the child has.This was written in 1930. But imagine if the Piaseczno would have lived today and seen thedisrespect for authority that exists. We know that which the Mishna says ‫בעקבתא דמשיחא חוצפא‬‫ .יסגא‬What does that mean? Will there be more Chutzpa as we approach Moshiach than therewas in previous generations? Rav Shimon Schwab writes that Chutzpa has always existed;children have always wanted to test boundaries. But it used to be that Chutzpa was seen as aflaw, something was wrong with such a person. The Mishna tells us that there will be an agethat Chutzpa will be seen as a ‫ ;מעלה‬parents will be proud of their children’s Chutzpa to thepoint that if a child shows no Chutzpa he might be regarded as having a problem with his self-esteem. This is what is meant by ‫.חוצפא יסגא‬The word ‫ חנוכה‬comes from the word ‫ .חינוך‬Rav S R Hirsch writes that Chanukah is the holidayfor ‫ .חינוך‬Rav Hirsch was the Rov in Frankfurt, and the last Rov in Frankfurt before the war wasmy grandfather Reb Josef Jonah Zvi Horowitz. He said over once in a speech that the lawssurrounding Chanukah represent the guidelines of ‫.חינוך‬Firstly there is ‫ .מצות חנוכה: נר איש וביתו‬The allegorical lesson is that the Mitzvah of Chinuch isthat every house has its own type of Chinuch. Every house has its own Mesorah.The ‫ מהדרין‬light one candle for every extra day of Chanukah; they recognise that a child at eachage needs a different type of education. What may work for younger children will not work asthey grow older.‫ ;והמהדרין מן המהדרין – נר לכל אחד ואחד‬this refers to understanding that what worked for onechild won’t work for the next one. One needs to light a new light, open up a separate path foreach child. ‫חינוך הבנים והבנות‬
  • 3. 3Then we know that there is the Machloikes between Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel whether welight one more candle each night (Starting from 1) or one less than the previous night (startingfrom 8). Beis Shammai’s opinion corresponds to the bulls brought on Sukkos in descendingnumber which represent the 70 gentile nations. The candles are therefore analogous to theforeign influences that exist and are minimised as the child grows older. When Beis Hillel say‫ ,מוסיפין והולכין‬they view the candles as being analogous with ‫ לימודי קודש‬which must increase asthe child grows older.Then there is the law, ‫ .נר חנוכה שהניח למעלה מעשרים אמה – פסולה‬The metaphorical lesson overhere is that if you set the bar too high for the child and your goals are above his abilities thenthe ‫ חינוך‬is ‫.פסול‬Following that is ‫ .למטה משלשה טפחים – פסולה‬If you don’t help the child to get off the ground,then this too is a ‫.חינוך פסול‬‫ .נר חנוכה מניח על פתח ביתו מבחוץ‬In the ‫ מעוז צור‬sung after lighting the Chanukah candles, wesay ‫ ופרצו חומות מגדלי‬and this is a reference to the ‫( סורג‬the border which marked up untilwhere gentiles were allowed access and which was ten tefochim high). What was the purpose ofthe ‫ ?סורג‬The Rosh explains that this made the Beis Hamikdosh a ‫ – רשות היחיד‬a private domain.The Greeks didn’t like the differentiation between the public and private domains; they wantedto bring the culture of the street into our houses. Our world view is quite the opposite; we needto shut out the influences from the street. And we don’t stop there, we want the light from ourhouse – represented by the Menorah – to be seen and felt in the street. We need to impact theoutside from within. These are the lessons of Chinuch that we learn from Chanukah.Yaakov Ovinu called together the Shevotim and gives them what is called the ‫.ברכת יעקב‬Now, imagine the scene that took place when Yaakov is about to give his ‘famous last words’. Hecalls in Reuven and tells him – words that he’ll remember forever – ‫ ,פחז כמים אל תותר וכו‬You’rea hasty person, you’ll never be king. Next, he calls Shimon and Levi and tells them ‫ארור אפם כי עז‬‫ – וכו‬you have terrible tempers!Yehuda sees all of this and starts to run away. Till Yaakov calls him back and blesses him – ‫יהודה‬‫ .אתה יודך אחיך וכו‬These are very strange brochos! Surprisingly the parshah ends off ‫איש אשר‬‫ – כברכתו ברך אותו‬everyone got an appropriate brocho.What type of brocho is it to be admonished as being too hasty or having a terrible temper?Says Reb Yeruchem – the biggest blessing for a person in this world is to be told his abilities andlimitations. That is what a real brocho is.Reuven was the oldest of the Shevotim and had a right to expect to lead Klal Yisroel, but becauseof his hastiness was disqualified. Imagine had Yaakov never told him about this issue. Reuven ‫חינוך הבנים והבנות‬
  • 4. 4might have walked around his whole life feeling frustrated and disillusioned because he doesn’tknow his limitations. So that’s why Yaakov called him and says warm words – ‫– כחי וראשית אוני‬expressing pride in his first born. Yet at the same time he adds ‫ – פחז כמים אל תותר‬because youhave the limitation of being too hasty, leave the leadership for others. Yaakov then calls inShimon and Levi and compliments them ‘‫ ’אחים‬you act like brothers. Rav Hirsch explains thatthey were the only ones who felt and acted like brothers when Dinah was abducted. But on theother hand ‫ ,ארור אפם כי עז‬they had terrible tempers and therefore ‫ אחלקם ביעקב‬I’ll spread youout amongst Klal Yisroel and you will be teachers, for that’s the job that fits your personality. ToYehuda he said ‫ – אתה יודוך‬you showed the ability to admit your responsibility; such behaviourmeans that you are fit to be a king.This, says Reb Yeruchem is the biggest brocho, to be told about your abilities and limitations is ablessing. Then you will know what to develop and yet also what not to strive for in order not tofeel frustrated.When you are ‫ מחנך‬your children, you have to recognise their abilities and limitations. You haveto find the abilities of your children and develop them. It is said about Esther that she wasorphaned and Mordechai raised her like a daughter. Reb Yeruchem writes that when writingthat he raised her, the Megilla uses the word ‫ – אומן‬a word implying ‫ .אמונה‬This goes to teach usthat Mordechai showed that he believed in her and her abilities. Esther went to live in thepalace of Achashveirosh without divulging her true identity and then had to confront bothAchashveirosh and Homon together – indeed a tremendously difficult mission. The least likelycandidate for the job would be an orphan; someone who might feel insecure and not really sureof where she really belongs. Nevertheless it was Mordechai’s confidence in her that helped herdevelop the abilities inside.In the Choivas Hatalmidim by the Piaseczno Rebbe, there is an anecdote where two parentsonce came to him with a Chinuch issue; they had a child who was extremely stubborn.So the Rebbe asked them, “Have you tried bribing him?” and the parents assured him that theyhad tried that. He continued to ask and said “Did you threaten him, did you punish him, and didyou force him?” and again they replied in the affirmative. The Rebbe smiled and said “If that’sthe case then, that you have a child who isn’t willing to be bribed or threatened, neither forcednor cajoled that means you have a potential Chassam Sofer on your hands. Who was theChassam Sofer? Didn’t he live in a period of strong influence from the Reform and other groupsthat bribed and threatened, forced and cajoled and yet he didn’t budge one iota? You sonseems to show the same capabilities”.In other words, his message was “Look at your child, develop their abilities and accept theirlimitations”.If we have expectations above their abilities, we guarantee to make them feel a failure and theywill vent their frustrations at the people who caused them to feel like that. Therefore thebiggest brocho in the world is when parents raise their children with the system “I know my ‫חינוך הבנים והבנות‬
  • 5. 5child’s strengths and limitations. I accept their limitations and will develop their abilities”. This isthe true application of ‫.חנוך לנער על פי דרכו‬Another way of interpreting ‫ על פי דרכו‬is that it is important that a child be educated in a waythat he can relate to; something that is age appropriate.I heard a pshat in the name of Rav Ungar ‫ .זצל‬He says that when the Oron came back from theland of the Pelishtim, Dovid was dancing in front of it. However his wife Michal bas Shaul wasupset with his behaviour – as the possuk writes ‫.והיה לבוז בעיני מיכל‬Yet what does the possuk say about Michal as a result of her reaction? She had no children tillthe day she died. Why did she deserve such a terrible punishment?Rav Ungar explains that Michal recognised the true spiritual level of Dovid. Therefore accordingto his level – that of one who can cleave to the Divine Prescience - he should have stoodemotionless in front of the Oron; totally absorbed – as if in a trance. So why was he dancing?Because there were many people assembled there and those people couldn’t have related toDovids feelings had he just stood still at such an event; therefore Dovid danced in front of theOron as a way of showing the simple people the importance of the Oron. Michal may have evenunderstood Dovid’s motives, yet she felt that it wasn’t correct for him to lower himself to showthe other people how to respect the Oron.Hashem’s message to Michal was, “If you think that you’re not supposed to lower yourself infront of others in order to educate them, then you’re not worthy of raising children. You can’ttell children ‘I’m an adult, be an adult just like me’. You have to lower yourself to your childrenand bring them up slowly”. It wasn’t a punishment for Michal, Hashem simply told her that if shedoesn’t appreciate this point in education – then fine. She won’t have to educate anyone.When I said this point over once at a wedding in Gateshead, the Rosh Yeshiva Reb AvrohomGurwitz came over to me to bring to proof to this point. He quoted from Chazal on this possukby Michal ‫ ;לא היתה לה יילוד עד יום מותה‬it was only up until the day that she died that she had nochildren, but on the day that she died she gave birth. Michal deserved to have children; she justdidn’t know how to raise them, so they ended up being raised by someone else.‫ – חנוך לנער על פי דרכו‬you have to know how to lower yourself to the child to explain it in theirlanguage and using a methodology that they understand. ‫ חנוך לנער‬however doesn’t mean thatyou have to lower yourself; that you become their friend. They have enough friends, they justneed parents.Rav Hirsch brings this point out when he writes on the possuk ‫ ,כבד את אביך ואת אמיך‬read thishomiletically respect your own fatherhood and motherhood; act like a father, act like a mother.If Hashem granted you the merit of becoming a parent or grandparent then act like that.Not only does ‫ חנוך לנער‬apply when you are explaining something to the child, but for thatmatter when you are rebuking a child or anyone else. The possuk reads ,‫אל תוכח לץ פן ישנאך‬ ‫חינוך הבנים והבנות‬
  • 6. 6‫ .תוכח לחכם ויאהבך‬The Shloh Hakodosh says on this possuk, what does it mean that weshouldn’t rebuke a ‫ ,לץ‬rather we should rebuke a ‫ ?חכם‬It sounds preposterous! Don’t rebukethose who need to be rebuked because they don’t like that, go around and look for a ‫ חכם‬andgive him mussar because he likes that. It’s going to be useless!So the Shloh explains that the possuk is teaching us about the methodology of giving mussar.One can rebuke someone and tell him – you’re a ‫ – לץ‬you’re a ‫ – רשע‬you’re bad. That person isjust going to hate you. On the other hand, you can tell someone - You’re great – You’rewonderful, but what you did ‘pas nicht’ – you can do better. Such rebuke raises a person. This ishow we read the possuk ‘‫ ’אל תוכח - לץ‬don’t rebuke a person by calling him a ‫ ,לץ‬rather ‘ – ‫תוכח‬ ‫ ,’לחכם‬tell him that he’s a ‫ – חכם‬from you we can expect more – then he’ll love you.In the parshah of the ‫ בן סורר ומורה‬it says that the parents declare their son to be a ‫– זולל וסובא‬he’s a drunk! (In contemporary terms we would be talking about a drug addict) and then ‫איננו‬‫ – שומע בקולנו‬he doesn’t listen to our voices. The Torah tells us ‫ – ימות זכאי ואל ימות חייב‬better todie innocent than to die guilty of serious crimes.The Gemora (.‫ )סנהדרין עא‬tells us however that in reality the ‫ בן סורר ומורה‬never occurred. Thisis because the criteria for him to be killed are too difficult to be found. For instance it says ‫איננו‬‫ – שומע בקולינו‬the parents say “our child isn’t listening to our voices”. The Gemora says that theusage of such grammar in the ‫ פסוק‬insinuates the degree of synchronization with which theparents must be heard, be that in voice, appearance and height. Therefore this only applies toparents who look the same, sound the same and are the same height.Rav Hirsch writes that when parents educate their children, they can’t give conflicting messages.Even if they aren’t giving conflicting messages they can’t show conflicting attitudes ofimportance; they can’t have a conflict of values, different things that they value. Why? Becauseif the parents don’t have a united front, if there is a conflict, then it’s not the child’s fault that heended up being a ‫ .בן סורר ומורה‬Rather, it’s a problem with the chinuch in the child’s house –therefore they don’t kill him.‫ ,עד שיהיו שניהם שווים בקול‬this means they have to talk the same. ‫– עד שיהיו שניהם שווים במראה‬they have to show the same attitude. ‫ – עד שיהיו שניהם שווים בקומה‬they have to show that theyhave the same value system. Only when the parents have the same values can they expect thechild to listen to them.This is a tremendously important point. I can’t tell you how many times this happens – but beingin Rabbonus for years I see it happening the whole time – parents come to me with a dilemma; afather prefers to be stricter whereas a mother advocates a more lenient approach (or viceversa). They want to know what the correct approach is. I tell them “It doesn’t matter which isright. It’s only important that you say the same thing. I’ve seen children from strict homes thatcan become successful, and I’ve seen children from lenient homes that have become successful.The only house where I haven’t seen success is where the father says one thing and the mothersays another”. ‫חינוך הבנים והבנות‬
  • 7. 7Invariably upon hearing this, one parent will tell the other “You see, you should do it my way...”The Choivas Hatalmidim asks, How can you educate children in an era in which there is norespect for authority? He answers that the only way to do it is through being a positive rolemodel. It may not help educate your children straight away but eventually your children will pickit up.Reb Yaakov Kaminestsky use to say, “If you see a father bring his young son to Shul and thenshushkers him when he starts to talk, then one day this son will also shushker his children inShul, because that’s what he saw his father doing. If the father would daven peacefully in hisplace, then one day the son will do that too”. Chinuch is achieved by role-modelling.I want to say a vort to conclude. The possuk in Tehillim ‫ קיב‬reads: ‫אשרי איש ירא את ה במצוותיו‬‫ ,חפץ מאד‬praiseworthy is the man who fears Hashem, and desires the Mitzvos greatly. This isthen followed by the blessing of ‫ ,גבור בארץ יהיה זרעו, דור ישרים יברך‬his offspring will be mightyhe will have an upstanding generation who will be blessed. On this possuk the Beis Halevy wrotetwo explanations. One he printed and one he didn’t print. We’ll learn both and see why the onehe didn’t print is a better explanation, yet we’ll understand why he didn’t print it.The Medrash asks – when it says ‫ אשרי איש‬can it possibly mean ‫ ?אשרי איש ולא אשרי אישה‬Surelynot! For surely a woman can also attain Yiras Shomayim. Rather it insinuates that the praise isbestowed upon one who achieves Yiras Shomayim when he is still an ‫ – איש‬a younger man. Andthe question begs of itself – does it really make such a difference as to when one achieves hislevel in Yiras Shomayi? Surely an older person can achieve Yiras Shomayim, so why isn’t hesimilarly rewarded?Answers the Beis Halevy, that for a person’s own merit it really makes no difference as to whenhe became a Yerei Shomayim. As long as he has worked on himself to become an ‫ - עובד ה‬hewill merit his place in Gan Eden. The possuk is talking about the level of influence over others -as we can see in the way the following possuk is referring to the blessing in one’s offspring. Theyounger that the person is when he attains Yiras Shomayim, the more he can influence hischildren. This therefore is the explanation in the possuk. Fortunate is the man who achieved hisYiras Shomayim when he was young. Why? Because then he will be able to influence hischildren.Then there is the pshat that he didn’t write (An oral tradition that I heard from Reb DovidSoloveitchik). The possuk ends off with the words ‫ במצוותיו חפץ מאד‬to which the Medrash infers‫ – במצוותיו‬the person desires the performance of the Mitzvos ‫ ולא בשכר מצוותיו‬and not thereward of the Mitzvos. ‫חינוך הבנים והבנות‬
  • 8. 8The question is, that it is true that it is ideal to serve Hashem with pure motives, but don’t weknow that even if someone can’t perform his Mitzvos ‫ לשמה‬then he can do it also ‫?שלא שלמה‬(‫ .)שמתוך שלא לשמה בא לשמה‬What’s so wrong with ‫?שלא לשמה‬The Beis Halevy gives a frightening answer, children may not listen to what we say but at leastthey copy what we do. home! Whatever motivates the parents, then that will be what thechildren gather and then they apply it to their life, culture and society.To illustrate, there might be a person who desire for honour is so great it motivates him tobecome a Dayan. It’s a respectable position that leaves room for a lot of honour. Under differentcircumstances this person’s son might become a priest! What motivated to him to becomepries? He learnt from his father to pursue honour and glory, so if society honours men of adifferent cloth, then he might venture into foreign houses of worship in order to achieveprominence.You might have another person who is prepared to wake up early and daven vosikin (with thesunrise). But his motive isn’t to fulfil the verse ...‫ ,ויראוך עם שמש‬it’s just that people will say “ahthere goes the vosikin Yied. His son might pick up on his dedication to working hard to achievewhat’s importance and rise early to open his office on a Shabbos morning.So although working ‫ שלא לשמה‬might be okay, it isn’t enough when trying to influence others.For to be an influence over others there must a worship with genuine motives. That’s why theMedrash tells us that the influence can only be successful if we love the Mitzvos and not just thereward for Mitzvos. If we serve Hashem out of the love for reward, then our children might pickup the reward from foreign sources. The fundamental point is that children copy their parent’smotivations, attitudes, strivings and aspirations but not merely their actions.I think that the second vort is nicer. But why do I say that? And why didn’t the Beis Halevy writethis down too? Reb Chaim Brisker, the son of the Brisker Rov said over that his father lived in atime when many families, including prominent ones were suffering as a result of their childrenhaving left the fold; they became heretics and mechaleli Shabbos. The parents may not haveunderstood why this had happened, cannot fathoming why their home bore such offspring.They sought solace in the idea that it was an outcome of the change in society in general thatcaused this. “I was worried”, said the Beis Halevy, “that someone might read this vort andsuddenly realise ‘maybe it is my fault’. Therefore it isn’t worthwhile to print the best vort if itwill hurt a person who is already broken”.Let us recap the fundamental points of Chinuch: start when a child is young and it has to be ageappropriate and then continue as the child gets older. Chinuch has to be ‫ – על פי דרכו‬accordingto the innate natures that Hashem gave the child. It means to accept a child’s limitations andrecognise their abilities. If rebuke has to take place, it has to be positive. The parents must giveover their message in the same voice. The primary mode of Chinuch today is by role modelling,primarily our motivations. If we can do this and strive for this, then with a lot of tefilla we shouldall merit ‫.גבור בארץ יהיה זרעו‬ ‫חינוך הבנים והבנות‬

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