Bans are not Chinuch

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I suspect that some Mishpacha readers are beginning wonder whether the magazine has developed an obsession with at-risk youth ever since the well-publicized tour of chareidi MKs of the teen hangouts around Jerusalem’s Ben-Yehudah street. Mishpacha recently carried an interview with the highly respected Bnei Brak dayan Rabbi Yehudah Silman dealing, inter alia, with chinuch issues and featured the Novominsker Rebbe’s words to a group of mechanchim under the aegis of Binat Halev.

In addition, Rabbi Grylak, Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz, and myself have all addressed aspects of the topic more than once. (For the record, we do not discuss among ourselves or with the editors of Mishpacha what we are going to write about.) Even the English serial Black and White touched on it.

The objections of some readers on this score would be well taken if we were talking only about the obvious drop-outs from mainstream educational frameworks. If they were an isolated phenomenon, one could argue that they constitute the exception that proves the rule of our overwhelming success in raising children whose connection with the Ribbono shel Olam is vibrant and positive.

But the truth is that drop-outs constitute only the most glaring example of a larger probelm of alienation. That is why one famous lecturer on parenting bases almost all his examples on drop-outs: They serve to highlight more general problems in chinuch.

Drop-outs represent only one end of a continuum – the tip of the ice-berg. At the other end of the continuum are the hundreds of bochurim that one sees learning full-blast in the local beis medrash every bein hazmanim. In between, there is a whole range. And so it is among girls as well.

Anyone with eyes in his head knows that there are plenty of kids of both sexes who are still in regular yeshivos or Bais Yaakovs and, more or less, in uniform, but whose faces do not reflect much enthusiasm for their lives and for whom thoughts of the Ribbono shel Olam are rarely uppermost in their minds.

Signs of alienation among those still in the system are easy enough to pinpoint. Every time a proposal is raised to lower the burden of the army draft there are protests from certain segments of the chareidi world, who are concerned that any lessening of the fear of the army will result in many bochurim leaving the yeshivos. That response is itself an admission that there are those staying in yeshiva not out of a love of learning, but for negative reasons – fear that they won’t be able to find a shidduch or of the army.

Recently, the Jewish Observer pointed to a new phenomenon – or an old phenomenon that now has its own name: Adults at Risk. The phenomenon refers to middle-aged adults who suddenly wake up one day and realize that they have been going through the motions for years, perhaps decades.

In normal times, inertia keeps most members of any particular society within its ranks. But, in the long run, in a society such as ours that places many demands on the individual, inertia is not enough. Without the infusion of positive energy, at some point, whether in this generation or the next, social pressure will cease to do the job.

THAT MEANS WE HAVE to understand the meaning of chinuch. One of the master mechanchim of the last fifty years, HaRav HaGaon Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner, zt”l, used to say, “One does not educate with issurim.” Bans and efforts to throw up walls of protection around our youth (and ourselves) are, of course, crucial. No one in their right mind would downplay, for instance, the importance of the various efforts to limit Internet use or the development of ever more sophisticated Internet filters.

Separate seating for men and women on buses serving chareidi neighborhoods is a fine thing, especially during the early afternoon hours when the buses are full both of avreichim and seminary students finishing their school day. But I wonder whether one yeshiva bochur ever went off-the-derech because of the absence of such a separation or will be saved by their existence. Given the proliferation of temptations all around, such separations cannot substitute for learning to keep our eyes in our Gemara and our thoughts where they should be.

If we make the mistake of confusing bans and various safeguards with chinuch, we will inevitably fall prey to a number of illusions. One is that all our spiritual problems are a function of the surrounding society. From that illusion follows another: that we can somehow recreate the ghetto and erect walls around ourselves. Anyone who thinks that it is still possible to secure the fort through a multiplicity of lines of defense alone is living in a fantasy world.

Again, that does not mean that the defenses are not important. But at best they can do no more than secure us time for the much more difficult task of chinuch and infusing our children with excitement over the privilege of being born to a life of Torah and mitzvos. Without the latter, all our defenses will turn out to be new Maginot Lines, as easily skirted as the French fortifications on the Eastern front were by German troops at the outset of World War II.

Too great a focus on bans can lead to a false sense of security, and distract us from the primary task at hand, which is creating both an emotional and intellectual connection between our children and Torah. No less important than a child’s mastery of the material he is taught is the way that material is internalized.

HaRav HaGaon Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, used to give the example of a yeshiva student who has just learned the sugya of adam muad l’olam (a human being is always responsible for the damage he causes) in Bava Kamma. He breaks his roommate’s alarm clock, and attempts to disclaim responsibility on the grounds, “It was an accident. I did not mean to.” That talmid has not yet internalized the connection between his studies and life.

Precisely because chinuch is so hard, we all try to push off the responsibility to others, and content ourselves with the role of enforcers of boundaries. Parents leave to the chadorim the responsibility for answering their children’s basic questions in emunah. Meanwhile the chadorim act as if all such shaylos must have been answered in a proper home, and treat any questions as an act of rebellion, if not an attempt to negatively influence classmates as well. Similarly, if a boy awakens to a question in his high school years that did not bother him before, the reaction is often that all such questions should have been long answered. If instead of receiving answers or direction, the student sees that his question provokes anger and confusion, he may wrongly draw the conclusion that there are no answers.


Chinuch
requires the efforts of parents and professional educators working together, and the task of all of us as mechanchim is never done.

This article appeared in Mishpacha 13 Feb 2008

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42 Responses

  1. Dovid Kornreich says:

    >”May be R’ Rosenblum’s article actually reflects the views of some of the charedi leadership?

    Comment by Eliyahu”

    Anyone living in EY curently?
    We all would love to turn the clock back to the glory days of Rav Dessler, Rav Yaakov and Rav Moshe, RZSA, etc. when no kannoim encouraged destructive bans and all forms of kosher entertainment were tolerated. “I remember when…”

    But Chareidi leadership, for better or for worse, has moved on with new gedolim at the helm. If you don’t like the way they are handling things in klal yisroel, speak to them about it. Not to me.

  2. Eliyahu says:

    May be R’ Rosenblum’s article actually reflects the views of some of the charedi leadership?

  3. SBH says:

    In response to Dovid Kornreich’s comments: Is this article by R’ Rosenblum criticism aimed at Chareidi leadership? I don’t think that was R’ Rosenblum’s intention. He quotes Rav Hutner and Rav Moshe Feinstein, both of whom could be considered Chareidi leaders. I would imagine that the criticism of what you call the “ban-reflex” is aimed at helping parents and teachers make decisions when being mechanach their children and not an attempt to overthow Chareidi leadership.

  4. Dovid Korneich says:

    Zadok said above:
    There is a major difference between giving a Musser Scmooze and endlessly speculating and implying that a certain lifestyle (limited exclusivly to one of course) is the root of all of todays social ills. In fact such a focus is the opposite of Musser because Musser usually obligates the people listening.The above mentioned type of speculations are focused on others and give little output as to what the guy reading the editorial,satire etc. can do…

    I wholeheartedly agree.
    These editorials which criticize the chareidi establishment’s modus operandi is really a criticism of the chareidi leadership structure. The average chareidi on the street is not responsible for the ban-reflex to every chinuch crisis. It is hard to understand what these editorials can accomplish in terms of practical implemetation on the ground.
    What is the theory behind opinion-pieces in general? Why are opinion-makers a good thing to have in a chareid society when they turn their guns on the leadership and social policy issues?
    These questions should be addressed directly by Mishpacha Magazine.

    My speculatons (take ’em or leave ’em) are:
    1)One could say a positive reason is that these editorials are really aiming at the kaniom and the “handlers” of the gedolim only. The opinion pieces are trying to give them a bad name and make their positions socially unacceptable to the chareidi public at large.
    Maybe this will make kanoim less influential, but I don’t really see the logic in that reasoning. These kanoim, with all their righteous indignation, go straight to the top! They don’t care about the man on the street’s opinion of him or all unintended consequences of bans. He will not held accountable for them because he didn’t to the actual signing. That’s the whole problem.

    2) The less acceptable motive (in my mind) for editorials against public policy of chareidi leadership is to start a grass-roots movement that will swell with time and care to form a critical mass of discontent by the public for its current mode of leadership and decision-making process.
    The opinion-makers want change. They may not be sure what exactly the type of changes they want, or they may really want the gedolim to take charge and make what they feel are necessary changes. But the route to getting any change to happen, they think, is through popular discontent with the system.

    3) The least acceptable motive (IMO) is that this type of opinion-making in the media is really custom-made for a fully democratic society where the popular opinion really sets public policy in the long-run. Somehow, because we are now sophisticated chareidim with sophisticated print media of our own, we need to have the sophisticated opinion pieces that are critical of anything that deserves criticism in our society. That’s what all sophisticated people do, so we do it too.

    (Sorry for the mussar schmooze)
    Maybe the answer is “all of the above”?
    Anybody else have other suggestions about what is the constructive point of a editorial that is critical of public policy that is apparently aimed at chareidi leadership?

  5. Hillel says:

    Here is a third city that has separate train compartments for women only — Rio De Janeiro, Brazil:

    http://www.alternet.org/story/35753/

  6. HILLEL says:

    SPEAKING OF BANS:

    Dati-Leumi Rabbis are threatening to ban service in the IDF, because of the increasing pressure for “Gender Integration” — Pritzus — there.

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3508063,00.html

  7. HILLEL says:

    David and Jewish.Observer:

    Here is a link to women-only train cars in Tokyo, Japan:

    http://everyday.3yen.com/2005-04-12/women-only-trains-in-tokyo/

  8. HILLEL says:

    David and Jewish.Observer:

    Sorry, those are the only links I have to date. It’s obvious, I think, that women feel uncomfortable being thrown-together with men. That’s the reason for the increasing popularity of women-only taxis.

    Here is a refreshing perspective on the issue from Shira Schmidt of Jerusalem:

    http://www.chicagojewishnews.com/forums/showthread.php?t=238

  9. Baruch Horowitz says:

    ” Again, that does not mean that the defenses are not important. But at best they can do no more than secure us time for the much more difficult task of chinuch and infusing our children with excitement over the privilege of being born to a life of Torah and mitzvos”.

    The following assessment, made by R. Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg regarding one of the goals of R. Yisrael Salanter’s Mussar movement, seems relevant to the above, (Artscroll “Reb Shraga Feivel” pg 196, quoting “Men of the Spirit”, pg 243):

    “Rejection of the secular Haskalah is not enough…It is the nature of a new cultural trend to seep in through small crevices. Fighting it with prohibitions and excommunications alone will not stem the tide, for the spirit of man is not to be stemmed by mere force.

    The suppression of the spirit in itself is of no value. It cuts short spiritual development and results in but a spiritual sterility. The sole defense against a cultural movement breaking in from the outside is the establishment of an opposing cultural force, and the opening of doors to a fresh trend of thought, stemming from the very depth of our Jewish soul”.

    My comment, as in the quotation from the current post, is that R. Yisrael Salanter(and R. Shraga Feivel who followed his approach in this aspect) would not say that that some form of defenses are not vital, rather that defenses, in of themselves, do not make for inner development.

  10. Jewish Observer says:

    “That link is for taxi services, not for bus service. Why do you think they are the same?”

    – both are modes of transposrtation?

  11. David says:

    Hillel,
    That link is for taxi services, not for bus service. Why do you think they are the same?

  12. zadok says:

    David,
    If the articles in Mispacha are indeed representing the opinions of Talmedey Chachomim who have successfully established communities or schools with a low dropout rate and without the social ills and faults of the charedei community but with it’s strong points, Mispacha should inform us who they are, as I would love to join that community myself and send my children to their schools.
    Even assuming the readership of Mispacha is mostly charedei it doesn’t justify the (1)obssesion with percieved Charedei societal (rather the personal) faults (2)the rose colored glasses, and Mispacha’s refusal to deal with ‘issues’ when they are talking about the working world(or people who are professionals).As someone working in corporate America whose wife is involved in the medical profession I can think of many issues and pitfalls that go on here Mispacha NEVER acknowledges them.
    These are my last comments on this issue.

  13. HILLEL says:

    DAVID–Here is the link to other countries who are giving women separate taxi services.

    http://www.springwise.com/transportation/cabs_for_and_by_women_update/

    SHLOMO–Your point is well taken. The women are requesting the separate seating for their own physical protection.

    Would you kindly consider the possibility that HAREIDI MEN ARE REQUESTING THE SEPARATE SEATING FOR THEIR OWN SPIRITUAL PROTECTION.

  14. ES says:

    The above mentioned type of speculations are focused on others and give little output as to what the guy reading the editorial,satire etc. can do – zadok

    The best way to silence a voice of reason is to give it a title and say we are not they. The shtark yeshivish vs. Modern yeshivish is the next front in the battle -Anonymous

    Interesting question – who are the readers of Mishpacha? zadok suggests it’s the baalei-batim who support the kollel families, not the kollel families themselves. Anyone have demographics on Mishpacha readership?

  15. Shlomo says:

    HILLEL: Women-only sections are designed to protect women from abuse. In the charedi world we are talking about men-only, not women-only sections. I am modern-Orthodox-looking and male; whenever I’m on a charedi bus and there’s no room in the front, or else I have a female friend in the back, the charedim on board will suggest that I go sit in the women’s section. The people who insist on charedi buses do not expect that women will benefit in any way. This cannot be compared to countries where women have the *option* of sitting in a separate vehicle, if they so choose. (For example, in Cairo each subway has one car reserved for women and the rest is mixed)

  16. David says:

    Zadok,
    Furthermore, the readership of Mishpacha is generally Charedi. Where else should we discuss the issues and problems of these communities if not here? Or should we just play dumb and ignore everything? If they would be writing these articles in magazines that cater to different segments of Jewry, then I would agree that it would serve no purpose and it would seem to be to just gratuitously denigrate the Chareim. Since this is not the case, I reject your criticism.

  17. David says:

    Zadok,
    You seem to think that the articles in the Mishpacha are the products of the writers feelings only, and not the results of discussions with Talmedei Chachomim, and furthermore, that the writers are only interested in denigrating communities and not trying to pur forward solid comstructive ideas. I reject both of these ideas. Why don’t you contact Rabbis Rosenblum, Grylak, or Horowitz and ask them which people they spoke with if you don’t like their message. (I suspect that you won’t although I hope I’m wrong.)

    Hillel, I see the links for Mexico and Dubai, but I don’t see any information about this ‘revolution’ in other countries. Furthermore, your comparison is absurd. In those cases, it’s the women who want this. In this case, it seems, it’s being forced down the throat of people who are intimidated by violent ‘kanoim’. Or is the resulting Chillul Hashem also supported by 100% of the Gedolim?

  18. HILLEL says:

    Dear David–no.22

    Re: Separate seating for women on buses: You wrote:
    “But there is something called the real world and unintended consequences, and it’s my understanding that 100% of the Gedolim do not support the actual imposition of this.”

    I’m sorry, but this idea is sweeping the entire world. Women are tired of sexual abuse on crowded trains and buses. Here are some links for you explore:

    http://www.springwise.com/transportation/cabs_for_and_by_women_update/

    http://www.rtp.gob.mx/

    In Mexico City, where millions of women bus riders have long endured groping and verbal abuse en route every day, a new, women-only bus service aims to create a safer and more comfortable ride.

    Mexico City created women-only subway cars years ago, and police reportedly enforce the segregation at rush hour…

    Women-only buses and (subway) trains have also appeared in Egypt, India, Brazil, Taiwan, the Philippines and Japan, along with taxis in the UK, Russia, India, Dubai and Iran. This trend shows no sign of waning;

  19. HILLEL says:

    TO YONI SCHICK–no. 21:

    Your post is scary:
    “When a noted Rosh Yeshiva whom I greatly respect confides in me that he can’t intervene in these issues b/c he’ll be thrown out of town, then, we’ve got ourselves more than a problem, we have an epidemic.”

    This means that we are losing the war to maintain our Torah standards, because the public relations/advertising assault on our community is succeeding.

    We have no choice but to fight fire-with-fire and start an effective public relatios campaign within our own community immediately.

    The barbarians are at the gates!

  20. David says:

    ‘Separate seating on buses is a very good idea and continues to be supported 100% by every one of our gedolim. There’s simply no reason to criticize something that Maran tells us we should do.’

    I suppose that 100% of the Gedolim support this as a theoretical proposal. But there is something called the real world and unintended consequences, and it’s my understanding that 100% of the Gedolim do not support the actual imposition of this.

  21. zadok says:

    David,
    There is a major difference between giving a Musser Scmooze and endlessly speculating and implying that a certain lifestyle (limited exclusivly to one of course) is the root of all of todays social ills. In fact such a focus is the opposite of Musser because Musser usually obligates the people listening.The above mentioned type of speculations are focused on others and give little output as to what the guy reading the editorial,satire etc. can do

  22. Yoni Schick says:

    Reb Yonason,

    You have a hit the nail on the head-except that in today’s day, heads and tails are upside down.

    What a sad world it is when heads of our society are afraid of the frumkeit (see Alei Shor or Making of a Gadol for a defintion) of the supposed masses-then the tail is indeed wagging the dog (see the Gemara on Ikvesa D’Meshicah)

    When a noted Rosh Yeshiva whom I greatly respect confides in me that he can’t intervene in these issues b/c he’ll be thrown out of town, then, we’ve got ourselves more than a problem, we have an epidemic.

  23. HILLEL says:

    to “Jewish Observer” and Joel Rich:

    I personally know Gerer who have thrown out their videos because of the ban. These Gerer Chassidim also follow the Rebbe’s guidelines, even if they personally have a different opinion. This shows the maturity of this community. They realize that survival in this hostile world of Sodom and Gomorrah requires discipline, sacrifice, and unity.

    As to the reason why other communities do not accept bans from their Gedolim so readily, think p-r-o-p-a-g-a-n-d-a.–They are influenced by the constant barrage of the immoral, materialistic media: Tv, Internet, Newspapers, Talk Shows, Workmates, Billboards…you get the idea.

    With so much “static” in the environment, it is very difficult for our Gedolim to get their messages heard and accepted–Too bad!

  24. David says:

    ‘I do think it has an obsession with subtly, but endlessly bashing the Charedei world.’

    That’s interesting. I wonder what my Rav’s reaction would be if the next time he gives a strong mussar shmooze, I would accuse him of that.

  25. Michoel says:

    R. Harry Maryles has explained to us innumearble times that the articles of R. Yonason Rosenblum and others “take a lot of courage” for a charedi to write. With so many displays of courage around, one begins to wonder what exactly makes them so courageous.

  26. Jackie Oppenheim says:

    Rabbi Rosenblum warns: “If we make the mistake of confusing bans and various safeguards with chinuch…”

    Who ever thought that separate seating on buses was a chinuch tool? It’s a tznius tool, which applies to everyone, not a chinuch tool aimed at our youth.

    Separate seating on buses is a very good idea and continues to be supported 100% by every one of our gedolim. There’s simply no reason to criticize something that Maran tells us we should do.

  27. ES says:

    …there are two ways to motivate children. The first is by encouraging their strengths and emphasizing all the options they are permitted….[this] leads to bright, inquisiting and religiously self-confident adults. -Garnel Ironheart

    Have we been dumbed down? Is that where the bans, fearful efforts to protect us from the “outside” world, have led – an inability to discern where the risks lie for ourselves, so either we submit to ever-higher fences or risk entering the possibly-forbidden with inadequate internal fortification?

    While many things need to be off-limits to children, as they grow they also need education in why they are off limits, both understanding of danger and more importantly the richness of the Torah life that doesn’t need or want the influence.

    I am impressed to see the issue of skirting children’s questions within the schools addressed directly. It should be that a school welcomes the example to answer these questions, even if privately. Whether a question reflects maturity beyond a child’s years or represents immaturity, embracing the question (and questioner) shows an example to all the other students that the school really backs the idea that lo habaishan lomed – a shy student can’t learn (because they’re too shy to ask and clarify).

  28. zadok says:

    I don’t think Mispacha has an obsession with kids at risk per se.I do think it has an obsession with subtly, but endlessly bashing the Charedei world.I don’t think Mispacha however, that gives a viable alternative to the Charedei world (even assuming Mispacha is correct in it’s analysises)for one looking to find a world of Limud H’Torah ,Dikduk B’Halcha etc.

    My experience in real life has been that the big talkers about how Yeshivos should be run are usually either (1)apathetic about the value of Limud H’Torah or (2)when it comes down to it, unwilling to send their own children to schools that are run in a similar manner to the way they preach.

  29. Jewish Observer says:

    “WHY NOT???”

    – not the point. per your astute post, the point is WHETHER they do, not WHY they do or don’t

  30. Anonymous says:

    I think it is hard to commend Rabbi Rosenbloom as the voice of reason in the chareidi world. There is now the term “shtark” yeshivish for those chareidim who like the bans etc. The “modern” yeshivish are just not frum enough any more and won’t be listened to. The best way to silence a voice of reason is to give it a title and say we are not they. The shtark yeshivish vs. Modern yeshivish is the next front in the battle

  31. joel rich says:

    Hillel,
    Based on what evidence are you so sure that the ban is working?
    KT

  32. Daniel Shain says:

    Hillel – see my post above. This may be why these bans are not always respected.

  33. Daniel Shain says:

    Bans and other defensive stategies can be effective, but they have often been used to stifle questions and creative thinking. The bans on some controversial books that contain legitimate hashkafas but that may not fit the Charedi mold only serve to turn off and drive away people with questions who may be “adults at risk”.

  34. HILLEL says:

    “-this is a key point. it is not clear that this level of respect is out there for most gedolim who sign bans”–jEWISH oBSERVER

    WHY NOT???

  35. Jewish Observer says:

    “The Gerer Rebbe just issued a ban on computers and video in the home. It is successful, because the Chasidim respect the Rebbe immensely”

    – this is a key point. it is not clear that this level of respect is out there for most gedolim who sign bans

  36. HILLEL says:

    A ban is a very useful Chinuch tool, if you are confident of compliance and you have many alternatives in place. It serves to guide the community and provide standards for those who cannot think out every for themselves–most people.

    The Gerer Rebbe just issued a ban on computers and video in the home. It is successful, because the Chasidim respect the Rebbe immensely, and the Rebbe directed his people to find kosher alternative media.

    Of course, a ban does not provide positive content, it just provides a safe setting inwhich positive content can flourish.

    If you’re eating cyanide poison, no amount of broccoli and whole grains will save you. Similarly, if you are constantly being inundated by poronography and anti-Torah concepts and propaganda, no amount of positive Chinuch will save you.

    ..And, let’s not forget that successful Chinuch is always highly individualized, one child at a time.

  37. Harry Maryles says:

    Great article. It takes a lot of courage for someone associated with Charedi institutions and their leadership to write something like this.

    In my view every Charedi rabbinic leader ought to pay attention to what Jonathan Rosenblum wrote and do something about it. The alternative to inaction is now playing itself out and can only result in one of the biggest spiritual catastrophes of our time.

  38. Chaim Wolfson says:

    As I heard it, Rav Moshe was not just giving a theoretical example, he was referring to an actual incident. When his son, Rav Reuvein Feinstein, expressed amazement that the “bochur” would argue that he was not liable, given that the Yeshiva had just studied the “sugya” of “adam muad le’olam”, Rav Moshe told him that he was certain that in the elementary school the “bochur” had attended, they began Gemara study with “Maseches Berachos” rather than with the traditional “perek Elu Metzius”. The first two chapters of “Berachos” discuss the proper times for reciting “Shema” and for davening, and most probably the boy saw that his father was not so scrupulous with regard to these laws, and came to the conclusion that the laws in Gemara are “halachah v’lo l’maaseh” (theoretical, not practical, “halachah”). That’s why he thought that the law of “adam muad l’olam” had no practical relevance to him. Rav Reuvein researched and discovered that, indeed, in the “bochur’s” elementary school they began with “Berachos”! I was skeptical when I first heard this story, so I asked a member of the staff of Rav Reuvein’s Yeshiva if it was true. He verified the story, which he himself heard from Rav Reuvein. The lesson is clear: To be “mechanech” our children properly, we must first be “mechanech” ourselves.

    I recently read of a “psak” by Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach that relates to “chinich” in the home: People would often ask Rav Shlomo Zalman if they should recite the blessing of “boruch she’patrani me’onsho shel zeh” at their sons’ bar mitzvah. In most cases Rav Shlomo Zalman would tell them to recite the blessing without “shem u’malchus” (the Name of G-d). But Rav Shlomo Zalman himself DID recite the full blessing, and he instructed a select few to do the same as well! When his student, Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl, asked him about this seeming inconsistency, Rav Shlomo Zalman explained that parents are released from responsibility for their adult children’s transgressions only if they did all in their power to raise their children properly. If any of their children’s transgressions can be attributed to a lack of “chinuch” in the home, the parents bear responsibility no matter how old the child is. If such a parent would recite the blessing, he would be guilty of reciting a “berachah l’vatalah” (a blessing said in vain)! Therefore, unless Rav Shlomo Zalman knew the parents well, and was satisfied that they had fulfilled their “chinuch” responsibilities to the best of their abilities, he could not advise them to recite the full blessing. The implications of this “psak” are frightening!

  39. Baruch says:

    Dear Reb Jonathan,
    Years ago there was ban on having a TV and there were some prominent Gedolei Yisroel who refused to sign it because they felt that certain people would not listen and they would continue to have a TV so the ban would only make matters worse. There are many things that contribute to kids going off and I think a big reason is because many parents do not practice what they preach. My father OBM would rarely preach and tell his kids what to do but we all remember him getting up early to go daven with a minyan and learn then he would go to work go out to learn; learn in the house as well so we all received a picture of how a torah life has to be led. I think parents have to realize that kids are very perceptive and they mimick everything they see going on at home if they will remember this then we will all be better off. I think people have to be encouraged to learn because like it is written in Tehillim Perek 119 pasuk 92 that without torah I am lost. I know frommyself sometimes I can feel despondent so one has to force himself to learn and then he feels better. Unlike my father you see I like to preach and I have one more to say that Parents should be more concerned what is good for each particular child instead of doing certain things because that is what every one else does and not be concerend what the world thinks. We should always share in good news and the problem of Kids at Risked should be resolved very soon.

    Kol tov,

    Baruch

  40. Garnel Ironheart says:

    > I suspect that some Mishpacha readers are beginning wonder whether the magazine has developed an obsession with at-risk youth

    Well I should hope it has. What turns a couple into a “mishpacha” is children so you’d think their well being would be a major focus, if not THE major focus.

    In my experience teaching, I’ve found that one thing some teachers don’t get is that children don’t see the world the way they do. I may find nothing more relaxing than sitting with my Gemara and letting my mind grapple with its challenges. My young son has his own level of mental and intellectual maturity and will not see it my way. If I insist “But come on, Talmud’s amazing and fascinating. Why aren’t you thrilled to learn?” I’ll lose an important connection with him.

    The second problem I’ve encountered is the “one size fits all” system. Each child is unique in terms of approaches to learning and areas of interest. Although we don’t have the resources for it, there is no question that sitting 30 or more kids in a classroom and expecting them to all learn the same subject with the same enthusiasm is unrealistic. Some kids will thrive under that particular teacher or will be keenly interested in the subject, others will not.

    Third, as alluded to in the article, there are two ways to motivate children. The first is by encouraging their strengths and emphasizing all the options they are permitted. The second is by shouting “assur” at them all the time and constantly reminding them of what they cannot do. The former leads to bright, inquisiting and religiously self-confident adults. The latter leads to resent and bitterness.

    Now consider the yeshivah system – young children are handed subjects many adults can’t get their heads around, stuck in the same uniforms not just when they’re in school but all the time and expected to learn in the exact same way. Finally, the focus is all on what you can’t do. None of this, and don’t do that or people will think you’re a goy and you’ll never a get a shidduch, etc. There are certainly some gifted teachers out there who can pull off success in such a system but in an average classroom wiht an average teacher, this recipe will lead to some kids thriving and others quietly “dropping out”, mentally at first and the physically when they first get the change.

    The problem is that the Chareidi world, for the last several decades, has invested a great deal of time and energy into developing a system that suppresses individuality and optimism. It will take a great deal of change from the highest levels on down to change that attitude.

  41. BY says:

    “Without the latter, all our defenses will turn out to be new Maginot Lines, as easily skirted as the French fortifications on the Eastern front were by German troops at the outset of World War II.”

    While in the east of France, the Maginot Line is on the Western Front of the World Wars.

  42. str says:

    “That talmid has not yet internalized the connection between his studies and life.”

    I think this is the key to chinuch. In order to pass on inspiration, emuna, yashrus etc. we need to have internalized it for ourselves first. Only then can we expect students to be turned onto learning, excited about Judaism etc.