The grandeur of becoming true Jewish adults
The grandeur of becoming true Jewish adults
By Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita
Part of the responsibilities of a Rov today is not only learning with his community but choosing texts and subject matter that are pertinent to its unique needs. The Torah is eternal and vast; finding the answers for each generation’s challenges can be found in this ocean of the holy knowledge, but it sometimes isn’t quickly apparent.
We as a people are blessed with thousands of years of knowledge given over by each generation’s greatest of Tzaddikim. Their words and experiences give us direction and hope. The task each Rov faces is discovering these illuminating jewels and giving them over to the current generation.
We are all faced with enormous challenges, our young are troubled, and the chinuch we provide seems to be heroically chasing for answers and seldom getting ahead of the curve of events.
“The true goal of parents and teachers should be to raise good adults.”
There are, however, those unique seforim that await our perusal, holding sparkling wisdom between their covers, waiting for us to unlock their love for every Jewish soul. This week I have undertaken to learn with our olam the sefer Chovos Hatalmidim authored by the Kodesh, The Peasetzna Rebbe Zt”l. This beautiful gift from a previous age clearly speaks to our young and us, their parents. Let me share with you just a small sample of the Rebbe’s holy directions:
“We are accustomed to looking at today’s youth who have thrown off the yoke of Torah as if they alone are responsible for their sorry spiritual state. However, the verse from Parshas Vayera tells us: “For I have loved him [Avrohom], because he commands his children and his household after him that they keep the way of Hashem, doing charity and justice . . .” (18:19)
Every generation is a link in a chain that began with Avrohom Ovinu. Each generation derives its emunah / faith, Torah, and yir’ah / fear of Hashem from the preceding generation. Are our youth not descendants of Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov? Do they not possess holy souls? Let us not fool ourselves about who is responsible for the failures of our youth! Picture today’s rebellious youth in a prior generation; would they not have been Tzaddikim, or at least G-d fearing men and women? And why? Because their parents would have been more G-d-fearing than we are. Those generations would not have accepted the situation that we accept. They would never have shrugged their shoulders and neglected their duties. What excuses will we offer on the day of judgment?” The Rebbe asks.
He continues: What causes youth to reject the ways of their parents? The “primary” cause is that they see themselves as mature adults when, in fact, they are still children. A young person who has such feelings cannot be taught to live a Torah life by being lectured about mitzvah observance. Habit, also, will not keep such a young person on the path of mitzvah – observance. Rather, it is necessary to appeal to the youth’s feeling of self-importance. He must be convinced that he is a sapling that Hashem Himself planted in the orchard that we call “the Jewish People.” Only if the youth is made to feel that Hashem truly cares about his success can there be hope.
Some teachers see their job as lecturing children about their mitzvah- obligations. Some parents see their task as helping children develop good habits. Neither of these practices is “chinuch,” declares the Rebbe. Yes, they are tools of chinuch, but they are not the essence of chinuch.
A related mistake that many teachers and parents make, adds the Rebbe, is focusing their efforts on raising good “children.”
The true goal of parents and teachers should be to raise good “adults.”
The job of teachers and parents is to help the flower within each child blossom, i.e., to give each child the tools he or she will need so that the child’s holy neshoma will reach its full potential when the child does become an adult.
This requires discovering the unique potential within each soul and facilitating its development.
That is the essence of chinuch, and that is the true meaning of King Shlomo’s famous dictum (Mishlei 22:6), “Train the youth according to his way; even when he grows old, he will not swerve from it.” (Chovos Hatalmidim)
These are moving words, written out of a love for the future young of all generations. I take the task to learn these words of the Rebbe with trepidation, yet, his words were spoken with such sweet understanding that not to share them, no matter how awkwardly, would be a dereliction of duty.
So I start this week, and hope others will do so as well. Let us bring the grandeur of becoming true Jewish adults to all our holy children.
The Rov Shlita’s new series of Shiurim on
will take place each Wednesday at 8:30
Starting this week – Parshas Vayeira