Creating a positive future for the next generation
Creating a positive future for the next generation
By Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita
In Poland during the years that Chassidus was first growing, there were great tzaddikim who shunned the limelight and actively refused to become communal leaders. One such holy soul was the Reb Hershel of Gidshell who as a youth studied under the Gaon, the Noda B’Yehuda . As he matured he took it upon himself to live a secluded life, moving to the village of Gidshell and making his parnossah from brewing mead. The tzaddikim of his day knew of his greatness and several times sought to pressure him into becoming a Chassidic leader. After the petirah of the Rebbe, Reb Bunim of Pshisk ztl, his son, the Rebbe, Reb Avrohom Moshela went with the elder Rebbe of Vorka, Reb Yitzchok to Gidshell to try to persuade Reb Hershel to take on the leadership of the chassidim. Their mission failed in that he remained steadfast in his refusal, wanting to remain as it was under the radar of the masses and continue his holy avodah in seclusion. Their visit came as the Torah portion of Re’eh was being read, and as is the custom the two guests spoke in learning with regard to that parsha. After some time remaining silent, Reb Hershel remarked with typical Polisha sharfkiet, “Re’eh anochi, every Yid should look within himself”. He understood that the two tzaddikim had come to gaze at the manner in which he served Hashem. He wanted them to realize that the key to all avodas Hashem is having a clear and truthful self-awareness. Simply put, “Look within yourself, not within others!”
“Our avodah starts within ourselves and not by seeking faults in others”
Our generation is decidedly a fragile one, and we need to act accordingly. Youngsters do not respond to harsh speeches that point out all that they are doing wrong. It may not be how we were brought up but the reality of today is that the younger generation is not open to such approaches. Instead, we need to speak with warmth and understanding, offering tools to our young that will facilitate their looking within themselves and finding out what it is that may be impeding their growth. In this pain- filled world ripping into someone will only cause him to build a defensive wall that will not allow anyone any real entry. So how can we penetrate these walls? By offering calm, safe words that allow for troubled hearts to begin to heal. If we offer them the patience needed, with positive input, then troubled neshomas can learn to look within their private reality and see what it is that is hurting. This can be the first step in rebuilding oneself and creating a new life of shalom.
One of the greatest positions we can have in today’s mosdos is that of mentor, especially for teenage boys and even more so for young ladies. Mentoring is the key that facilitates troubled youngsters sharing their inner hurt with those seeking to help.
Teaching as in yesteryear or speaking as one did fifty years ago will only close the hearts of the listeners and create more anger.
Young boys and girls are walking the troubled streets of their minds, not feeling any connection with Hashem or their community. Connection can only be established in a non-judgmental environment where these youngsters can speak from their hearts and examine their pain with some realistic clarity.
Many will now be thinking: When we were young we towed the line and didn’t whimper about things. Today’s kids are just spoilt; they need a little discipline, like our parents and teachers imposed on us!
Well, let’s have a reality check for a moment. All that discipline, did it really make all of us better? Did the harsh tone make us more responsive? Perhaps it just drove some into protective cocoons of indifference that allowed them to get on with things without too much trouble?
On another level this could then be the meaning of what the Rebbe, Reb Hershel said way back then. If we look into ourselves a little more we just may learn that things aren’t as rosy as we pretend. Perhaps if we could learn to admit to our own pain and needs we could accept the difficulties facing others, especially our youth. By looking within ourselves we can realize shortcomings that aren’t all that different from those of others. Looking within may just be the clarion call we need to create the positive future for the next generation.
I am not saying that we are all hurting; only that the inner tension is a sign that our neshoma is seeking to fulfill its tikun and until this goal is met we can never be at peace. With this realization we can accept that our avodah starts within ourselves and not by seeking faults in others. This is the tool our young can learn through our example, and it is this that we owe them.
Elul is a time to hear the call of the shofar. Let its cry awaken our inner self. Let’s stop allowing the sounds of the outside muffle the needs we have within. This period is Hashem’s gift to Klal Yisroel; let us use it to the maximum advantage.