Clear plastic which obscures the truth | Chovas Hatalmidim | By Harav Y Reuven Rubin Shlita

Clear plastic which obscures the truth

Chovas Hatalmidim week 6

By Harav Y Reuven Rubin Shlita

I just had a wrestling match with a lightbulb, or, to be more exact, its plastic wrapping. There was a time when light bulbs were quite easy to unwrap. They were in cardboard boxes that allowed easy access even with aged hands such as mine. Now they come in heavy plastic and cardboard which are not only childproof, but even impervious to anyone without cutting implements such as hacksaws! I needed a bulb for our Shabbos Lamp and after twice buying the wrong type, ( I won’t go into the science behind bayonet fittings versus screw ones) I needed to resort to hand to hand battle to free the bulb from the grasp of the plastic shield in which it was ensconced. Life certainly has its moments. They come our way to keep us on our toes.

“The inability to focus is borne out of a coldness that creates a sense of disinterest in our holy heritage”

The Rebbe ztl speaks about those youngsters who hide from life’s moments and the consequences which may follow.

“Laziness is probably the most harmful and most widespread ailment among young people. However, like any other fault, it varies from one person to another.”

He then goes on to describe some examples:

“One youngster might be completely lazy; he likes to sleep a lot and do nothing; any type of exertion is anathema to him. He has excuses for everything. He will forever be righteous in his own eyes, because he is full of excuses.”

In our world where distractions are a major industry, it is all too easy for a youngster to lose hours of his life immersed in an ephemeral world of nothingness. The colossus that is the entertainment business is totally given over to distract us all from what otherwise may be called “life.” It’s a challenge for each of us to remain focused on anything, much less the holy task of being a vessel of a Kiddush Hashem. Recent scientific studies have shown that today we have a shorter attention span than that of a goldfish. Researchers surveyed 2,000 participants in Canada and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms. The results showed the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to eight-seconds today.  Goldfish, by the way, register at nine seconds. This being the state of things, what hope can we offer our young?

Attention may be fleeting, but it is the portal for all that is holy. The Rebbe tells us:

“Hashem Yisborach didn’t entrust us with a task that is beyond a human beings’ capabilities. We simply need to apply ourselves and to put in the necessary effort so that we won’t be people who serve Hashem only when a mitzvah happens to come their way; rather, we will become constant servants of Hashem, without slacking off or becoming casual about our mission.”

The challenge is to capture a youngster’s attention with the warmth of a Torah life. Mentoring young students with understanding goes a long way in acquiring a sense of meaningful Yiddishkeit. I have witnessed first-hand how a warm-hearted mentor can sway a young bochur’s attention from the superficial to the life- enhancing values of a loving Torah life. In the sound bite era we live in, it is these short first encounters that can open up the hearts of seeking neshomas.

Having had the zechus to learn with many students over the years I am astounded how time and again it is the warm-heartedness with which the message is conveyed that turned lives around. A shared tuna salad sandwich can create a bridge that defies any attention barrier. The secular world spends millions on advertisements that tantalise the viewer into opening their wallets and losing their souls to the emptiness of vague promises. In this very same world, the illumination of a Torah connection opens hearts with the touch of eternity.

The Rebbe was a tower of warmth; even in the inferno of the last gasping moments of the Warsaw Ghetto, he spoke to the hearts of the forlorn Yieden with love and dedication. It is well known that the Rebbe had chances to escape, not only the Ghetto but afterwards the death camp which saw his last days. He insisted in not leaving his brethren and held true to them to his very last breath. Even those far from Torah were instantly entranced by his warmth and caring attention.

This is the Rebbe who writes in this sefer how vital it is to raise youngsters with a vibrant positive understanding of their Jewishness. Laziness comes from disinterest. The inability to focus is borne out of a coldness that creates a sense of disinterest in our holy heritage. Making Yiddishkeit real needs the fire that the Rebbe espoused in all his writings.

Today’s world comes wrapped in layers of clear plastic that make it near impossible to reach the truth. We are challenged by a myriad of difficulties and often just want to give up. Spiritual laziness has no place in Torah life; it may seem an easy get out but leads to the corruption of our soul.

The Rebbe explored ways to lead his young readership towards an energised Yiddishkeit, we owe our kids nothing less.


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