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Shemini"Moshe and Aharon came to the Tent of Meeting, and they went out and they blessed the people -- and the glory of Hashem appeared to the entire people" (Vayikra 9:23). Rashi explains that the blessing which hey gave the people was, "And let the beauty of Hashem our G-d be upon us; and establish the work of our hands upon us; O prosper it, the work of our hands" (Tehillim 90:17). In other words, "May it be Hashem's will that the Shechinah (the Holy Spirit) may rest upon the work of your hands."
People work very hard to achieve all kids of things. They want to be very successful. But the most important thing is that the Shechinah rest upon the work of their hands. Otherwise all of their toil is in vain.
This week, after the Pesach vacation, hundreds of thousands of students will be returning to yeshivas all around the world. Parents work extremely hard so that their children should be successful. How painful it is that we live in a generation in which there are so many failures and dropouts. It is a worldwide phenomenon which is being discussed by the greatest educators of our time. What is the problem? Where are we going wrong? And, most important, what can be done to correct it?
In the fall of 2004, over five hundred educators gathered in the beis hamedrash of Yeshiva Torah Voda'as in Flatbush to discuss topical chinuch issues. Rabbi Yosef Rosenblum, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Shaarei Yosher in Brooklyn, spoke about this enigma. His entire address can be found on the Dei'ah veDibur site of Shema Yisroel Torah Network, April 20, 2005 edition, at http://chareidi.shemayisrael.com/archives5765/ACH65orrosnblum.htm. I found one segment of what he said particularly disturbing and I decided to share it with you today. I hope it will help some of us rethink the way we are parenting our children.
Thousands of Jewish children enter our educational institutions each year. So many of them stray from the right path, many because of desires and many others because of hopelessness - they find no enjoyment or fulfillment in their lives and they fall into depression.
Basically, both these reasons are one and the same. In both cases, a sense of fulfillment in life is lacking. In one case it is found in rushing after desires while in the other, the student simply gives up. They are not victims of "the elixir of life" but of "the potion of death." Were they to have been shown Torah's life-giving properties and seen what it truly is, were they to have learned the correct way, this wouldn't have happened. In other words, children must be shown the sweetness of Torah.
Often, when a father tests his son on Shabbos, the child doesn't have such a good grasp of the material. It could be because he's not relaxed enough just then and doesn't want to be sitting with his father, or it could be because he doesn't understand all that well, or for some other reason. On the whole it happens because the child is not such a bright student. The father becomes frustrated and tells his son, "You'll end up in a yeshiva for weak students."
Later, when the child grows up, his father requests the teacher's help in finding a suitable yeshiva for his son and believe it or not, he is told that the only suitable place is the very yeshiva that he feared.
But then when the son hears what has been decided for him, he refuses to go. Why? Because his father has been drilling him for years with the message that only students with handicaps go there. "I am no fool," he tells himself. "I'm not crazy!" He adamantly refuses to go there. I am personally acquainted with one such story that actually happened. In the end, the son left the Torah path, R.l.
Who bears the guilt in that case? The father! Because of his pride he wanted his son to be the greatest scholar and the greatest talmid chochom of all. What he should have done was daven, say Tehillim, give tzedokoh and hire the best available tutors for his son. Even then his son might not have ended up such a great scholar but at least he wouldn't have dropped out. He would have remained a Torah Yid.
The father should have kissed this son and praised him for saying over a Mishnah at the Shabbos table, just like he did to his other son who repeated a chiddush (a new idea) of Rabbi Akiva Eiger. The weaker son was more deserving of praise and encouragement than the gifted one. It was harder for him to review a simple Mishnah than it was for his brother to repeat an intricate idea of Rabbi Akiva Eiger's. When the gifted son told his teacher a chiddush he got attention while the weaker one got no positive attention. In fact, the way people related to him was one of the factors in his throwing in the towel.
A child will only succeed if he is fortunate to have a teacher who understands the merit of having been entrusted with the task of educating our precious children.
Who deserves more positive encouragement? Who has worked harder? The gifted student who has managed to repeat a chiddush of Rabbi Akiva Eiger or the weaker one who has put great effort into learning a mishnah? In the first case, restrained praise is called for while in the second, the child should be showered with enthusiastic praise and his efforts should be applauded.
When a person arrives in the World of Truth after one hundred and twenty years, will he receive a greater reward for having known more or for having been cleverer? Chas veShalom! Whoever thinks that that is Hashem's way, denies Him.
If a person learns Torah the way he is supposed to learn it, and derives good character traits from it, he will attain its ultimate goal - Torah greatness, blessing and success. May we indeed all merit raising our children to learn Torah with pure motivation.
Shema Yisrael Torah Network