CHINUCH ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION
May 23, 2017
Mendel Tzfasman in #1069, Chinuch

Mechanchim discuss “our children will be our guarantors” from the perspective of Yemos HaMoshiach and the imminent Geula. * Presented for Z’man Mattan Toraseinu, when we received the Torah because we offered our children as guarantors. * Part 1 of 2.

Rabbi Pizem | Rabbi Cheruti | Rabbi FriedmanWe spoke with mechanchim, those who mold our pure Jewish children. They teach Torah and mitzvos, doing mitzvos out of love, being particular about Chabad customs, and hiskashrus to the Rebbe. We wanted to hear what children being our guarantors really means, why the children are described by our Sages asmy anointed ones,” how to get children todisplayMoshiach as the Rebbe instructed, and how now, after Gimmel Tammuz, we can instill abstract concepts such as our generation is the generation of Geula, the Rebbe is chai vkayam, and get them to have a genuine hiskashrus to the Rebbe.

As educators who work all year with the guarantors of the Jewish people, can you explain what makes Jewish children capable of being guarantors for our observance of Torah?

R’ Pizem:

The answer can be seen in the first of the Twelve P’sukim, “Torah tziva lanu Moshe – morasha k’hillas Yaakov. Meaning, the Torah was given so that it would constantly be given over as an inheritance to the next generation. The real guarantee for receiving the Torah is when the children accept the Torah.

In the times of the Rebbe Rayatz some asked how can you endanger people’s lives for children under the age of bar mitzva who are not obligated in mitzvos. There were mikvaos, shuls, sh’chita etc. that were also endangered because of the stubborn devotion to chinuch. However, the Rebbe Rayatz knew that the children are the future of the Jewish people and if the parents caved in and the children did not receive a proper Jewish education, the generation would disappear.

 

R’ Cheruti:

We might explain this according to the sicha about the law of the bar metzra (first purchase rights for the adjoining field owner) in which the Rebbe explains at length why the angels, despite being in the category of bar metzra—which is why the Torah should have been given to them—did not receive the Torah.

There is a serious consideration for the Torah to be given to the angels, since they are close to G-d. Children, as the Rebbe explains in a different sicha, have an advantage in that their souls recently came down to this world. That is, due to their purity and innocence, and their not having gotten coarsened by this world as the adults have, they are the “angels” of this world, or we can say, G-d’s bar metzra in our world.

 

R’ Friedman:

When speaking about Mattan Torah and about children, the guarantors for kabbalas ha’Torah, I am reminded of the custom of hachnasa l’cheder which always moves me, the parents and the children. For the child, as it says in holy s’farim, the hachnasa l’cheder is “maamad Har Sinai” and kabbalas ha’Torah. The child wears new clothes, as it says, “and they should wash their garments,” and the repeating after the teacher, komatz-alef-uh, which is like Anochi, which begins with a komatz-alef, that we heard from G-d. It’s so special to see it each time, how the child licks the honey on the letters with love, when most of them don’t know the letters and their significance yet.

I remember that I was once invited to Yishuv Nitzan near Kiryat Malachi. People who wear knitted yarmulkes heard from someone in Nachala who moved there about a hachnasa l’cheder and they asked me to come and do this with the children on the yishuv. Parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and grandparents came, some of whom were not yet religious. I’ll never forget how excited they were. After that, I got many requests to do this in other yishuvim. To me it was a tangible expression of the idea of “our children will be our guarantors.”

Is there a way to tell if our children are our guarantors? Is there a way to measure whether I’m investing enough into the chinuch of my children?

R’ Cheruti:

In my humble opinion, the results are the answer to your question. Does the child carry out the horaos of the Rebbe that apply to him? There are many horaos about chinuch of children. For example, that every child should have a siddur and pushka in his room that belongs to him with his name on them, that the pushka hang on the wall, that the children say the 12 P’sukim every day, etc. More especially for Shavuos, that every child go to shul to hear the Aseres HaDibros.

When I want to test myself, I check to see whether all the children with whom I spoke about the importance of going to shul on Shavuos, will come to me after Yom Tov and proudly tell me that they heard the Aseres HaDibros. And if they are Lubavitcher children, that they brought other children along with them.

When children take the Rebbe’s horaos seriously, then we can say, “our children will be our guarantors,” and surely, when he gets older, he will continue to carry out age-appropriate horaos such as Chitas and Rambam, having a mashpia, mivtzaim, etc. and later, go on shlichus.

R’ Friedman:

In general, the question is on us, how serious are we about what we convey to children. Without our realizing, and without the children realizing, we are constantly being tested: Do the messages we broadcast jive with our behavior? Or, if we want to put it positively, when the atmosphere in the home is one of niggunim, of simcha, farbrengens, mivtzaim, a warm and loving relationship with one another, guests in the home, helping people, etc. - then the “makif,” i.e., the environment, has an influence.

We have no idea how deep the daily influence is, on us and our family. It’s the daily chitchat that creates the atmosphere and this is what children absorb. There is no lack of what to talk about (not necessarily at the Shabbos table), starting with the news and politics in a way of poking fun at this or that, to discussing problems big and small in a negative and derogatory tone. But we need to be aware that the atmosphere in the home will be influenced by the subjects of interest that become part of the daily discourse. Of course, in addition to the influence of the home, there is also the chinuch in school and in the environment, but when each one does his part, Hashem helps so that together they should produce only good results.

No couple gets a parenting degree before having children. Even when learning about family life, until children are born, it is all theoretical (just like it’s difficult to discuss things like shalom bayis with a chassan and kalla). Nowadays there are plenty of books and lectures and openness about the subject and it is highly recommended that people avail themselves of them.

By the way, based on what the Rebbe said that the entire generation is worthy, for even t’shuva has been done by everyone (because there is no one who has not had a thought of t’shuva), and what is lacking is lacking on a personal level and does not affect the collective t’shuva of the generation, so too, with the children being our guarantors, even if things are lacking here and there, it is a lack on a personal level which does not take away from the guarantee of the children for the fulfillment of Torah and mitzvos.

 

R’ Pizem:

It’s a complicated question which doesn’t have a clear answer since, with chinuch, there are no clear rules that apply to all. You cannot state categorically what suits whom and from what age to focus on this or that. To take an extreme example, a father of a three year old who will force his son to sit next to him for the entire davening, versus the parent who is afraid to pressure his son, lest he make him hate davening, neither view is correct. Chinuch must be individualized and a parent must know his son better than anyone else, knowing his good qualities and what he lacks, his abilities and his limitations, and based on that, to be mechanech him.

There are times that parents have to raise their children with a Chabad chinuch that they themselves did not receive. They need more guidance before making important decisions regarding their child so as not to be extreme in any way.

In any case, another important point, especially in our generation (aside from demanding of ourselves and being a role model) is to talk to a child on his level. This doesn’t mean that the mechanech or parent needs to become the child’s friend, but when the child gets explanations based on analogies from his own world about why he needs to behave a certain way or stop other behavior, in a loving way, and is not just told, “Don’t do that, it’s not allowed!” then the chinuch will stick.

This is not to negate firmness and a severe look when needed, but along with the severity, the child needs explanations from his own world.

 

The traditional wish for Shavuos is “kabbalas ha’Torah b’simcha u’b’pnimiyus.” How can we get a child who does mitzvos but is lacking simcha to do mitzvos not out of fear of punishment or love of nosh, but with chayus, simcha and taanug?

R’ Pizem: First, we should be happy, as the Rebbe says, since we have the best reason in the world to be happy, namely, that the Geula is about to happen. We need to state that simply, and when we live it, there is the rule that “words of truth are recognizable,” and the nature of joy and a happy person is to draw in the people around them. When everything, even the most minor, is connected to the Rebbe and the belief and anticipation for his hisgalus, no wonder Torah and mitzvos look altogether different.

Second, we have Chassidus that explains why to serve Hashem with joy, the sichos and maamarim and letters of the Rebbe, and the D’var Malchus, that bring chayus and simcha and taanug to every mitzva and holiday. All this pertains to children too, and when a parent and teacher will adapt the ideas to the student’s level of intellect and understanding, invariably his performance of Torah and mitzvos will change radically.

Third, boruch Hashem, in Chabad, there is a tremendous broadness in which every talmid can find a place to shine, even if learning is not his favorite activity. The derech of Torah and mitzvos are interesting and varied, there are mivtzaim and programs, farbrengens and niggunim, Chassidishe stories, etc. In our school, even students who are not top of the class academically, organize shiurim in inyanei Moshiach and Geula during recess or do other private initiatives in yeshiva, like organizing campaigns for the study of Chitas and Rambam. And experience has shown that a student who was particular about a certain inyan of the Rebbe, even though he wasn’t learning much or did not have other Chassidishe behaviors, will eventually reveal his p’nimius.

And above all else are Chassidishe farbrengens (which pertain especially to the family unit), when you sit together and sing niggunim and tell Chassidishe stories, and have some refreshments and lots of warmth, then all barriers come down.

R’ Friedman:

This is the job of parents and teachers. When teaching something, look for ways to convey it in the most interesting way, with visuals, with pictures, etc. There is so much available nowadays in books, and even 3D exhibits, about the Beis HaMikdash, the keilim and the avoda that was done. You need to search to find that which will make learning joyful.

Aside from that, you simply need to be happy. Joy over our being Jews who keep Torah and mitzvos, joy that we are connected to the Rebbe. If our lives are truly illuminated by Chassidus (as in the Rebbe’s blessing, “an everlasting edifice on the foundations of Torah and mitzvos as they are illuminated with the light-source of Torah which is the teachings of Chassidus”), if we get that Chassidus is not only nice explanations and amazing depth, but contains the goal of all of creation – the true and complete Geula, this outlook gives a person another perspective on life, with the goal, which we are about to achieve, right in front of us, and no wonder that we would be happy, and no wonder that people close to us will “catch” the happiness from us.

R’ Cheruti:

It should be stressed that along with using the latest technology to illustrate what we want to teach, we should not forget that we are talking about holy neshamos, and anything that is taught needs to be conveyed with words from the heart; it can’t just be a “story.”

To be continued im yirtze Hashem

 

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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