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Friday
Mar152019

Don’t Bridge the generation Gap

By Levi Liberow

To the Jewish nation, education has forever been an inseparable part of the culture and faith, beginning with Avraham, the first Jew, who was commended by G-d for educating his children to follow in his ways.

As a nation facing many challenges over the thousands of years we are in existence, our education system has been put to the test as well. Perhaps it was most targeted, because, just like us, our enemies and adversaries knew that our secret of survival is the ability to pass on our tradition to our children.

Today we live in an unprecedented time, wherein we are able to educate our children freely. Yet ironically, it is now where we helplessly feel we are failing most. We are struggling with the fast growing “generation gap”, a gap which seems to be growing exponentially mainly due to the tremendous technological advancements taking place.

We feel that we come from a safer, more sheltered environment and we see our children being born into a dangerous world. As much as we try to shelter them it seems that the odds are against us and it’s just an impossible task. A gap just too wide to bridge.

Truth be told, the idea of a generation gap is not something ex clusive to the 21st century. Our sages and forefathers recognized the greatness of the previous generations over theirs. It’s known as yeridas hadoros, “the decline of the generations”.

Ever since the time of King Shlomo, the spiritual life of the Jewish people has been in decline. First we lost the first temple, followed by the end of the era of prophecy. We then lost the second temple and things haven’t been getting better since.

But until then it was a relatively gradual descent . In the last century and a half things have spun out of control. We seem to be ex eriencing quantum leaps from one record breaking low to an even lower one. A real gap between the generations.

The task of the educator in this generation is perceived as to somehow “bridge” that gap and pass on the values of old to a generation of “new”. But is it possible? Do we speak the same language? Do we think in the same language?

We need to acknowledge the existence of the gap, but from the other direction.

The younger generation is growing up in a transition stage. According to all the signs of Chazal this generation is the “bridge” between exile and redemption. They are better than us; that’s why they are challenged with much greater tests. They can endure greater perils. There is a vast chasm between us and them in the terms of what we could handle and what they can.

There is no need to bridge the gap, our protection gear is outdated and won’t really work for this challenge.

As long as the spiritual threats were external, building walls and fences worked. Now that the “outside” is practically inside everyone’s pocket the focus has to be on fortifying oneself thereby acquiring the inner strength which could tackle the challenge head on.

We need to direct the youth towards recognizing the special time they are living in and how to be ready for it.

We were given the most outstanding task of raising and educating the children and teens who will be greeting Moshiach very soon. Our job is to mainly stay out of the way and direct them to explore lands we have never seen and, like the immigrants of the late 1800s, follow our youth to the new shores of Geulah.

To be clear, the Torah and its laws are eternal and don’t fall under the categories of “old” and “new.” Our job as parents and educators is indeed to pass on that knowledge. However, the motivational aspect of it all needs to be elevated to a fresh outlook on the meaning of G-d and His Torah:

Around the same time of the industrial revolution which heralded the rise of the modern age, propelling concepts such as the generation gap, another revolution was taking place – the revelation of the inner realm of Torah: Chassidus, and its becoming a relevant aspect of Jewish life not just for the class of sages.

The motto of Chassidus is “G-d is everything, everything is G-d.” This concept is not novel to Jewish thought; were it novel it wouldn’t be Jewish. But it was perceived as a matter of faith, not a matter of practice. This was what the Ba’al Shem Tov was sent for, to bring this idea from the realm of sublime faith to day to day life.

Even if we perhaps weren’t brought up this way, it is paramount that our children be.

Only children and teens being educated with this concept as a leading force in their spiritual life will grow up more immune to the challenges of a seemingly hostile world. Not only will they be able to withstand the temptations of the world, they will win over the world with their shining example and peel off the outer shell while discovering how in truth “G-d is all and all is G-d.”

Looking at what’s going on, people sometimes feel that the walls of Yiddishkeit are burning down. The opposite is true, it’s the walls of Gallus that are burning to reveal an ever stronger Yiddishkeit!

Let’s educate carefully and subtly, letting our ‘Moshiach children’ know that they are better and stronger than us, so that they can succeed in their crucial mission of leading us to the final redemption!

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