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Tuesday
Nov152016

FUTURISTIC EDUCATIONAL METHODS

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh,

The most famous HaYom Yom in connection with Parshas VaYeira (9 Cheshvan) is the well-known story of the Rebbe Rashab, whose birthday is in Cheshvan:

“When the Rebbe Rashab (Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneersohn, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe) was a little boy of about four or five years of age, he entered the room of his grandfather, the Tzemach Tzedek (Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, the third Lubavitcher Rebbe), and with tears in his eyes he asked his grandfather why Hashem revealed Himself to Avraham but not to us. His grandfather answered him, ‘When a Jew who is a tzaddik decides at the age of 99 to circumcise himself, he deserves that Hashem should reveal Himself to him.’”

When we read this HaYom Yom, we are amazed by the sincerity and purity of the Rebbe Rashab even as a small child. One might feel that this story is not applicable to us and the way we educate our children. After all, this story is about a Rebbe and not about a regular people like us.

On the Shabbos of VaYeira 5736 (and continued in 5737), the year that the Rebbe called “Shnas Chinuch – a year of Chinuch,” the year that the Rebbe introduced the twelve P’sukim and Maamarei Razal for children to learn and then memorize by heart, the Rebbe told over this story and taught us a revolutionary lesson regarding the Chinuch of the children of our generation.

The Rambam’s words in Hilchos T’shuva 10:5 are well known. The Rambam instructs us regarding the methods we should use to educate and motivate our children:

“Anyone who occupies himself with the Torah in order to receive reward or in order to protect himself from retribution is considered as one who is not occupied in it for G-d’s sake. [In contrast,] anyone who occupies himself with it, neither because of fear nor to receive a reward, but rather because of his love for the L-rd of the entire earth Who commanded it, is one who occupies himself for G-d’s sake.

“Nevertheless, our Sages declared: ‘A person should always occupy himself with the Torah even when it is not for G-d’s sake, for out of [service which is not intended] for G-d’s sake will come service that is intended for G-d’s sake.’

“Therefore, when one teaches children, women, and most of the common people, one should teach them to serve out of fear and in order to receive a reward. As their knowledge grows and their wisdom increases, this secret should be revealed to them [slowly,] bit by bit. They should become accustomed to this concept gradually until they grasp it and know it and begin serving [G-d] out of love.”

In other words, we are to assume that a child does not naturally relate to spirituality and that we need to entice the child with physical delights and pleasures. Only later can we expect the child to mature and develop an appreciation for spiritual concepts and sensitivities.

It seems that only when Moshiach comes can we expect children to be naturally sensitive to Ruchnius and that their natural concern should only be Torah and the revelation of Hashem in the world. This is how the Rambam (at the end of Hilchos Melachim) describes the messianic era: “In that era, there will be neither famine or war, envy or competition for good will flow in abundance and all the delights will be freely available as dust. The occupation of the entire world will be solely to know G-d. Therefore, the Jews will be great sages and know the hidden matters, grasping the knowledge of their Creator according to the full extent of human potential, as the navi Yeshaya (11:9) states: ‘The world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the ocean bed.”

However, the Rebbe tells us (see full Sicha in Likkutei Sichos Volume 15 page 129) that our generation is different! Since the story of the Rebbe Rashab, and especially after it was told over by the Frierdike Rebbe and printed in HaYom Yom by our Rebbe, a “new channel” has been opened and every Jewish child has in his nature to desire Ruchnius, to the extent that he will cry if he does not see G-dliness!

The Rebbe, at the end of chapter 7 of the above-mentioned Sicha, adds the following point: If we see a Jewish child that does not seem to have sensitivity and a desire for spirituality, it is not normal and natural like this might have been in previous generations. Rather, it is because the educator failed to reveal it in the child.

In other words, while the whole world is saying that the children of our generation (especially those that are born and raised in this “post Gimmel-Tammuz internet and smartphone era”) are even less inclined to follow a spiritual path, let alone have spiritual desires, the Rebbe sees our children as naturally open to desire and yearn for spirituality. These are children that are being prepared to live in the times of Moshiach!

I think it is important to point out that this Sicha was said even before the Rebbe started the international Tzivos Hashem organization for children. With the power of Tzivos Hashem, children are registered in the army of Hashem at birth. They are surrounded by purity with a Shiur HaMaalos on the crib and bedroom and no pictures of non-kosher animals are found around the children. They have tremendous ability to strive towards Ruchnius and to be infused with deep faith in and commitment to bring the Geula.

This is clearly seen in the manner in which the Rebbe described the way that he sees children and the general character of our generation. In the famous Sicha of Simchas Torah 5752, the Rebbe tells us, “One of the essential features of the future era… is that we will fully experience the state expressed in the verse: ‘You have shown us to know that G-d is the L-rd, there is none else besides Him.’ The entire world will manifest that there is no other existence save G-d, ‘There is none besides Him.’

“The life of a Jew must also reflect a similar sense and feeling that ‘There is none besides Him.’ This means that not only should the intent and objective of all worldly matters be G-dliness, so that one’s service will be in a manner such that ‘All of your deeds are for the sake of Heaven,’ and ‘Know Him in all of your ways,’ but also the worldly matters themselves are G-dliness. Although the mundane still exists, and they remain ‘your deeds’ and ‘your ways,’ they become infused with a holy objective. One does not even begin to detect any other existence, because ‘there is nothing else but G-d’…

“This might provide us with a rationalization for the bizarre delay of the Redemption. The reason is that Jewish people have lacked integrity in the level of Divine service that is described by the statement ‘I was not created except for serving my Maker.’ Only with this understanding can one attain the Redemption that will be characterized by the type of Divine service in which ‘there is nothing else besides Him.’ However, this impediment has now also been removed and ‘everything is (therefore) ready for the feast,’ a reference to the feast of the Leviasan and the Wild Ox and the preserved wine that will occur during the true and complete Redemption, imminently and in actuality.

“According to our sages, the verse ‘Do not touch My anointed ones (Meshichoi)’ refers to the children who study Torah.

“One of the explanations of this statement (in addition to those provided by the commentators) is that the education of school children has to be in a manner that the children are completely permeated and absorbed with the ideal of Moshiach. Just by looking at a Jewish child, what should one see? Moshiach!

“His entire being is Moshiach; in other words, the realization of ‘You have been shown… there is none beside Him.’ The idea is even more pronounced with respect to the school children of our generation who are called (and endorsed by Jewish leaders as) Tzivos Hashem, the Army of G-d.

“The name Tzivos Hashem signifies that the children are totally devoted and subordinated to G-d, as (and even more than) the devotion of soldiers to their general. It follows that the Jewish children of our generation – boys and girls – possess in an even more revealed measure the status of Meshichoi, i.e. G-d’s own anointed ones. This provides for the preparation and introduction that leads to the impending revelation of the general Moshiach of all Jews, with the true and complete Redemption.

“And ‘As in the days that you left Egypt I shall you wonders,’ when all the ‘Tzivos Hashem departed from the Land of Egypt,’ so too the Tzivos Hashem of our generation will depart from the present exile to the true and complete Redemption.”

 

Rabbi Avtzon is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati and a well sought after speaker and lecturer. Recordings of his in-depth shiurim on Inyanei Geula u’Moshiach can be accessed at http://www.ylcrecording.com.

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