Devar Torah - Shoftim

Thursday, 28 August, 2014 - 11:00 am

The Art of Educating in Today’s World
By Rabbi Shimon Raichik

My father sent my brother Abby to the yeshiva at Bedford and Dean when he was 10 years old. In September/October 5722/1961 after completing his first year in yeshiva it became clear that he wasn’t happy. My father spoke to the Rebbe in yechidus after Tishrei. The Rebbe offered the following advice: Check into his friends and his roommates and make changes for the better.

When Rabbi Avraham Mordecai Segal spoke here in Los Angeles he told a story about his father being a teacher in Torah vDaas. In the yeshiva there was a particular student that always came late to the shiur. It didn’t seem to matter which day it was or what the reason was for, he still showed up late. One day this student walked in late. Rav Segal called the student over and gave him a note and told him to take it to the cook. The note read: Today we are learning the sugiya of “yeush shelo m’daas” in the gemara. Please feed this student so he will have the strength to learn.

I recently heard a story about a bachor who attended a large yeshiva. For whatever reason, the hanhala always seemed to be on his case, catching him with minor infractions. After some time one of his friends approached the hanhala and asked; do you know how much this bachor sacrificed to be here? His family is against him going to yeshiva and constantly discourages him and yet he perseveres. If you knew about him you would support him in any way possible.

The first pasuk of this week’s parsha reads:

You shall set up judges and law enforcement officials for yourself in all your cities that the Lord, your God, is giving you, for your tribes, and they shall judge the people [with] righteous judgment.

We learn from this pasuk that the judges make the laws and then police enforce those laws. The main mitzva is to have laws decided upon by the judges to live by while law enforcement is there to support that those laws are properly implemented.

When Moshiach comes we will no longer have law enforcement because it will no longer be necessary as we see in a pasuk in Yeshaya HaNavi (1:26) and we say three times a day in Shmonah Esrei: And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning.

In the year 5751/1991 at the last fabrengen we heard from the Rebbe for Shabbos parshas Shoftim, the Rebbe spoke about the difference between law enforcement and advisors or counselors. Since the advisor is focused on the good of the person he is helping he doesn’t try to force rather work together to help him realize the goal of the judge. In our life we learn halacha and then we arouse our emotions and uplift ourselves in the best possible way to fulfill the halacha and through it be connected to Hashem.

As parents and educators we need to stop policing Yiddishkeit. Some parents handle their homes like boot camp with a lot of kabbolas ohl, while others only want to be their child’s best friend. Either approach alone won’t work; we need a combination of the two. First we listen to the judge, we learn about what the Torah wants from us and we arouse a desire to fulfill in the best way possible. At the same time we remain open to explain and offer support, understanding and guidance as they go through all of their stages of development. It’s an honor not a burden and we aren’t the police. It’s our merit that we are able to accompany our child along their way.

This is especially true in our schools today. Every student needs to feel that they are understood by all of their educators and they are there for one purpose only, to help, to guide and to encourage. Once the student knows this, you have them, and then we progress together. There is one teacher who goes to the homes of his students to visit them before the school year begins. He gets a feel for the whole child not just his life as a student. He sees how the interacts with his parents and siblings and he becomes more aware of his as person and therefore more sensitive and capable to guide, advise and inspire him in class and in life. This is the difference between a mashpia and a mashgiach. In Lubavitcher yeshivos we use the term mashpia, to give and inspire instead of the term mashgiach used by others, which denotes oversight.

The Rebbe had a similar approach when addressing global issues. When the Rebbe spoke about not giving away territory in Eretz Yisroel he always based it on halacha. At the same time he explained the clear and present danger of not following the halacha. Along with the halacha he incorporated insight understanding and guidance of both the spiritual and the physical as one. This is true as well for all aspects of life. The Rebbeim did not only take care of our spiritual needs but also helped and guided us in our physical needs. Having the judge and the advisor together as one brings the whole solution into focus.

A Good Shabbos

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