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September 28, 2016 / 25 Elul, 5776
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Does It Bother You when your Kid Comes Home Feeling like Junk?

Response to Rabbi Wallerstein's Agudah convention speech.

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Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein

Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein

What 5 things would you change that would take a huge burden off your shoulders? What 5 things would relieve most of the pressure you live with all day and night? Maybe it’s the pressure of making a certain type of bar mitzvah or chasuna. Maybe it’s to have less time in school for our children and less homework. Maybe it’s the ability for women to dress in more colors than black, white and some shades of gray? I would venture to say that most women do not enjoy being limited to dressing in just those colors. If they had to pick out clothing without the pressures of what everyone else was doing, they would not come out of the store bragging about the nice black and white funeral dress that they just picked out.

Let’s be real. Maybe it’s to not have to live with the pressure of all our sons needing to fit into the very small box of being great learners and going into kollel at least for a while? We would never say that everyone in the world needs to be lawyers no matter what their strengths and personalities are. But we do say it about our children. Amazing. This is one of the questions an outsider would have. Why are you trying to make everyone the same? Maybe it’s not having to live with the pressure in shiduchim of needing to make believe that not only is the girl or boy absolutely perfect, but the entire family and extended family going back at least 4 generations are all perfect. An outsider would say to themselves we all know that everyone has their areas they need to work on. Everyone knows that every family has to deal with issues and unhealthiness in their families. I’ve never seen a people that all know this but at the same time are all making believe that they are perfect to each other. The entire system is built on lies. Maybe it’s not having the burden of trying to figure out how you’re going to support your grown married children in kollel besides trying to support yourself. What would it feel like to know that your children have something in place that they will be able to support their families with?

How about asking what are we tolerating? If you looked at the system in which we live in like a business and you were the CEO, what would you change immediately? What would you absolutely not tolerate? We are making ourselves crazy trying so hard to live in this system and to make believe we love it. It is making many of us miserable. We are watching ourselves and our children be uninspired and going off. Many of us are an empty shell. Just the outside appearance is still intact. What a way to live. We are not happy with the system and it makes us live in ways that are full of pressure and deceit.

So the big question is why are we all tolerating it? Do we not have the most beautiful Hashem and Torah? Do we not have the best guide for life from our manufacturer? Are the ways of the Torah not the sweetest and most pleasant? Di’racheha darchei no’am vechol ni’sivoseha shalom. We are certainly not lacking direction. As the matter of fact we are the only ones in the world who actually have perfect direction for us and the rest of the world. So what are we running away from when we see there are major problems in the way we’re living and that we’ve gone way off course?

My theory is that everything is connected and built on each other. Certain people maybe of power and/or wealth may have set certain standards at certain points in time and ever since, we have been trying to keep up with those standards at all costs. All of our education is built on the premise that we have to get the guy or girl into the best yeshiva or seminary so that they can get the best shidduch.

That standard makes it that every school has to push every kid as hard as possible to become that person. The curriculum is set up to stuff in as much information as possible even if it will be meaningless for the actual students in their lives. Not just meaningless, but detrimental to most students because they learn to hate it. The schools are all in competition to be the best at producing perfect people who will get into perfect Yeshivas (who are also in competition) who will get the perfect shidduch. No school wants to take the leap to educate in a way that they actually believe in because that would mean that they no longer hold the standard and they are now the school for nebuchs and underachievers.

Bezalel Perlman

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