web analytics
April 21, 2015 / 2 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Kerovim Or Rechokim: Where Should Our Kiruv Priorities Lie?

Young adults I have mentored have described homes that are battlegrounds. I’ve heard about parents who are unabashedly contentious and critical of each other, fathers who behave like boot camp generals, mothers who are unrelenting perfectionists and who don’t give their children love. And the list goes on.

* * * * *

Young adults very rarely rebel against Hashem. They know too little about Hashem to wage a rebellion against Him. Young adults are predominantly rebelling against their dysfunctional parents. It’s up to parents to ensure that their children have healthy and wholesome role models.

Youth are also turned off by perceived injustice and hypocrisy. One area of particular concern is when questions about Yiddishkeit are deflected or repudiated. I’ve met people who have were scorned and ridiculed by teachers for asking fundamental questions.

Many of the young women we work with gave up tznius. What happened? Several of them were disparaged by their principals after inquiring why it was necessary to conform to a certain standard of tznius. Other young ladies were turned off after they later discovered that what purportedly was absolute halacha was merely a chumrah created or adopted by the school. Children are absolutely repelled by what they view as disingenuous behavior.

Hostile or dishonest reactions to questions are anathema to Yiddishkeit. Torah learning is predicated on shakla v’tarya, questions and answers.

A young boy learning about the miracles of the midbar asked his rebbi, “How is it physically possible that the people wore the same clothing for forty years and that it didn’t wither?” The rebbi, annoyed at such an irreverent question, snidely responded, “So Yankel, I see you are mechusar emunah!”

The rebbi may be surprised to learn that the Rosh asks this very question on his pirush to the Chumash. Whether this confounded the Rosh or one of his students is immaterial. Rabbeinu Asher gave enough credence to the question to record it for posterity and offer an answer. His solution is quite intriguing. He could have simply insisted that there is nothing beyond Hashem’s purview. Instead, he offers a more pragmatic explanation and states that we find a parallel to this extraordinary occurrence in nature: When a snail grows, the shell has to be enlarged to fit the snail’s body. According to the Rosh, the clothing worn by Dor HaMidbar took on the property of the snail, which gradually extends its shell by adding new parts at the shell opening.

We similarly find that the Ramban questions (and answers) how the teivah was able to physically accommodate an innumerable amount of species of all forms and sizes. The Netziv questions (and answers) the reality of finding fossils from prediluvian times (some posit he’s referring to dinosaurs), when all remnants were supposed to be eradicated in the mabul. The point is that not only is every question deserving of an answer but there’s virtually no question that hasn’t been grappled with by Chazal. We should anticipate children’s questions and scour our repository of seforim and consult with gedolim for answers.

Our greatest gaonim – including the Steipler Gaon of the past generation (who though renowned for his tremendous geonus and hasmodah, was not particularly known as a ba’al machshavah) – wrote sifrei hashkafa, never shying away from issues that needed to be addressed, explicating Yiddishkeit in the vernacular of their respective generations. We must create an environment and a Hashkafah curriculum where respectful questions are not only tolerated but where they are encouraged.

My Rebbi, Rav Pam, zt”l, often discussed the Gemara that condemns someone who merely learns Torah but doesn’t teach others (Sanhedrin 98b). The Gemara condemns this person as one who is defaming Hashem’s Word. Rav Pam explained that Torah learning is incomparably contagious and joyous – so much so that it is virtually impossible to contain one’s love for it.

A person who learns Torah and is not bursting at his seams is not appreciating the Torah for its true value – in effect he is diminishing the value of Torah. Rather than appear as a burden, Torah is supposed to be the key to happiness and ultimate fulfillment.

* * * * *

Our children are trained to get caught up with the subtleties and nuances of mitzvah observance before they have a genuine appreciation for being a Yid. Children can grow resentful of punctilious observance if they don’t understand the grand scheme.

One student complained, “Nothing is josher – everything is off limits. I can only eat such and such. I am restricted in my dress. I have to guard my language and always behave dignified.” I explained to him that the word “kosher” has the identical letters and can be construed as k’sar – like a prince. A Jew, like a prince, has a certain diet, dress code, and etiquette because of his ennobled status. Observance is not a burden, but rather the greatest honor and privilege.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Kerovim Or Rechokim: Where Should Our Kiruv Priorities Lie?”

  1. Suzy Baim says:

    good article BH.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Rav Aharon Lichtenstein
My Encounter with Rav Lichtenstein
Latest Indepth Stories
Rav Aharon Lichtenstein

What was supposed to have been a 15 minute interview, turned into an intense learning session and intellectual battle, the likes of which I had never experienced in my entire life.

Rabbi Lichtenstein (z"l).

Rav Lichtenstein did not learn Tanaim, Amoraim, Rishonim and Achronim, rather he learned with them

Israel Supreme Court at Night

How can NIF claim they don’t support BDS when they try to repeal laws forbidding boycotts of Israel?

Rabbi Lichtenstein (z"l).

“Rav Lichtenstein’s vision and inspiration served to guide the development of Tzohar.”

As Holocaust survivors decline rapidly attacks on the veracity of the Holocaust rapidly escalates

The Constitution created history’s most powerful legislature & inherent foreign policy power battle

The S-300 poses a major problem; Israel will have to get creative as to if, when & where it strikes

“The resentment towards us (Jews/Israelis) was really intense. They clearly hate Zionism & Zionists”

Egypt has been more effective against Gazan smuggling tunnels than Israel’s military operations

She had many names and was many things to many people, but to me she was just Babineni.

Is ISIS in Gaza? “No, but there are ISIS loyalists here..we pray to God they unite under ISIS’ flag”

Rabbi Portal was that great “inspirer,” changing people for the better, enriching the lives of all

Iran knows Obama, Putin, and the Europeans don’t have a Red Line beyond which they will go to war

There is no way to explain the Holocaust. I know survivors who are not on speaking terms with G-d. I know many who are the opposite. I have no right to go there…

When a whole side of your family perishes, friends become the extended family you do not have.

“We stand with Israel because of its values and its greatness and because its such a wonderful ally”

More Articles from Rabbi Yitzchak Fingerer

As rav of the Brooklyn Jewish Experience, a local kiruv organization devoted to reaching out to Brooklyn’s almost 70 percent non-observant Jewish population, I also teach and counsel young adults (18-33 years old) from the frum community. These students are often indistinguishable from their frum peers. Outwardly they may appear frum, but inwardly they’re disenchanted, jaded, and alienated. Their exterior appearance is largely a façade and their feeling of disenfranchisement from frumkeit is frighteningly real. There are others that are part of our program who, tragically, already took the next step and are no longer observant.

According to the Talmud (Sanhedrin 97), Mashiach will arrive before the Jewish year 6000. This means the full range of spectacular prophecies and supernatural events associated with the End of Days must occur within the next 228 years.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/kerovim-or-rechokim-where-should-our-kiruv-priorities-lie/2012/04/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: