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June 28, 2016 / 22 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

Teaching Responsibility To Our Children

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Parshat Toldot narrates the story of the rivalry between Jacob and Esau. The Torah states that Isaac loved Esau and Rebecca, Isaac’s wife, loved Jacob. As the story develops, we are told that when Isaac became old, he wanted to bestow his blessings onto his favorite son, Esau. He instructed Esau to go to the field and prepare venison. When Esau would return with the prepared venison in his hands, Isaac would bless him. Rebecca overheard the directives of Isaac to Esau, and instructed her son Jacob to dress up and pretend to be his brother Esau in order to steal the blessings. In the dramatic encounter between Jacob and Isaac, Isaac bestowed the blessings intended for Esau, on Jacob, ostensibly believing that it was Esau, and not Jacob, who was the recipient of his blessings.

Our sages wrestle with this entire scenario. Did Isaac really know whom he was giving the blessings to? Did his son Jacob deceive him? Was Jacob correct in disguising himself as Esau and stealing the blessings? Did the fact that Rebecca took responsibility for Jacob’s actions, exonerate Jacob of his misdeed?

One point however is clear, Jacob, because he beguiled his father, was punished numerous times during his lifetime. He was fooled by his father in law, Lavan, into marrying Leah and not her sister, Rachel, whom he loved. Jacob’s children deceived him by stating that Joseph had been killed. Lavan deceived him by denying and withholding his true wages. It seems that no matter what interpretation we accept, the simple interpretation is that Almighty G-d did not accept the actions of Jacob in stealing the blessings, and repaid him measure for measure.

There is a lesson that can be derived from this. Ultimately each and every one of us is responsible for our own actions. Children who offer excuses such as “my parents gave me permission”, or parents who insist “my child would never do that” do not absolve them from responsibility. We are all answerable for our own actions. Parents must understand that there are times that we defend our kids but there are also times that we punish them and hold them accountable for their actions.

I recall reading an article focusing on this very point. In brief it told a story of two students who committed the “most reprehensible, embarrassing and unconscionable acts”. The students were eventually expelled from the school that they were attending, but the reactions of the parents were quite divergent.

One set of parents accepted the punishment meted out onto their child. They realized that, ultimately, their child did something reprehensible and deserved the punishment that he got. The other set of parents refused to accept the fact that their son did something wrong and began litigation against the school for the action that it took.

When I was growing up, if I would return home one day from school and tell my parents that I got into trouble, they rarely blamed the school, at least not in my presence. I was always held responsible! If we send our kids to a school that we believe looks out for their well-being, then when things get tough and our kids do something wrong it is usually not the school that is at fault, but the child. Parents must accept the fact that if we hope to develop responsible adults, we must first teach responsibility to our children and hold them accountable when they do something wrong. A child who misbehaves deserves to be disciplined!

When we hear horrendous stories of Jewish schools that become the venue of drug busts, or when we read of students, who are studying in a Yeshiva abroad, caught dealing with drugs, or drinking in the local bars, we must stop blaming the schools for our inadequacies! The ones to blame are the children themselves as well as their parents! Excuses and rationalizations are a detriment to developing responsible adults. We must give children the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and accept consequences for their actions.

Rabbi Mordechai Weiss

Apple Co-Founder Lands in Israel between the Rockets

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is in Israel to take part in Monday’s EduAction Forum scheduled in Holon, next to Tel Aviv, to start off the new school year on the right foot, rockets permitting.

Wozniak will talk at the conference on his favorite subject – teaching – under the title of “The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree.”

The co-founder of Apple left the company some 30 years ago and now is the chief scientist for Fusion-io, which specializes in cloud computing.

With a net worth of $100 million, Wozniak also teaches computers to junior high school students.

He did not the let the war stop him from visiting Israel, but the same cannot be said for author Amy Chua, who chickened out of the conference.

Although Wozniak no longer is with Apple, his former company has invested heavily in Israel and recently appointed an Israel Arab, Johnny Srouji, as its first Israeli vice president.

Jewish Press Staff

Whose Values Do They Represent?

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

I don’t see how anyone can claim that they are extremists who are an exception to the rule – amounting to only a small handful of Haredim. I am talking about people who are constantly degrading the values of those they disagree with by acting in truly disgusting ways.

It has happened again. From Israel Hayom:

Shear Yashuv residents inflamed to find haredi tourists bathing in a memorial fountain near the town, which was dedicated to 73 IDF soldiers who lost their lives in a terrible 1997 helicopter accident • Haredi tourists: “Memorials constitute idolatry.”

This kind of thing happens so frequently and in so many different places, it cannot possibly be attributed to a bunch of extremists that are not representative of Haredi values. And yet every time something like this gets reported in the media, there is always a Haredi apologist out there somewhere telling us we shouldn’t judge all Haredim by the actions of a few.

I of course agree with that in principle. And as I have said many times, most Haredim don’t do these kinds of things. Certainly not moderate Haredim but even right wing Haredim. They realize it is a Chilul HaShem. However – as I’ve said many times – the behavior though not approved of actually occurs precisely because of the Haredi values exemplified by the above response of those Chareid tourists.

Is there anyone who thinks that the sentiment expressed by them isn’t believed by them? It expresses a value of the majority of Haredi community.

I don’t know that the majority of the Haredi world actually considers such memorials to be idolatry. But I think it’s safe to say that they do completely characterize such memorials at the very least as un-Jewish. And something we ought not recognize in any way. The only difference between those Haredi bathers and the media apologists is that the apologists realize that disrespecting the memorial will be seen by the entire rest of the world as disrespecting the dead being memorialized.

So Rebbeim in Yeshivos advise their students never do anything that will be seen to dishonor lost loved ones in public. That would be considered a Chilul HaShem.

But those tourists probably think it is a Chilul HaShem – NOT to stand up for the truth. They therefore acted the way they did  with pride – having no problem desecrating that memorial by bathing in it.

The idea of showing one face to the public and another one internally was illustrated recently when a  Rosh Yeshiva or Rebbe described what he tells his students about how to act when sirens sound on Yom HaZikaron. He said when the sirens sound while they are in the confines of the Yeshiva, they are to be ignored. When they are out in public, they should stand silently along with the rest of the country. Why? Because it is not a Jewish way to memorialize the dead. Doing so in private therefore has no meaning to them. In public, however, they are to ‘play along’.

One may ask, what’s so terrible about that? What’s wrong with teaching students about the proper Jewish way to mourn the dead? There is of course nothing wrong and everything right about that.

What is wrong here is that it is more than about teaching proper Jewish thought.They aren’t just teaching their students how to properly mourn the dead. They are teaching them that Israel is run by a bunch of Apikurism (heretics) who ‘ape the Goyim’. Students are taught to disrespect everything about the government of Israel and Israeli society. Israel is constantly being vilified to Haredi students by their Haredi teachers.

The smarter ones also realize that there should be no public displays of disrespect to the Israeli populace. For example in how they mourn their dead. That would be a Chilul HaShem. Nonetheless the lesson constantly taught and heard over and over again by students is that Israel is evil and if not for the Chilul HaShem it is indeed correct to dishonor the ‘Goyishe way’ in which Israel does everything. Including the way in which the dead are memorialized.

There are of course some Mechanchim who do not make those caveats to their students. Especially in places like Meah Shearim. Is it any wonder then that there are Haredim who feel free to desecrate a memorial in the way these Haredim did? They are merely expressing their true Hashkafos – oblivious to the Chilul HaShem – thinking that it is a Kiddush HaShem!

That is why when these bathing tourists were asked about it, they responded the way they did. It is the same kind of thinking had by Haredim who held a barbecue in a public park this past Yom HaZikaron while the rest of Israel was somberly mourning soldiers killed in action. ‘It’s not the Jewish way to mourn this way – and by golly we’re going to teach these ‘evil’- or at best ignorant Jews by example what we really think of it!’

It’s the same kind of thinking that goes on when a woman get’s spat upon because the spitter does not approve of the way she dresses. This too happened recently in the city of Ashdod recently. From Ynet:

A, a 15-year-old girl and her mother complained that a haredi man asked the girl not to walk by a yeshiva located in the city center, and even spat on her because of the way she was dressed.

The girl was walking along the street Monday, as she does everyday, to pick up her 6-year-old little sister from kindergarten. At a distance of a kilometer and a half away from her home, the girl – who wore a tank top and a skirt – was approached by a haredi man who yelled at her: “Walk behind the parking lot’s wall”

At first, A., did not understand what he was talking about, and asked the man “Why?” to which he replied “Because you’re immodest, there are people studying Torah here.”

A., who did not want to confront the man picked up her pace and defiantly told him “I’m not going to,” to which he answered “Why are you so stubborn?” and then spat on her.

This is becoming so common it almost as though it were the norm in Haredi circles. I can understand why a Haredi man concerned with the Kedusha of his Yeshiva would be upset at a woman wearing a tank top passing by. And even though I would disagree with him doing it since she has the right to dress as any she chooses in public – I would understand if he politely asked if she would in the future dress more modestly around the Yeshiva.

But when he demands it and then spits on her when she doesn’t comply, that is a Chilul HaShem even though in his own mind he thinks it is a Kiddush HaShem . As would all the spitters, screamers, and haters all over the world who would act the same way under similar circumstances.

As if that weren’t enough let us not forget about the bus ‘bombers’. No… not the Islamist  suicide bombers. The Haredi ones in Bet Shemesh who yesterday smashed the windsheild of a bus and broke other windows with a hammer after after a woman refused to sit apart from men. They later attacked two other buses by ‘bombing’ them with stones and breaking their windows.

So the next time you hear a Haredi spokesman say that these people do not represent them, I would take that with a huge grain of salt.

Update
The woman who was asked to move to the back of the bus was interviewed by a religious radio station in Israel. She described the situation as follows. As a new immigrant unfamiliar with sex segregated buses in her new community she sat down at the front of the bus with her young children and all the packages she was carrying.

She was then immediately but politely asked to move to the back by one of the Haredi women who came up to her. At first she refused because of all the packages and her children. She was offered help with all that and she then agreed to move. The bus driver became irate when he saw this and decided to call the police. That is apparently when all hell broke loose.

In my view, this changes little except the precipitating event caused by the bus driver. The bus driver may have been foolish and impetuous in making that call when the situations seemed to be taking care of itself.

But the rioting Haredim that responded by damaging that bus and other buses nearby is what ought to be focused on here. This is not a civilized response to a grievance against what a bus driver did. And although the bus driver should have perhaps not exacerbated the situation, clearly he too acted out of his indignation at what he thought was wrong.

If one will say that I too am being apologetic, I would only ask that you compare how the bus driver reacted to what he saw as an injustice – to how these Haredim reacted to what they saw as an injustice. Had those Haredim reacted in a similarly civilized manner, there would be no story. And no Chilul HaShem.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah .

Harry Maryles

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