Letter: Do Not Send Your Son to a “Bais Yeshiva”

Welcome to the enlightened 2024.

No longer are stories told of parents who force their children to learn way more than said child is capable of to preserve the family prestige. Glorious fights over who sits on the mizrach vant, ashkenazim refusing shidduchim with sefardim, and smacking talmidim who cannot give the correct answer are no longer our nisayon.

Parents have learned to accept lovingly whatever learning level or style their son wants, and nary can we find a young lad being pushed outside his comfort zone.

Yet, many askonim bemoan that we still have ill-advised parents who seemingly refuse to acknowledge that their son belongs in a “Bais Yeshiva.”

Are there really still such archaic parents who do not know their own son or are afraid for the family shidduch prospects? Or perhaps there are legitimate concerns with the very notion of sending to a “Bais Yeshiva?”

Put this into the perspective of a business proposition. A young man looking to open a new retail establishment who is warned by his wise friends to start small. “Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know.” Good advice indeed and woe to the smart aleck who does not heed it.

But there is a minute detail that makes a world of difference. While this young entrepreneur is starting small, his vision is of a large and mighty conglomerate. He is driven to one day make it to the top. From the day his shop opens, it will be the best at earning his customers’ approval.

Everyone always needs to be shooting for the highest heights. The notion of relegating someone to be a “Bais” is anti-ethical and counterproductive. How do you strive to be second place?

There can be yeshivos that focus on different areas of success. One yeshiva may promote lomdus and a different one bekius. You can have your mantra on middos tovos, internal motivation, or of incorporating sports or secular studies into your programming.

There is no such thing however of being “Bais.” If a yeshiva can’t clearly highlight in what way they are “Alef,” then do NOT send your son.

Parents and rebbeim must collaborate to define the areas of strength of each boy and to direct him to the “Alef” yeshiva that will encourage him to be his best.

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30 COMMENTS

  1. Gee, this guy sounds so bitter .
    OfCourse every boy that learns Torah is an alef student. And every yeshiva that learns Torah is an alef yeshiva . I’m not really sure what this guy is bitter about , but whatever it is does it always have to be on tls? Can’t u keep it to urself?

    • “of course every boy who learns torah is an alef boy. And every yeshiva that learns torah is an alef yeshiva.”

      And that’s why every yeshiva accepts every boy!

    • I think his point is to explain the perspective of the “difficult” parent. They know their child is not an alef learner, so why are they fighting to get in to the best yeshivas? I think he’s right that a good parent shouldn’t sign his kid up to be mediocre.

  2. Wow!
    I am genuinely impressed that the letter writer managed to generally understand the gist of Rabbi Dr Abraham J Twersky’s books (and then totally misapplied it)

    • Also, I’ve never come across a Yeshiva that considers themselves to be a ב Yeshiva.
      The ones that aren’t focused on the highest level intellectual stimulation all have a focus that they pride themselves on.
      They aren’t stupid, they are aware that the boys they are working with would never make it in a different style yeshiva.
      They choose to focus on what they believe will prepare the boys for the next stages of life, including being prepared for the rigors of Beis Medrash, learning in Israel, being a mench (more important than you might think) among many other things.
      So stop bellyaching and go do something useful.

  3. I think the writer is making a very valid point. Nobody’s passion can be ignited by the idea of being mediocre or ok at something, and without passion, there is no thriving. It’s just antithetical to human nature to expect this to work. What this piece doesn’t suggest are solutions.

    Having a “Mantra on middos tovos…… incorporating sports [legitimately not something we encourage as a legitimate address for ones passions], or secular studies” automatically categorizes such an institution as a “bais yeshiva”.

    There are solutions out there that will require revolutionizing the whole system, and I will therefore save my breath (or more accurately, my fingers).

    • The sentiment is wrong. There is no such thing as a bais yeshiva. There’s a concept in Torah “chanoch L’na’ar Al Pi Darko”. That means if a Bachur needs what is called BAis to excel, he’s in an Aleph yeshiva. Anything but that is disingenuous and harmful to the Bachurim. It also leads to lifelong trauma of being unsuccessful.

  4. Actually, if you are in the mesivta sugya and looking for the best for your child, this letter writer is very on point. You just have to be smart enough to understand it. The boys yeshiva system in Lakewood needs a lot of fixing.

    • Ohyea spot on!!!
      Just put your son in a box and expect him to come out normal!!
      It’s a system that needs total revamping .Today It’s more about the yeshiva Image then the bucher!
      It’s a real disgrace how so many boys don’t get the real chinoch they need becuz in ‘my yeshiva’ we don’t do this!
      Certain ‘rabeim or mechanchim’ need to realize that thay do NOT belong on the chinuch scene as they are destroying a wonderful generation of heliga nishamos
      There are plenty of good mechanichim out there who are very capable and actually do care about a buchers ruchnius and shteiging, not just about the color of his socks or the lenth of his haircut!!
      Hashem yerachem!!
      May the rbsho help us all be michanech our children properly within the right framework!
      Amen vamen

  5. It took me too long to realize Bais was referring to the letter bais. I was wondering when I was going to see something about bais Yaakov or a bais medrash.

  6. His point is that lakewood mesivtas are all about labels and levels. Back in the day in brooklyn mesivtas you went and you learned with people that were less smart or smarter than you so that can push you to be the best you. In a beis yeshiva a boy feels like hes mediocre and surrounded by boys on the same level as him and he has no drive to be better. I think the real issues of mesivtas is that there is only one class. Open bigger grades like girls high schools so that boys can learn with all types and gain from boys from different levels. Its nice to feel smarter than others or look at a top boy and say thats what i want to be. If everyone is the same theres no push to succeed.

    • Not exactly accurate. In a so called Bais Yeshiva, the Bachurim still have who to looki up to. There’s still the top Bachurim in the Shiur and Yeshiva. B’H I’m seeing much success with my son in a top Brooklyn Yeshiva. Higher level then most Lakewood Mesivtas. His rebeim say he thinks he’s top third when he’s probably in more ways than 1 the top. That’s because no matter what level a yeshiva is called, it’s the job of the Mechanchim and parents to help the Bachur continue to seek growth and further his abilities. That’s the true Torah derech.

    • Back in the day in Brooklyn there was an Aleph Shiur, a Beis Shiur, and a Gimmel Shiur (aka the dummy Shiur) in at least two of the major Yeshivos that I can think of.

    • This is not a new concept so it’s very unlikely to change. This system has been going on for CENTURIES yes CENTURIES! There was an inner circle of top Rebbeim, top Talmidim & of course top Gvirim. If you weren’t part of this elite club you were a nothing. If you were a regular Yid you didn’t have access to these leaders to seek advice or chizuk.
      This was one of the driving factors that led to the growth of the Chasidic movement. The Chasidic Rebbes were strongly against Yeshivas. Of course they weren’t against learning Torah, it’s a myth Chasidim were ignorant simple Jews. The were many many Talmidei Chachamim, the difference was Chasidism included the unlearned. They were against the elitism the Yeshivas produced. It was anathema among Chasidim that a more learned or wealthier Chasid sit in a better or more honorable seat. The Rebbe’s railed against this very strongly.
      Good luck trying to change what has been around 100’s of years & as we see here is still going strong.
      Sad to say but what is the motivation for the “in” crowd to change the status quo that they benefit from?

    • No one is labeling. The parents are the ones calling the Yeshiva a Bais Yeshiva. Chanoch linaar al pi darko is the Torah way. If you don’t like the Torah way, feel free to send to public school. There all are the same.

  7. After reading the letter a few times – I believe his issue is that some yeshivas are fine saying they are for “Beis” students and they do everything on a “Beis level” The writer feels that a yeshiva should be an alef in something – not just be complacent as a “beis”. Is the letter writer right? not sure what is wrong with being a beis all around? Why do you need to be at the top? If you are not an Alef individual why cant you be a “beis” There are big stores and little stores, each one can be successful in their own way

  8. I simply don’t understand. The writer wrote “parents have to accept their child’s way of learning… nary can we find a young lad being pushed out of his comfort zone.”

    Maybe I am not understanding the intent of the writer. But the premise of this is absolutely false on Jewish thought. Aren’t we taught that Judaism and personal growth is about getting out of our comfort zone? Shouldn’t the golden Bachur years be used to train our children to be resilient, to be strong and to the contrary, get out of their comfort zone?
    I am not applying that one should send his son to a institution that is above his level. All I am saying is, that there is nothing wrong if a child needs to actually get out of his comfort zone and create a new comfort zone for himself thus raising the bar for his future self.

    • Very well said. But these idiots won’t change for anything. They know better. I believe Lakewood has had over the last 20 years more otd at risk per capita than any other Frum community.

    • Convince the leaders of all the Aleph yeshivos of that. They all disagree with Rav Uren Reich Shlita. They all also disagree with Rav Shteinman ZATZAL who called them Ballei GAva.

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