Submissions from around the world to Rabbi Dovid Abenson

rabbi dovid abensonI would like to share the following letters with my readers:

A tutor called today. She wants to tutor my daughter this year half an hour a week [she works in the schools]. We asked her what happened last year that she stopped tutoring my daughter.

The tutor answered that the teacher didn’t cooperate – many times she only let my daughter go out for 10 min instead of half an hour !!??? Wow, what kind of teacher won’t let a student get the help they need.

I was surprised that there are other people that have problems with their children.

All the years I was told by my children’s – rabbeim and principals alike – it’s your son – everyone else is doing perfect, it’s only your son – not the rebbe or the yeshiva.

But that is a big lie.

Many times it IS the rebbe – it’s not that he tries to be bad – but he doesn’t encourage in the right way or offer incentive to the weak boys to excel. This past week was my son’s first week in Mesivta. How exciting!! How hard three sedorim a day are for bochurim. The end of the week there was a test of ten questions on teitch and ten regular questions. My son answered every single question. One of the answers my son gave, the rebbe felt was not the correct answer. So what would you mark the test at 98/95/93?
No he gave him a 88!

This is discouraging our children from learning I know a rebbe that gives a highest mark of 110 – so most boys even with a few wrong get around 90 and they are matzliach.

Why do rebbeim feel they have to be so erlich all of a sudden and mark the lowest mark possible? For what? For one wrong that he really answered? Is that an encouragement for the first week? Let’s not forget success breeds success. Let’s give the kids a break and they will excel.

Let’s keep up encouragement only, not discouragement!

A Rosh Hakollel


Hi, I read your article on The Lakewood Scoop and I would like to first off all tell you that there was not a single word I disagreed with. Every line was obviously thought out and clear.

I grew up in Lakewood and went to a pretty normal school and ended up in Adelphia NJ for yeshiva when it was considered “bad”. I was a terrible student. Not because I wanted to be but because everything to me was completely meaningless. I didn’t understand a word of anything I read. Yiddish terminology threw me off further. Lack of basic Jewish knowledge such as Navi or even Chumash was what really got me completely confused. I knew that if a goy were to ask me on the street what the 10 commandments were I wouldn’t know what to answer and I was definitely not getting the answer in school.

Either way my ninth grade year was my best year in school. I had a rabbi named Rabbi Newhouse. He was the former ninth grade Rebbi in Belmar and switched to adelphia. What made him so good is what my point in writing to you was. He would shower us with constant encouragement about things unrelated to learning. He was so exciting, he was so spontaneous. He would get us excited, randomly come in and take us to a park or bowling or anywhere. It was great. I spent my extra time during the day going over the gemara we learned that day and I was doing really well.

My point in all this is that when I went off the derech I threw everything out the window. One of the reasons I did this was because I knew that when I go off the derech I will get unconditional attention from so many people who want to help off the derech kids. Trips to Israel, trips to Dave and buster’s, six flags, going out to eat for learning 15 minutes, nobody telling you how to act dress talk, just unconditional acceptance.

If you ask me that sounds like a way better deal than sitting in yeshiva with some crusty Rabbi forcing me to do things. I think that if people threw more money at kids who are doing GOOD in yeshiva and REWARD them for their efforts, there would be a much smaller turnover rate.

Why is a kid that is not keeping Shabbos or kashrus getting so many handouts while a kid struggling to survive is getting yelled at for being late?

To me that’s old tradition seeping into a day and age that such things are ludicrous and unfair. I’m speaking from experience.

From a young Bala Boss

Btw I don’t care about their markings anymore and have told my grandson forget the marking. My daughter asked why did he get a low marking when he did have everything correct,
RESPONSE I give on overall marking including other things.

We taught my grandson just to disregard this Rabbi & Thanks god he is history.

FYI. This rabbi got from myself a 200.00 gift card for Chanukah . I am still waiting for the Thank you.

Sorry I have very small respect for these rebbeim , I keep asking the question . What are the qualifications for hiring?

From a caring Grandfather

Thanks for sending your articles and I really enjoy reading them.

I just want to point out one thing that I feel is missing from your ideas.

Apart from people being betrayed by all the people they trust and labelled etc, there is another reason that people go off the derech.

The chareidi religious functionality has become a performance culture. You are measured by performance.

This is not new in the functionality of religious societies – it is a symptom of the general ossification of the functionality if European society and the most famous religion to function in this way is Christianity.

Chareidi society provides one type of functionality that is ‘ok’ – namely left-brain functionality which is purely cognitive function.

However this has three big problems.

1: Only a small percentage of people can function naturally like this and hence it is not naturally not long-term sustainable.
The smallest effect this has on people’s minds is a lot of tension as they are trying to force themselves to function in a way that does not fit with the flow of their personality. Bigger effects than that – well, just look around….

2: The second big effect of that is that people deny , negate and discount their own and other people’s true selves and instead subscribing to a personality culture in that one type of personality becomes desirable and others not. You don’t need me to point out that on the smallest scale this is traumatic and can have lasting psychological effects for fifty years or more after…

3: The third big effect is that it takes a real and true religion and distorts it so we have lost touch with the way we should interact with religion.
Judaism is supposed to be the way we connect, interact and develop a relationship with G-d, not a cognitive and obedience performance culture in which it is not about performance and not being wrong than about the actual point of Judaism – to develop a relationship with G-d.

I have seen many little and not so little kids realize this very quickly and become disillusioned with religious society and with their so called rebbeim who are in such a state of confusion that they try to convince them otherwise.

I hope this has been helpful.

Anything to return the lost light to am Yisroel.

Thank you.

A former Talmid


I read this article,

Not only is his point sound, but it is extremely true and important! Widespread awareness of this is of paramount importance and should be broadcast all over.

Personally, I feel that I suffered from this and by leaving the Yeshiva I am allowing myself to develop religiously according to my own strengths, and do not feel imposed upon with things that I cannot manage. This helps me not only to feel good in life, but to enjoy religious life and seek to strive in it…..

Thanks for sharing!

A former Talmid.


“Let us unite and eliminate the “so-called policies” currently engraved in our institutions today. Wishing you and your families a Kesiva VeChasima Tovah.”

Rabbi Dovid Abenson an international speaker is the founder, director and author at Shaar HaTalmud, a unique yeshiva based online program, featuring evaluations and remediation, working with students to upgrade skills in Hebrew reading, chumash/rashi and gemara studies, consulting school principals worldwide to improve their ability to help students who possess underdeveloped skills. Also available for in house training for schools and yeshivos. He can be reached at [email protected] or 1-877-HATALMUD (428-2568)

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  1. Thank you Rav Abenson for sharing this most powerful truth of reality. Am Yisroel is growing by leaps and bounds due to such analysis and wisdom. Each family has a story to tell and share. Only the most corageous will publicly do it. Kesiva Vechasima Tovah.

  2. Thank you, Rabbi for this important point. I would like to add my own humble view:
    As a regular, average, not-too-smart or not-too-dumb-student in school, i was never rewarded nor encouraged, or even punished. I was a regular good kid who was usally ignored. I am not blaming the teachers, they are simply overwhelemed with 30 kids on all scholastic and behavioral levels that it is almost impossible to give every child the attention. But somethings got to change! How can we teach AND reach every child under these not-ideal circumstances?

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