In my last article “The Rejection from school, Yeshiva, or Seminary” part 1, I received numerous emails. I would like to share some of them with my readers, and my replies.*
Dear Rabbi Abenson,
My name is Dov ….. I always read your articles in the Lakewood scoop. I find them extremely informative and get a lot of chizuk from your recent article on not getting kids into a school called “Rejection from school Yeshiva or Seminary”.
I am going through that now as my daughter has been rejected from all the high schools we applied for in Lakewood. My daughter is a great kid in midos and frumkeit, chesed, etc. She is a bit lower academically but we have promised the schools like we have done all the years that will do whatever it will take to get her the extra help she needs, but apparently, that’s not good enough, either it’s kept me and my wife for nights for months already as we pride ourselves on running an excellent Yiddish home and to see how people have no regard for others. I am not sure how much this affects my daughter as she does not talk about it, but certainly, you can feel the pressure of this taking a toll on the family. I can go on and on but I just wanted to reach out as I see at the end of your article as an option. I feel like we have spoken to everyone already to no avail so reaching out to you gives me chizuk that there is still an ear out there.
Thank you for everything you do.
I feel your pain. I have been getting numerous calls since I posted the article on the blog. You are not alone. Daas Torah in your town says no school should be open until every child is catered for. Please reach out to your community Rabbonim to correct this situation. Another suggestion, albeit Plan B, could be to speak to the Menahel in my town. I know your daughter is only 14, but Bais Yaakov here has taken out-of-towners before, if you would consider her leaving home for high school. If you are interested, I will forward you his number. I wish you hatzlacha. Send me your daughter’s name to daven for.
“ Good morning Rabbi Abenson. Finally after reading your latest article in the Lakewood scoop called “The Rejection from School, Yeshiva, or Seminary” part one, I’ve decided to contact you. My 18-year-old son Dovid started as a child in regular (chassidishe) cheder till kitah gimmel and from there a few “massaos” . He is a good kid, no trouble or anything illegal BH, but has not been in Yeshiva for a long time. He’s into video editing (visual) so he does work here and there in that field, but I would love to get him back into a good place for him to grow and learn what he has missed all this time. What should I do? Thank you in advance, Chaim.”
After evaluating Dovid in front of his parents via zoom, it was self-explanatory why he had opted out of the learning system and gone into video editing.
Dovid read in syllables and his Rashi reading was poor. His foundation skills were practically non-existent. He could not translate a verse in the Chumash correctly. I told him that I admired him, that he hadn’t turned off the Derech because he couldn’t learn, and went into editing videos that don’t require reading skills per say. He understood that if he wanted to go back to yeshiva, he would have to fix up his foundation skills. Back to Basics, a course in reading Hebrew, dikduk, and of course how to learn gemara. I emphasized he wasn’t to blame but it is the Jewish education system we have today. The crisis exists in every sect of Yiddishkeit, especially in the Chassidishe world. Hebrew grammar and exact translation are not a focus. I have worked with all sects in the Chassidishe kehillos, and bochurim with identical problems. I venture to say that this could be one of the reasons why more and more chassidishe singers are going into the music and singing industry- reading is not crucial.
Dear Rabbi Abenson,
I know you deal with boys and bochurim that suffer in their learning due to a lack of proper foundational skills. As a result, they fall behind and cannot keep up. I have the opposite problem: in my institution, my learning ability is far above (not to be arrogant, it’s just the truth) all the other boys and as a result, the shiur is given is horribly boring, simply because the amount of material covered is so minimal compared to the amount that I could be learning in a shiur at my level (I don’t mean to cover Gemara more quickly, rather do it more beiyun).
What to me are basic concepts easily understood, need to be explained at length before everyone else can understand. My translation ability is also far greater and I just have to wait while everyone else is still learning how to identify roots and the like. The svoro of the Gemara needs to be explained at such a simple level and at such length that I often find it difficult to concentrate. Additionally, a Gemara that I understand the first time often needs to be repeated countless times for everyone else. Because of all this, I’m forced to do limudim outside of school just so I can learn something at my speed and feel like I’m learning. Don’t get me wrong, my school is great, it’s just that I don’t belong there in terms of my ability. I also cannot leave the school because I need the chol examinations that only it offers, and that will take two more years from this point. What am I supposed to do? Do I just leave and forget about the chol exams?
Thank you very much, Yossi
Bochurim such as yourself are our future Gedolim, however, the system does not cater to you. You must be stretched. I would recommend you have a meeting with the Rosh HaYeshiva with the aim of putting together a chabura of highly gifted Bochurim to bring out your strengths. As I recommended to another bochur in a similar situation, he received permission to stop going to the shiur, and he found a chavrusa and finished the whole Bava Kama during winter zman with Rashi Tosefos well before the other 300 bochurim.
I do recommend you complete your Chol exams. It is important to be proficient in one’s mother tongue in order to articulate oneself in expression and the written Torah. Yeshivish English is not beneficial when learning Torah. To help solidify your learning, I also recommend (during morning time), to take out shvacher or younger boys who are struggling.
If you would like me to speak to the Rosh HaYeshiva, I am happy to do so.
I Just read your story
This is ME!
I went through the same Gehinnom in the early 1970s, my parents were survivors and I was an only (adopted) child.
I didn’t fit the cookie-cutter.
My parents sent me to Switzerland for 3 years. The best 3 years of my life. Age 14-17. I learned more during those 3 years (in a loving nurturing setting) than ANY of my friends back home.
I vowed to pay it back.
I went into chinuch and am currently a principal in a large yeshiva. I have raised a beautiful family (all married with ka”h a nice brood of einikelach, kein yirbu)
Kudos to you for what you do – and shame on the “system”.
To contact me or sponsor my seforim please contact my office at Tel. 15147393629
Email: [email protected]
Rabbi Abenson is the founder and director of ShaarHatalmud, a unique yeshivah-based online program, which incorporates learning all Kodesh subjects, from Kriah up to learning Gemara, Rishonim, and Shulchan Aruch. He also conducts evaluations, remediation, and training, and consults with school principals to improve students’ underdeveloped skills.
*All names have been changed