The Agenda – by Rabbi Dovid Abenson

I recently read an article where a parent asked a noted mechanech a question on Chinuch. In his answer, the mechanech discussed the concept of homework, remarking that homework should be completed properly and also signed by the parents. In discussion, he quoted a well known gadol who emphasizes giving each child unconditional love. Interesting enough, the same gadol also emphasises a no homework policy, maintaining that school should be the place to learn and the home should be a place of refuge and time with the family.

This made me ponder; is the godol’s daas Torah being used for biased agenda, accepting only what fits into a person’s own ideology?

An example in point; a few years ago, a mechanech was asked to go to a certain jewish community to implement an educational program into the community’s mosdos. The gadol, who had asked the mechanech to go to the town, arranged meetings with three top menahelim of the town. After what appeared to be productive and informative meetings with the mechanech, the menahelim decided not to support implementing the program into the schools. When the mechanech pointed out that the gadol himself supported his educational program, they responded with ” the gadol is indeed a gadol but not a mechanech!”

On another occasion, Rabbi Steinman Shlita, whose psak is upheld throughout the Torah world, issued a statement stating that bochurim which come out of yeshiva ketana do not know how to learn Gemara on their own and that this problem should be addressed. This statement never made headlines.

I highlighted just two examples (of which there are more), to illuminate how agendas can sometimes take precedence, even when antithetical to a gadol’s psak.

Children observe and learn by example. If they sense a “pick and choose” tendancy, it can create a fundamental flaw towards the child’s own respect for gedolim, fitting psak to fit their own agenda as they mature into adults.

As Torah teaches us ”You shall come to the Kohanim,the Levites,and to the judge who will be in those days; and you shall inquire and they will tell you the word of judgment. You shall do according to the word that they will tell you, from that place that Hashem will choose, and you shall be careful to do according to everything that they will teach you[Devorim 17:9/10].

The above posukim strongly warns future generations to follow the words of the Sages of their respective eras. Rashi comments “even if he is not like the other judges who were before him you must listen to him……….you shall not turn from the word that they will tell you, right or left.” [Devorim 17:9/11].

We, as parents and educators must continue to teach our children that our gedolim have been endowed with a special Siyata d’Shmaya in administering psak. These decisions may not always appear to be justified in our eyes, or to our way of thinking, but yet ultimately our gedolim are our daas Torah, and we must follow their path as the Torah is directing us to do. May this approaching New Year bring brocho v’hatzlacha to all Klal Yisroel.

Rabbi Dovid Abenson is the founder and director, author and lecturer 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 world – wide to improve their ability to help students who possess under-developed skills. Also available for in house training for schools and yeshivos.

He can be reached at: ravabenson @ shaarhatalmud .com or 1-877-HATALMUD (428-2568)

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