As we wind down the school year, some parents are reflecting back on the accomplishments of their child’s scholastic year, and others are thinking of summer plans for their children. Yet, many other parents are trying to figure out where to send their respective elementary, high school, seminary or yeshiva child to next year. With this in mind I would like to share with you the following thoughts.
A few months ago, the Torah world was hurled back into history with the clear vivid images of a living Chofetz Chaim, surrounded by a mass of Yidden, at the first Kenesiah HaGedolah. It felt somewhat like Techius HaMeisim. We all know the great works of the Chofetz Chaim, the Mishna Berurah, the sefer on Shmiras HaLashon. His words are universally accepted and studied daily by worldwide Jewry. So, to see this great tzaddik “live”, in black and white, walking slowly, surrounded by an entourage of followers, brought him back to life.
A story, perhaps not so well known, illustrates the Chofetz Chaim’s tremendous love and concern he showed for Klal Yisroel.
A philanthropist once came to visit the Chofetz Chaim in Radin, but as soon as the Chofetz Chaim saw the man, instead of giving him respect as he would normally have done, the Chofetz Chaim gave him an icy stare and had him unceremoniously escorted from his presence. The man was dumbfounded and was determined to stay in Radin to find out why the Chofetz Chaim seemed displeased with him.
The man came back and asked to speak with the Chofetz Chaim and begged to come in. He finally stood face to face and he beseeched the tzaddik “what did I do wrong?”. The tzaddik answered that it was all HIS fault! The philanthropist asked the tzaddik to elaborate, as he was baffled as to what had been “his fault” and to what the Chofetz Chaim was referring to. The tzaddik continued, “More than 3 million of our Jewish brethren are suffocating under the harsh yoke of Communism, and all the oppression, pain and suffering they are going through is all YOUR fault.”
The Chofetz Chaim continued. “Many years ago when you were an administrator in a local Talmud Torah, there was a young boy called Leibel who learned in your cheder and who had lost his father and was living with his struggling mother. The boy acted out, was wild, had a sharp tongue and caused trouble due to his deprived childhood.
In the end you lost patience and had him thrown out of school and he ended up going to a non-Jewish school where he flourished. He was extremely smart and brilliant and could have become a Rosh Yeshiva. Instead he absorbed secular knowledge and became a leader among the non-Jewish population. His name became the famous Leon Trotsky who was the supreme high rank commander of the Red Army and one of the founders of Communism. How many thousands of neshamas have suffered due to his insidious ideology? And so I ask, who is to blame if not you? Leave me; I cannot bear to look at your face!”
What would the Chofetz Chaim say today to all those individuals who throw out children from mossdos never to return? Would he not also say “Leave me, I cannot bear to see your face”?
Ultimately, the Chofetz Chaim felt that this man was responsible for his talmid’s future. We too must also take the responsibility for every single student, taking preventative measures in making sure that each talmid succeeds in their Torah studies, and helping them find simcha in learning.
Let us learn from history and the ripple effect and repercussions which occurred for generations to follow in the above story. No individual who is working in Chinuch, should ever feel the need to throw a child out of school, but should accept every child for his potential and think of how great he could become.
When responsible parents apply to a mossod for their child, we can safely assume that they have done their research and feel that that particular mossad would be the best fit for their child and they should be accepted.
Our approach for accepting students into our mossdos should parallel the Baalei Teshuva institutions where doors are open 24/7 without prejudice, where they are invited in with open arms to join their mossad.
Parents should not have to go around running and crying to Rabbonim and pillars of our communities to plead their cause, begging to get their child into a mossad.
Just as we learn and have integrated the Chofetz Chaim’s mehalech into our lives, we must also follow his example of never turning away a student. If we heed his words, we have the potential to produce thousands more students who could become Roshei HaYeshiva and highly successful talmidei chochomim.
Let us remember that just 70 years ago we lost 2 million Jewish childen – we cannot afford to lose any more.
The Chofetz Chaim’s words “Leave me, I do not want to see your face again” should never have to be said again.
Rabbi Dovid Abenson is the founder and director, author and lecturer at Shaar HaTalmud, a unique yeshiva based online program, featuring evaluations and remediations, working with students to upgrade skills in Hebrew reading, chumash/rashi and gemara studies, consulting school principals world – wide to improve their ability to discover students who possess under-developed skills. He can be reached at [email protected] or 1-877-HATALMUD (428 2568).