Thursday, August 07, 2008

Never on the Derech

Guest Post by Rabbi Dovid Landesman

In the course of responding to comments on the previous post Rabbi Landesman made the following points. I consider them so important that I am putting them up here so they will not get lost in a very lengthy comment section there. Here now are his words:


The point of that statement was to make it clear that I blame the yeshivos for the current "off the derech" phenomenon. There is no real curriculum in the yeshivot and no scope and sequence.

When I was teaching in Eretz Yisrael, I once heard Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l speak at an asifa and decry the fact that the yeshivot k'tanot - the parallel of the American high schools - did not have mashgichim to work with the boys.

His views were later repeated by Rav Mordechai Eliyahu shlita and Rav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul zt"l at a different gathering of mechanchim.

Abuse in all forms will almost inevitably scar the victims forever. But with proper therapy, chinuch and hadrachah the anger can be steered in a positive direction and the victim can discover that he need not leave the derech to find succor.

However, it will not happen, l'aniyat da'ati, until the entire olam hayeshivot understands that a rebbi needs to know a lot more about life than he does about achronim.

As parents - and as school administrators - the time has come to demand that no-one be allowed into a classroom without extensive life skill training.

As usual, I end with a story. A few years ago my son's eighth grade rebbi met with the parents at a back to school night conference and explained his "derech". He told us that he had a kabbala from his rebbi that it is important to encourage children [almost Montessori!]. One parent asked him wehat he does to encourage his students. He replied with the following example.

One of the talmidim who was doing rather poorly in the class approached him after a test and said: "Rebbi, I really studied and I think I got a 90." The rebbi replied: "Yankel, I'll be overjoyed if you get a 70!"

As long as our yeshivot hire people like this, and as long as we as parents do not demand that they be canned, I am afraid that we have only seen the first small wave of departees.