EDUCATING OUR CHILDREN
We have learned that improvement of the learning schedule is a positive
thing. Now we will quote from Chovat Hatalmidim, from the essay, "A
Conversation With The Teachers and Parents of the Students". This essay
is a call to improve the education of the generation.
"We are accustomed to look at wayward youth as if they are the guilty
ones, and we are absolutely innocent. However, consider one of the
righteous qualities of our father, Avraham, mentioned by G-d: `Because
I know him, that he will command his children and his household after
him, to guard the way of G-d...' (Genesis 18:19).
"Why should we fool ourselves with all kinds of fanciful excuses such
as `we really want to transmit to them, but they are at fault because
they do not want to accept.' The guilt of this generation of youth is
great, and they refuse to listen, but imagine if these guilty ones were
alive in an earlier generation. Would they still refuse to receive?
"Previous generations were more fearful of the word of G-d. In the
instance of educating the youthful generation they were also more
fearful and they burned like fire. They were not negligent, and they
did not look cooly and calmly while a generation of youth sank into the
mire and the people of G-d fell into atheism. They arose in thunder,
and dedicated all their lives and all their strength to save the youth
and educate them in the way of G-d using all kinds of devices and
strategems to accomplish it.
"Consequently, we, the older generation, who are responsible to educate
the youth and transmit to them the holiness of G-d and His Torah and
His service, can we say, `Our hands did not spill this blood,' we did
not spill these Jewish souls into the pit of destruction?
"We also need to recognize our own guilt in this matter. Why do we
abandon them, without doing something about their sickness while they
are still young and it is within our power to do something to cure
them? We must not cast all the guilt upon youth, excusing ourselves,
saying, `Oh, these kids!' We must feel their pains, and their worries
about our own negligence. Only then we will be able to seek and find
some way, some advice about what to do to rectify and heal the sickness
of our people and pray to G-d that He should show us His way...."
From these words we can see that in every period we must find ways to
improve and perfect the systems of education in order that they will be
fitting for the needs of their times. However, these things need to be
done with proper deliberation and awareness, and together with the
guidance of gedolim.
We can cite here an example of how these things depend upon proper
deliberation and awareness. The question was raised in one educational
institution whether a mechanism for warming water should be attached to
the fountains from which the children take water for netilat yadayim.
This question was finally decided by the senior educator of the
institution who said, "If we educate the children to wash their hands
when it is comfortable, when will we educate them to do mitzvot when it
is difficult and not so comfortable! It is better to leave the water as
it is, and teach them that they must give their lives to fulfill the
(Bishvilai Hachinuch Vehahora'ah, p.25)