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27 Shvat 5777 - February 23, 2017 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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HaRav Gershon Eidelstein Speaks on the Responsibility and Task of Mechanchim in Emunah

By Y. Sheinfeld

In a special talk given by HaRav Gershon Eidelstein in Yeshivas Ponovezh, he conveyed words of poignant guidance regarding the chinuch of boys and girls by their melamdim and teachers.

He said, among other things, "Every kindergarten teacher is much more than a baby-sitter, which is commendable in itself as a chesed to parents and to the children themselves in keeping them safe, however in addition to this is the fact that she davens `Modeh Ani' with the children, says `Shema', `Bircas Hamazon' and teaches them various Jewish values, for all this is a zikui harabbim of increasing emunah in Hashem.

"It is important that these teachers talk about emunah, about the Creation of the world in detail, the existence of Hashem the Creator and that the world was created in six days, the sun was created and the moon was created, and other such matters. They must entrench massive `doses' of emunah in the children, and this is actually what is being done in all chareidi kindergartens. It also constitutes zikui harabbim in the kindergartens and also a zikui harabbim that everyone does in his or her own home.

"This is all the more true and vital for those who teach actual Torah in chadorim and educate them in Torah values and emunah, and in the girls' Bais Yaakov schools as well. This is certainly a very great zikui harabbim.

"When a baby begins talking, one must first teach him to say `Torah tziva lanu Moshe', and also the first posuk of Shema, Modeh Ani and so on even though the child is still very young and is just starting to speak. He does not yet understand what he is saying but is learning to pronounce these words, and he begins his day with Modeh Ani and ends it with pesukim of Shema Yisrael.

"Thus, at the very beginning of his life, a child's parents are enriching him with Torah and spirituality when they teach him to say Modeh Ani and Shema Yisrael, so that as he grows, he will know about emunah since it was inculcated in him from a very young age, even before he understood what he was saying. And so, from the very beginning, even before he understands anything, his parents are zoche and mezakeh him!

"I recall from my own childhood that people around me talked about Gehennom, making me aware of reward and punishment as soon as I was able to begin to grasp these concepts. Parents talked about this with very young children to make them aware of Gan Eden and Gehennom. There are mitzvos and aveiros and mitzvos bring Gan Eden and aveiros bring Gehennom. They would even try to make these concepts come to life. The fear of Gehennom did not cause anxiety and fear in us because at the same time, they described the great reward for Torah study and mitzvah performance, explaining that the reward was far greater than the punishment for sin. Knowing about punishment only increased the children's yiras Shomayim rather than daunting or depressing them. Thus, educators should also realize that they are strengthening the homes through the carry-over effect of their chinuch."


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