Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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4 Cheshvan 5761 - November 2, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
Proper Behavior With Other People

by HaRav Nosson Einfeld

More stories and insights from a veteran educator.

We must treat children and talmidim with much patience and genuine love. Never, never should we belittle any student or child, and we should always conduct lengthy discussions with each one. No talk is wasted. Even if we do not see its immediate influence, it is absorbed by the talmid and years later he remembers it. When he is more mature he understands better what was once said to him. Many times students have told me that now they understand what I told them many years ago.

A godol beTorah, a rosh yeshiva, recently came over to me and said he wanted to speak to me. He said: "I want you to know that the shmuessen you once said in Yeshivas Beer Sheva had a tremendous effect on the talmidim. Twenty years ago you had a talmid who came from a secular home. He did not understand gemora too well, and therefore after two weeks left the yeshiva. He managed during these two weeks to hear four shmuessen, on Shabbos and during the middle of the week, and you befriended him warmly at the time. He heard about simple concepts: that the world is not hefker, the Creator of the World runs the world, we must do what the One in charge tells us, a Jew does not die like a donkey, and every Jew has a holy neshomoh. A Jew has an olam haboh. Gehennom and Gan Eden exist, and through Torah and mitzvos a person is zoche to techiyas hameisim. Without Torah and mitzvos, why should a person be considered Jewish? -- All of these truths he absorbed well and it got into his blood.

"Even when he left the yeshiva he always thought about these simple concepts. Although in fact he behaved like a completely secular Jew and served in the army the same way any secular Jew does, these simple words always bothered him. `Whether HaRav Einfeld was correct or not' disturbed his conscience continuously. After he finished his army stint he decided that it was true that a Jew is not a donkey nor is he like a person of any other nation. He became a full baal teshuvah.

"Today he studies in our kollel and is one of the most prominent talmidei chachomim there. This is the talmid who studied under you for only two weeks, and because of the shmuessen he heard and thought about over the years, and his close relationship with you, he did teshuvah. I said to myself that I must come and tell you about this, since it is important for us to know that no heartfelt talk is wasted."

In short, the most pivotal principle in education for each parent and educator is possessing a bottomless well of patience. One should not allow, cholila, personal scores against our children and students to mix in. We must measure each act we do and every word we say, whether it is for that student's benefit, or perhaps all he is doing is subduing his anger. It is imperative to remember constantly that we are dealing with saving lives and that, cholila, we should not turn our backs on any child because of impatience.

All this is especially true in our spiritually destitute generation, in which the posuk has been fulfilled, "For behold, darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the peoples" (Yeshaya 60:2). We feel a tangible darkness enwrapping us. Throughout the world, Hashem hides His divine presence and the attraction to permissiveness is overwhelming. Doubtless we must be extra careful not, cholila, to cause even one nefesh to distance itself from the Torah because of our over- hastiness.

The Chazon Ish ztvk'l, the foremost Torah educator and posek of our times, was brought to this lowly generation by HaKodosh Boruch Hu so that we could feel the revelation of Elokus and the Shechina through this holy and pure tzaddik. He instructed us to treat talmidim only with love. "We must help them return [to Hashem] by extending love to them and enlightening them as much as we are capable of" (Yoreh Dei'ah 2:16). We should be especially cautious to handle young boys from irreligious homes with warmth and genuine caring.

Relations With Others

Several gedolei Torah mentioned that one reason for the many terrible tragedies that have recently befallen us is improper treatment of our fellow Jews. Sometimes we argue or quarrel with others, a behavior that inevitably causes sinas chinom, even between family members and friends. Sometimes the hatred can flame up into real wickedness and cruelty.

Here are some anecdotes that I myself witnessed:

1) HaRav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner, the rav of Zichron Meir in Bnei Brak and rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin, always talks in his droshoh on Shabbos Shuvoh about not preventing people from putting up their succah even when it somewhat disturbs a neighbor. I saw a person whose apartment, for certain reasons, did not have a place for a kosher succah. He wanted to build a succah by enlarging his porch, which is far away from any building so that the extension would not discomfort anyone. Nonetheless, a neighbor in another building enlisted all of his sons and sons-in-law to stop the man from building this succah. This neighbor rejected all appeals to allow the family to build their succah, and they suffered for fourteen years without a succah.

2) A certain Torah institution is located on the top floor of a building, some eighty steps up. Every day about twenty talmidei chachomim, including elderly Jews, some of whom are weak and sick, some even suffering heart problems, walk up, or should we say climb, these seemingly endless steps. Naturally they do so with enormous difficulty. Three years ago engineers sketched out the plans for an elevator, but certain neighbors opposed the plans. Do not think that those who opposed the plans are radical Leftists. Not at all, not at all . . . . This is surely difficult to believe, but it is a fact that many people know about. I do not know how those opposing the elevator justify themselves. Do they not have any emunah? Do they think the world is hefker? Do they think HaKodosh Boruch Hu allows us to behave cruelly and then escape punishment? The gzar din for the churban of the Beis Hamikdash was given because of just one exceptionally cruel act (Gittin 58a) that no one protested against (see the Maharsha).

Everyone knows that there are gemachim for almost everything under the sun among religious people. I suggest that a gemach be set up to provide people who are willing to deal with those possessed of middos ro'os and traits of cruelty and wickedness. In this way we will show that the community protests against such behavior.

3) I remember a terrible story I saw in Yerushalayim some sixty years ago in which a cheder child was treated with utter depravity.

At the end of the school year a fellow classmate went over to the smallest child, let us call him Yanki, and told him: "I am warning you, Yanki, not to continue in this class next year. If you do I'll break your bones." The young student was a quiet and refined child and did not at all understand what the bully wanted from him. Yanki did not even take the matter seriously, and told no one about his classmate's threat.

The new school year began and Yanki was promoted together with all his classmates. After the first school day was over, when everyone was going home, the stout and able-bodied bully caught Yanki. He carried out his promise and gave him a severe beating. The bully beat up this hapless child for a whole hour, but Yanki did not even scream for help. Afterward he cried for a long time from his pains. When Yanki reached home he did not tell his parents anything. His was a family with many children, and since he did not complain they could not know that something was wrong.

For several weeks Yanki suffered terrible pains but was silent. It seems that he was a naturally quiet boy, and therefore this whole episode passed by without anyone knowing about it.

But HaKodosh Boruch Hu, the Merciful Father, did not remain silent! After many years I met that bully, and found that he had meanwhile become mentally deranged. Although still physically well built, he was dressed in torn pants and shirt, trembled like a leaf and talked strangely. I was shocked to see him looking like this. The bully said to me: "Nosson! Do you remember me? Heaven punished me because I beat up that kid Yanki. I have been hospitalized in an institute for the insane for many years and no one knows how this happened to me. But I know . . . "

The world is not hefker. I knew that bully personally. He was once an intelligent and extremely talented boy. But when he beat up Yanki he was already after bar mitzvah age and was held responsible for what he did.

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