Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

7 Av 5766 - August 1, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

The Transformation
by A. Reader

Joni left us to go to yeshiva after Pesach when he was not quite seventeen. He was to be away till the following Pesach and I cried bitter tears. He was still such a baby and had never been away from home before. The oldest of 11 children, he was also the most demanding and the most difficult. What would he eat? He was a terribly fussy eater. Who would pick up his dirty laundry from under the bed, and who would wash it? Was it really seventeen years already since I had nursed him through nights of teething and earache? My baby was leaving home and I knew that things would never be the same again.

After the first month, the daily phone calls dwindled to twice weekly. Gradually we only heard from him once a week: short calls, which were very uninformative. 'How are you? Fine. Are you eating enough? Yes. Have you got good chavrusos? Yes. His weekly letters, "Dear Family" continued regularly, but they too gave us very little information about his daily life. The mashgiach assured us that he was doing well.

He came home, taller and thinner, with an incipient beard. A serious expression on his face, which we had never seen before. His voice was deeper. He was a proper Yeshiva Bochur. What had happened during the year to bring about this transformation?

A boy who goes to school or cheder is still a child. He waits for Break to play football (although in some places this is strictly forbidden, in which case the boys will find some other pastime) and comes home at night to fight with his siblings. Like most children, he thinks he is the only person in the world. As he gets older, he knows everything best, he certainly knows things better than either of his parents do. This is generalization, and perhaps slightly exaggerated, but parents of children in their early teens will recognize the syndrome.

The first year away from home, these boys are exposed to an entirely new world. The mashgiach in a yeshiva is father, mother, policeman, mentor and very good friend, although these traits or occupations are not combined in one person. Some mashgichim are not very popular among the boys and at the other end of the scale, there are those rare ones like the late R' Yeruchem Levovitch zt"l of Mirrer Yeshiva, who was a mashgiach par excellence. He left a lasting impression on anyone who came into contact with him.

Our Joni seems to have had an excellent mashgiach because he quoted him day and night. He never once fought with his brother, one year his junior, during his stay at home. He thanked me for almost every meal, and commented on how wonderful it was to have Mommy's food. He showed appreciation for his clean, ironed laundry, and took out the garbage without being asked. He had not turned into an angel; it was just that he now appreciated his home. In spite of this, he could not wait to get back to yeshiva.

The difference between school and yeshiva is mainly the freedom. Boys learn of their own free will: they are not governed by the bell and by homework assignments. They learn because they want to shteig and they feel in their element. There is an outstanding yeshiva, mainly for exceptional boys, whose rosh yeshiva has instructed his staff not to lean heavily on a boy who is learning well, if he does not come to davening on time.

He told them that these boys have not yet sorted out their biological clocks. They sit and learn halfway into the night, and find it difficult to get up in the mornings. Many people, parents in particular, might disagree with this point of view, yet this particular yeshiva produces very fine young men, with the right perspectives.

Not all boys maintain this complete changeover during the second year. There are many who seem to fall slightly from their high aspirations of the first year, and become a little less intense. However, by the third year, they are back to their single-minded objective, they want to become lamdonim and talmidei chachomim.

So, mothers, when you send your sons away, rejoice. They are in good hands and you will be pleasantly surprised by the change!


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