How to Stop the Invasion of Secularism, Guaranteed

Jews across NY State are in an uproar about a government mandate that would force secular values upon our schools. Besides signing the petition, there’s something else we can do to stop the invasion of secularism.

By Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier

Some fifth graders in one of our yeshivos were dealing with some conflict amongst themselves. They finally approached their teacher for advice who suggested that they bring the matter to the school’s therapist. “He’ll teach you about conflict resolution.”

We emphasize that Torah has all the answers. We teach what the Rambam writes[1]: “Peace is great, for the entire Torah was given to bring about peace within the world.” But when it comes to the practical application in our classroom, we send our students to a therapist? Granted, he was a frum therapist, but his credentials in the school are his secular education, not his Torah knowledge. What if we seize such opportunities to teach our students how Torah can actually help us in our daily life?

As a young student myself, I distinctly remember our teachers sending us to the senior teachers or mashpiim in our yeshiva to help us resolve conflicts. The message we got was clear: As frumeh Yidden, we turn to Torah for guidance. Always. Every time.

The Jewish community is now in an uproar against the proposed government mandate on our children’s chinuch. Yidden from all communities, schools, and yeshivos are united in fighting to prevent goyishkeit from dictating how we educate our children. This movement is a refreshing indication of our strong belief in Torah values.

We are being urged to sign petitions, and we must do so ( We can also use this opportunity and the momentum to look within ourselves and ask: Are we perhaps too lax in keeping goyishkeit out of our own lives?

Are we exercising enough caution and care with the reading material we give our children, at home and in school?

When I need advice on parenting or shalom bayis, what’s my first stop? Torah, or secular wisdom?

There is of course a place for doctors and therapists, but they should not be our destination for guidance in a healthy life. Our baseline must be Torah. Have we gotten to a point R”l where we’re allowing these goyishe elements into our life without exercising enough caution? Therapists can be reserved for healing the sick while education and guidance must come from Torah.

We read in Pirkei Avos (5:20): “The brazen-faced go to Gehinnom, and the shamefaced to Gan Eden.”

Reb Zushe of Anipoli[2] interpreted this as follows:

In this world, we have both: environments that are hostile to Yiddishkeit and those that are inviting. One who is shamefaced, not completely strong and confident in his Yiddishkeit, can survive only in the “Gan Edens,” the inviting environments of the world. But those who are brazen-faced, strong, confident, and proud of their Yiddishkeit, can enter even into the “Gehinnoms” of this world, and proudly stand up for the Torah.

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all those who are tirelessly and relentlessly fighting for our rights as Yidden. They are brazenly entering the darkest “Gehinnoms” and spreading the light and pride of Torah.

May Hashem bless their efforts, and may we take inspiration from them to stand up to our own “Gehinnoms”.

May the changes that we make in our lives, both personally and as a community, rise up as a petition to the beis din shel maalah, and bring salvation to all of Klal Yisroel.

[1] Rambam, conclusion of hilchos Chanukah

[2]  Beis Aaron, likutim.

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