Coronavirus has brought new sets of challenges to our daily lives. Veteran mechanech Rabbi Sholom DovBer Avtzon shares some thoughts on how we can apply the spirit of L’chatchilla Ariber to our present-day challenges.
By Rabbi Sholom DovBer Avtzon
As today is Beis Iyar, the 186th birthday of the Rebbe Maharash, (we begin to say for him kapital 37), I decided to post a thought connected to his saying and approach of Lchatchilla Ariber.
Last week was the 28th of Nissan, when the Rebbe gave the instruction and empowerment saying, “Do everything you can do to bring Moshiach.” The Rebbe also noted it should be with the uncontained “lights” of Tohu in the vessels of Tikkun.
Currently we are all sitting in our homes. Whether it is in America or in any other country, we are all under certain guidelines of social distancing. One of the possible casualties of this is the chinuch of our children.
Even though the Yeshivos and schools are doing a tremendous job in adapting to this challenge by utilizing conference calling and zoom technology, etc. it is still not the same as the real classroom experience.
Many schools and Yeshivos have somewhat modified schedules, especially when it comes to the younger classes.
Yes, they are truly demonstrating that they are willing to adapt in order to give our children the education they need. Ask any teacher and they will say that it is much more comfortable for them to be in a classroom and teach their students than teaching a class via zoom.
However, in my phone conversations with students, I see that they also feel that this is not normal. I am not only speaking about the easiness to become distracted in their own homes versus in a classroom. But more importantly, they miss the classroom atmosphere. They miss the smile or nod that each teacher gives to them that bolsters their day. There is a special human connection that is not easily transmitted over electronically.
Yes some yeshivos are offering their students incentives to participate in each session, (which demonstrates their acknowledgement that this is a difficult challenge for the student), but a monetary or materialize incentive doesn’t come close to awareness that someone is interested in the student personally.
So I propose that we do everything we can in a manner of Lchatchilla Ariber. In addition to whatever schools are doing there should be an emphasis of one on one.
This can be accomplished in various ways.
Some schools have implemented Google voice mail for each class. Each student is required to record on the phone a possuk, Mishna, halacha or piece of gemora that was taught.
Obviously it shouldn’t be a large amount, but it should be something that the teacher or an assistant can listen to and hear each student. Sending an email or text message that the student said it nicely etc., will boost the child’s desire to do well.
Recently, I advised a teacher who has a small class that in addition to the classes he gives, he should make a rotation system and every day inform some students that he is going to call them directly and go over the material that was taught. (He is teaching Gemora and they should repeat the Gemora of the last two days.) He called me back to thank me, saying he noticed the students attention level went up drastically.
Is this a teacher’s obligation? Some may say no, especially if the teacher has young children at home themselves. However, if your child’s teacher called your son or daughter and had a few minutes of one to one talk, do you think your child would appreciate it? So let another child smile as well.
Yes this might be above and beyond a teachers responsibility, but on the day of Lchatchilla ariber, which comes just a few days after the 28th (= strength) of Nissan, I think it is appropriate.
Your feedback is greatly appreciated.
Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran mechanech and the author of numerous books on the Rebbeim and their chassidim. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Today’s post was sponsored in honor of the anticipated refuah shleima of Chaim Yaakov Zev ben Sara