This week, the mayor of New York recognized that the only true solution to the gun problem is to become less secular and more G-dly. Baruch Hashem, we don’t have guns in our schools, but there are definitely undesirable influences infiltrating our classrooms and schoolyards.
By Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier
At an interfaith breakfast this week, New York’s mayor Eric Adams said (transcript):
“When I was growing up in South Jamaica, Queens, I was learning how to box and every time I would get in the ring, I would lose the fight. And my trainer will say, ‘Eric, the problem is you leave your best fight in the gym, and you’re supposed to take it into the ring with you.’ And that is what has happened to many of us. The synagogue is the gym. The church is the gym. The Sikh temple is the gym. The mosque is the gym. You are there for training. You are not there to leave your best worship in the gym.”
It must be hashgachah pratis that he should say this just several days before Purim.
A major part of celebrating Purim is through physical acts: mishloach manos, matanos l’evyonim and seudas Purim. The reason for this is based on what Chazal say, that during the story of Purim the Yidden reaffirmed their acceptance of the Torah and this was actually the culmination of Matan Torah. The purpose of Torah is that it should guide and affect every area of our lives. What’s the indication that we’re practicing Torah correctly? That even when we do ordinary things such as eating, drinking, working, or having fun, they are imbued with a spirit of kedushah. 
Reb Nochum of Chernobyl said in the name of the Baal Shem Tov:
Chazal say that since the destruction of the Beis Hamikdsah, Hashem was left with only the four amos of halachah. The simple understanding is that Hashem’s Presence can be felt mostly when studying Torah. But there’s also a deeper understanding. The four amos of halachah refer primarily to the space in which halachah is actualized, in the marketplace, with our families, and through all interpersonal dealings. When these are carried out in a G-dly way, those four amos are the ultimate haven for Hashem’s Presence.
We don’t need a goy to tell us the power and purpose of our Torah, yet apparently, Hashem chose Adams to remind us that our best worship is outside of the “gym.”
In a school or yeshiva where the students are learning Torah in the classroom the way they should, proper behavior should automatically be seen during sports, on trips, at recess and during mealtime. If the Torah we’re teaching isn’t affecting their behaviors in the “rings,” this isn’t a reason to search outside of Torah for guidance in how to educate our children and teach them social skills or the like. It’s an indication that we’re not yet maximizing the power of Torah. Or that we, the “coaches,” are not living examples.
Another point made by the mayor:
“When we took prayers out of schools, guns came in […] Don’t tell me about [no] separation of church and state. State is the body. Church is the heart. You take the heart out of the body, the body dies.”
Baruch Hashem, we don’t have guns in our schools, but there are definitely undesirable influences infiltrating our classrooms and schoolyards. The world is full of confusion and challenges, and we need to address this when educating our children. But it boggles the mind to think that we, the ones who have Torah, would bring secular guidance into our mosdos to deal with these issues instead of intensifying our efforts to draw down more Getlichkeit.
Focusing on woke topics such as feelings, self-awareness, trauma, secondary trauma, personal space, etc., are a fool-hearted attempt at helping our children. These passing fads are not the ultimate solution. And certainly not for a Yiddishe child with a neshamah.
This week, even a goy recognized that the only true solution is to become less secular and more G-dly. And even a goy recognized that a moment of silence, reflecting on a Higher Power, is more powerful than hours of lectures and workshops from secular sources.
And this, too, is related to Purim.
Mr. Yisroel Sadan was an influential educator in Eretz Yisroel for many years. In the winter of 5718 (1958) he visited the Rebbe, they spoke about his work, and the Rebbe gave him a pocket-sized Tanya. A short while later, the Rebbe wrote him a letter  in which he expressed the importance of giving children a full-fledged Torah education without compromise. The child must receive an education so strong, the Rebbe explained, that it will remain with him even once he is out on the street, exposed to the strong and unusual winds.
Then the Rebbe added an observation regarding Purim:
Chazal say that during the time of Haman’s gezeirah, Mordechai Hatzaddik gathered 22,000 children and studied with them the halachos of kemitzah, how the kohen would scoop flour with his fingers for the purpose of korbanos. The Rebbe points out that those halachos were irrelevant at the time since there was no Beis Hamikdash. Yet, it was this study that brought about the salvation. In fact, Haman himself admitted that the “handful” about which Mordechai and his students were learning outweighed all the silver he had offered Achashveirosh.
Torah, any part of Torah, taught properly, talks to the neshamah. And a fired-up neshamah brings about miracles. Haman knew this. Eric Adams seems to know this. And it’s up to, l’havdil, us to act on it.
 See Likutei Sichos, Vol 4, Pg. 1287, and Vol 3, Pg. 916.
 Igros Kodesh, Vol 18, Pg. 257
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