Who’s Making Chinuch Decisions in Our Schools?

In the summer of 5718 (1958), there was a huge controversy amongst activists and journalists about a certain demonstration about Eretz Yisroel. At a farbrengen, the Rebbe noted that with all the screaming and blaming, people were missing the most vital point.

By Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier – The Beis Medrash

In the summer of 5718 (1958), there was a huge controversy amongst frumeh activists and journalists regarding a demonstration that took place on behalf of the frumeh Yidden in Eretz Yisroel. Some said it was the right thing and others argued that it was wrong and even a chillul Hashem.

At the farbrengen for Yud Beis Tammuz the Rebbe said that with all the screaming and blaming, people were missing the most vital point.

Decisions such as these should be made by practicing Rabbanim, not by baalei baatim. Everything and anything to do with Torah and halachah must be decided upon only by people whose sole occupation is Torah. The Rebbe quoted the famous words of Sefer Me’iras Einayim: “The opinions of the baalei baatim contradict those of the Torah!”

To be sure, the Rebbe explained, baalei baatim are often talmidei chachamim and refined people. But since their occupation is not solely Torah, their vision is skewed, and cannot be relied upon for Torah decisions.

Parenthetically, the Rebbe continued, since we can learn a lesson from everyone, it would serve us well to learn a lesson from the Reform and Conservative movements in this regard. They show respect for their “rabbis” and empower them to make all decisions pertaining to “halachah.” The baalei baatim don’t mix in.

Regarding the cheit ha’egel, the Torah says that the Yidden became a “disgrace amongst all nations.” What was so disgraceful?

The Kli Yakar[1] explains that other nations respect their deities and their spiritual leaders. With cheit ha’egel the Yidden had gone against their G-d and against their leaders. And this was disgraceful.

As a result of the cheit ha’egel, Moshe Rabbeinushattered the luchos. Later, Hashem instructed that these luchos be placed in the aron hakodesh for posterity. 

Seforim explain that the aron—which housed the luchos—and the keruvim—which had faces like a young boy and girl—symbolize the idea of teaching and learning Torah. Hashem made it clear that the most sacred item in Yiddishkeit is the chinuch of our children.[2]

Is it by chance that the aron also housed the reminder of the cheit ha’egel?

Perhaps the message is that when it comes to making chinuch decisionsin our mosdos—our aron hakodesh—we must remember the devastation that comes when baalei batim take things into their own hands instead of seeking out da’as Torah.

 *  *  *

Chazal tell us that Moshe Rabbeinu was unable to build the Menorah from a single piece of gold, so Hashem instructed him to throw the block of gold into the fire and it miraculously molded itself. [3]

It’s surprising, therefore, that although the keruvim also had to be made from one piece of gold, Hashem didn’t provide the option of throwing the gold into the fire as well.

Perhaps the message to be learned is that when it comes to chinuch we can’t expect to throw our “gold,” i.e., our pure and holy children, into a mosad chinuch and expect things to work out automatically.

First, as parents, we have a lot to do at home. And second, we must be vigilant that the mosed is staying true to its task. If we notice that the mosad is making decisions based on the opinions of baalei batim and not daas Torah, we have an obligation to reach out to them and demand better. And when a mosad follows daas Torah, we the parents must have the humility to support and obey their rulings.

Through all of us doing our part, may Hashem give us true, Torahdigeh, nachas from all our children and all our students.

[1] 23:25

[2] See Kli Yakar of Terumah 25:17, Sichos Kodesh 5741 of Parshas Terumah, and others.

[3] The three things which Moshe Rabbeinu found perplexing are all hinted to in his name: Mem – Menorah, Shin – Shekalim and Hei – Hachodesh (Zohar, Parshas Teruma).

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