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Lecture by Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe
8th of Cheshvan, 5764, December 3, 2003

 

Only with Love—the Education of Children Today

 

We need to know what kind of education works for our generation today.

Thirty years ago, fifty years ago, education meant telling the child what to
do, yelling at him if he did not do it, punishing, beating..that was how it
was..

You cannot educate children that way today.

Today all education of children has to be done with love. Wherever children
are educated, in the home, in every primary school, in every
yeshiva—everywhere there is education—know this, that today education is
only with love. Students and children have to feel the love of their
parents and their teachers.

This does not meant surrendering to the children. You must tell them what
is expected of them...but every word you say to them, all that you ask of
them, must nevertheless be said with love.

There are many, many young men roaming the streets of Jerusalem today. They
left the yeshivot...it is hard for them at home...what happened to them? If
you look into what did happen, you will find that indeed they did come from
good homes, but they were tough homes, they got yelled at and hit...and they
could not endure it. They left the cheder, left the home...

A tragedy.

Today you can only educate children with love. You have to show children
your love for them even when you are making demands upon them.

What does it mean, only to educate children with love? What is hard today
about yelling at a child, beating him, that was not hard before? There is
very good explanation for this difference:

Childred today, students in general, do not have enough faith in themselves
to believe that they have any real strengths or capabilities of
accomplishment.

Yelling at them, or hitting them, makes them feel they have
nothing at all in life! Naturally they then quit learning altogether...

If you approach children and students with love you will make them feel that
they do indeed have something, that they do have strengths that they can
rely upon. Once a child believes in their own strengths, then, all by
themselves, they are going to want to start accomplishing things and
acquiring knowledge. This puts a child, a student, on the road to success
in learning, in Torah, in fulfillment of the commandments, in all that they
need to do.

We can really understand this concept. If you approach students with love
they will feel that they must have some real strengths to have earned this
kind of faith from others. Feeling that their powers are trusted by others,
the students will be ready to perform whatever tasks they are supposed to
perform. They will know that they will succeed, because the educator must
have believed in their abilities to have approached them with such love.
With this confidence the children will ascend spiritually, they will become
greater people, and they will eventually succeed in the whole way of life
that youth is.

Whether it is education in the home, education in the cheder, education in
the yeshiva ketana, education in the yeshiva gedola, education in girls'
primary schools, education in the seminaries for young women, whenever
students, male and female, are approached with love, they sense that they do
have powers. If they do have powers, then they themselves will want to use
their powers to achieve.

Again, love does not mean surrender. Do not surrender. The things that
have to be observed, have to be observed. But it is with love that you
tell them what they must do. Thus your entire way of relating to children
and students will be through love. Show them love. Then every child, every
student will say to themselves, 'See, they love me!'

There is no other way education is going to succeed today.

This might mean parents and teachers are going to have to control themselves
now and then. Even if children act improperly, do not release any anger at
the child, no yelling, no hitting...No! Even if the child acts improperly,
it is with love that you must correct them.

Explain to them how much better they are than what they did, and they will
sense that you do believe in them. Let them see how they have the
capability for good.

Deal with children this way and they will want to ascend, to achieve, and to
mature. Recognizing that they have powers they will suddenly want to
achieve the possible, in Torah, in commandments, in personal conduct...it is
in this way that the parents, teachers, and Rabbis of our generation are
going to build the generations to come. Heaven forbid, the alternative is
what we have even now, young men wandering the streets, not learning any
more...all of this came about because they were dealt with through attacks,
anger and punishment!

This is over now. Children are now going to hear that they are respected,
they are going to see and feel that they possess strengths they can turn to
good use, and all by themselves they are going to want to ascend and achieve
in life.

This looks to me like a great fundamental principle, both the observation
that it is only with love that we educate our children today, and the reason
we for it, the need to give new faith to our children and students. They
must understand that they have strengths that they do not believe in today.
Being treated this way will bring them to recognize their powers in their
very hearts, forming within these young men and women new strengths, a new
desire to implement their powers, and they will yearn to achieve.

May it be God's will that we treat our children this way, and succeed at
raising children and students who do ascend spiritually in Torah, in
commandments, and in self-completion (shleimut). God help us, this is a
very great concept that we needed to explain at some time, Amen...

 

HaRav Wolbe, Shlita, always refers to G-d indirectly. We spell the name
without the dash in this translation. Parentheses () indicate
transliterations of the word before the parentheses. Brackets [] are
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the Mashgiach reads appear in italics as well as quotation marks. This
translation, by Aryeh Tench, tenchfam@actcom.co.il, is copyrighted for HaRav
Shlomo Wolbe, Shlita. It may be distributed to others on a non-profit
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