Dec 8, 2009

Brainwashing versus Chinuch


The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines "brainwashing" as:

1 : a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas

2 : persuasion by propaganda or salesmanship

Is instilling your values in your children brainwashing?

What about those who refer to religious instruction, including what is taught in our frum homes and schools, as brainwashing (whether they use that word or imply it) - are they right? wrong?

It has been said that someone who raises their children with a religious education cannot be said to be brainwashing them, any more than one who raises their children with a secular education. Weren't the citizens of the Soviet Union (and other communist countries) brainwashed with atheism?

Brainwashing is to remove what is in the brain and put something else there.

Teaching is not brainwashing as it is to fill a void in the brain!

Since our Sages say that Jews are maaminim bnei maaminim ("believers children of believers") then telling our children about Hashem is telling them something they already know, albeit not intellectually.

Our Sages say that the fetus is taught the entire Torah in the uterus, so teaching children Torah and about mitzvos is teaching them something that they learned before.

So rather than indoctrinating (drilling) them with ideas about G-d, Torah, and mitzvos, chinuch is actually reminding them of that which they knew already on a soul-level.

That's vastly different than thinking that you have to convince them of the truths of Torah.

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