Apr 29, 2011

Blinded or Seeing What You Want to See

I read an article by Rabbi Leiby Burnham in which he waxed poetic about toddlers.  He writes, "Their life view, while limited, is not tainted.  They feel 'in power' all the time because they don't understand the concept of limitations.  They don't fear because they haven't yet been taught the concept of fear.  They truly feel that they can accomplish anything they set out to do, and will stop at nothing from achieving their desires."

As I read this, my immediate thought was - he is directly contradicting Rabbi Twerski! I remember being outraged when long ago, I read an article by R' Twerski on his favorite topic, self-esteem, in which he said that little children have less than zero self-esteem! His "proof" was, how would you feel if you had to live in a world in which nothing is your size and you had to climb up on to a chair and about the general impotence of children.

I was incredulous.  Surely, after raising his own family and seeing his numerous grandchildren, he didn't think that toddlers looked as though they were suffering from less than zero self-esteem! He knows the adage from R' Zushe of Anipoli about the three things we can learn from children: that when their needs are met they are happy, that they cry out when they need something, and are always busy.  Normal little children don't mope about their powerlessness!

This illustrates the idea that an optician notices everybody's glasses and someone who sells shoes notices what people are wearing on their feet.  R' Twerski's occupation is focused on self-esteem, primarily the lack thereof, and he sees it everywhere, even when it doesn't exist.


  1. Most toddlers are sure that they can do everything themselves, even when they can't and insist on doing it anyway. Everything in existence belongs to them (their first word is "no" and their second word is usually "mine")and they feel justified in demanding whatever they want whenever they want it. It is true that toddlers are always busy. That is why dangerous or breakable objects must be kept out of reach. They usually don't realize that their clothes are out of style or dirty or don't fit or cost less than the clothing of someone else. They are not ashamed of their parents like older kids are.
    No one has better self-esteem than a child under 3.