Jan 13, 2013

Thoughts from Rabbi Aisenstark

Here and there I've come across an article either written by Rabbi Shneur Aisenstark, principal of B.Y. of Montreal, or an interview with him.  There are often interesting tidbits.  For example:

In an issue of HaModia magazine it said that he described his dyslexia, his family's constant moving, and how various people in various yeshivos were nice to him and did the right thing by him. He said, "As mechanchim we know that no one, absolutely no one, drops out of a loving situation."
That's a powerful line.  Consider the inverse to that statement.
In a recent Family First interview about girls' chinuch he is quoted as saying, "Students don't want to hear tznius.  It's coming out of their ears.  They turn off.  We're not doing any good by going on and on about it again and again.  Yes, schools must have a dress code policy, but these rules are not what's going to make them tzanuos.  You know what's going to make them tzanuos? If we teach them eidelkeit.  I heard an anecdote about R' Nosson Tzvi [Finkel] that when he saw a young boy drinking from a soda can, he said to him, 'I consider you a ben Torah and a ben Torah doesn't drink out of a can.'  When I see a girl running down the hall, I tell her, "I consider you a bas Yisrael.  A bas Yisrael is like a queen.  Do you think the queen would run down the hall? Could you imagine your grandmother running down the hall?"
Here's a fascinating comment from him in that same interview:
"What I'm going to say may not be very popular but it needs to be said.  My parents left their families behind in Warsaw, Poland in 1935 and moved to 'Palestine' to marry and build a Torah home.  I was born in 1937, and in 1939, when I was two years old, my mother wanted to visit her family back in Poland.  She made all the arrangements for me to be cared for while she was away, but I was such a vilde (wild) boy that she finally decided she simply couldn't leave me, and she canceled her trip.  A few months later, Hitler invaded Poland and that was the end.  Not only single relative suvived from either of my parents' families.  My mother always told me that story and said, 'You saved my life.'
"Now let me ask you something.  If a mother today had a situation where her child needed her time and attention, would she quit her job to care of her children? Never! And if you say, 'Well, mothers today need to work, we can't survive on single incomes, and my husband's in kollel,' well, I'll say to you: It's because we're spoiled.  We want every new gadget, we want every comfort.  I ask you, is it right to have children and then send them out to be cared for by someone else? I don't have a good answer to this problem.  All I'm saying is that we need to at least recognize that this is not the derech that the Riboni shel Olam wanted.  Today's mother is harried. She's in over her head, so she can't parent properly, and we're paying the price!

1 comment:

  1. The problem is not just comforts and gadgets that the mothers go to work to provide. There are often huge expenses such as health insurance and chinuch. A man who makes $50K per year cannot afford to send 12 kids to seminary and yeshiva. Then he has to take tzedukah from the community and hope that someone in the community makes enough to give that tzedukah. Then the kids want to get married and sit and learn and eventually he gets old and needs care and one man can raise 12 kids but 12 kids can't manage one old father. Without health insurance, he can't afford to see a doctor. The kids want decent weddings and when they are Bar Mitzvahed, they need 2 sets of the best tefillin. Pesach costs a full 10th of his income every year and Tishrei is maybe 8%. He would not dream of limiting the amount of guests or economize on food for YomTov. Luckily, he qualifies for food stamps, without which, his family would be hungry. It would be nice if the wife could just stay home and be a mother but just how does he afford all that on the average American salary? Should he have fewer kids, homeschool, not invite guests, ignore illnesses, or refuse to allow their daughters to marry any man who wants kollel support? Just what should these families do?