Dec 8, 2013

Spiritual DNA

I read a terrific chinuch idea in an article by Rabbi Hillel Belsky, printed in Hamodia's Inyan magazine. 

He described a talmid of his whose achievements in general were average but who was particularly devoted to tefilla b'tzibbur.  He never missed a minyan and the disparity between his punctiliousness with this mitzvah and other areas of his spiritual life was obvious.  "Upon investigation, I learned that his grandfather, whom he had not known, used to stand on street corners trying to collect people for a minyan in a dying neighborhood."

R' Belsky is the founder and dean of a seminary in Yerushalayim and he says he tries to enlist his students to search their family backgrounds to find the specialness of their ancestors.  "Who were they? Were they known for anything special, big or small? Any area of avodas Hashem for which they were moser nefesh? It all becomes a part of their singular and collective spiritual DNA."

The idea is "to encourage students to claim their forebears' strengths as their own."  On the subject of Shabbos, the students were asked to find out about any instances of mesirus nefesh for Shabbos on the part of their parents, grandparents and so on.  He says "the stories the girls told could have filled a book!"

"Every family has stories.  I want my students to connect to these stories."

And it's true.  A family does not have to be illustrious to have inspirational stories.  A family does not even have to be religious to have mitzva-related inspiring stories.  We need to speak to family members and glean these stories so that we have personal inspiration to draw upon.

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