Jun 18, 2017

Derech=Torah and Mitzvos

Binah magazine has been running a column since Pesach called "On Their Derech." Rather than the usual meaning of OTD"off the derech," the author uses the abbreviation to mean "on their derech." In this column the author writes about what her life is like with her several off the derech children.

I spoke up early on, telling the managing editor that chilul Shabbos and treif are not a derech. To say that those who are off the derech, i.e. not observant of mitzvos, are "on their derech," is unacceptable. She agreed, but the column with that title continues. I was later told that the "content director" likes it.

Another problem with the column is that in the first article, the author says she wants to do away with the shame involved in having children who left Yiddishkeit. In a later article, she writes that parents should have neither nachas nor shame when it comes to their children's behavior. She says that parents can and should do their utmost to raise their children to Torah and mitzvos, but children have bechira and ultimately, their choices do not reflect on the parents.

I've heard that sentiment before and it's understandable why parents would want to think this way, but there are numerous Torah examples to show that this isn't true, because children's choices do reflect on their parents.

Jun 10, 2017

Purity is not Focus

I started reading the book based on Rabbi Noach Weinberg's famous 48 Ways classes and stopped when I got annoyed with the "purity" chapter.

Rabbi Weinberg developed a curriculum on the mishna in Pirkei Avos which lists the 48 ways needed to acquire Torah. But, as I agree with Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky, the mishna refers exclusively to acquiring Torah, while R' Weinberg uses it as way to wisdom and success in life in general. So his class on tahara is used to discuss focus,which is definitely not what tahara is about! He lost me there ...

Jun 9, 2017

What Sort of Virtues?

Slovie Wolff wonders whether parents these days are producing kids with "resume virtues" instead of giving them "eulogy virtues."

By that she means, many parents seek to provide their children with numerous extra-curricular activities (music, sports, art, martial arts) to broaden their experiences, develop their talents, and ultimately, look good good on their college resumes. But none of those activities are important, in and of themselves.

Rather, parents should be cultivating children who are idealistic, who want to make a positive difference in the world, who see a need and rise to the occasion and fill it.

She was addressing a general Jewish readership on Aish.com. The same applies to those who are religiously observant. Resume virtues for shidduchim include which great schools the boy/girl attended, which camps, and for girls - if they were the heads of anything in school or had prestigious jobs in camp.

Eulogy virtues would include middos tovos, erlichkeit, ahavas Yisrael.

I sometimes read tributes-obituaries in the Jewish paper and am amazed by the wonderful people we had among us, with eulogy virtues that include things like devotion to family, devotion to G-d, and kindness for fellow Jews.