I don’t think anyone would argue that there’s an issue with the Mesivta system, as was recently discussed in the op-ed titled “Your Son Isn’t Our Responsibility, Our Mosad Is.”
But what is the solution – not theoretical perfect world solutions, but solutions for the dozens of boys who have nowhere to go for next school year and are unwanted by many Mesivtas because they will require the teachers and hanhala to work a bit harder.
The suggested idea of a Yeshiva made for boys who want a mainstream system but need more patience to ensure success is a nice thought. But we have bochurim who need immediate placement and can’t wait around, waiting for a new institution to open.
I suggest a different solution, one that deals with what we already have and is not based on a future dream. This solution comes in the form of a perspective shift from the hanhala of each Mesivta. Working from the inside out.
It’s time Mesivtas stop lumping bochrim into a collective group such as “mainstream,” “can sit and learn,” or “need more flexibility.” Instead, they look at bochrim as individuals. We now know better than to assume a bochur who “can sit and learn” means that they are struggle-free. The term “top bochur” reveals nothing of what may really be going on inside.
It’s true, bochrim who have behavior or academic difficulties wear a lot of their struggles on their sleeve – but it would be naive to think these are the only ones struggling.
To clarify, this is not about the roughly 20% of boys who are not mainstream and don’t want mainstream. Their needs are clear and different and some good options exist for them.
I am talking about the other 80%, made up of all the bochurim who we now break into all sorts of categories.
Bochurim who make the cut as “mainstream and can sit and learn” are often struggling too; it can be emotion, depression, OCD behavior, addictive behavior etc. They are failing too, because the system is designed to look at bochurim by their academic and sitting abilities only. That leads to just about everyone falling through the cracks.
It doesn’t take professionals or degrees or fancy initials to help most boys. Rather, it can take one person believing in each of them. Every single bochur (every single human!) needs this. And every Yeshiva can and should provide this.
It’s time we did away with the word mainstream; it’s naive to believe that bochurim are that simple.
The boy who was on top of his class all through Mesivta and now is not frum because his (unnoticed) inner struggle of pressure to keep up was never noticed – is that “mainstream”?
The boy who was applauded for his incredible kavana in davening and learning and is now being treated for OCD and depression – yes, he was also “mainstream.”
Had these bochurim been looked at as individuals rather than being lumped into the good bochurim category, maybe their struggles would have been noticed. Maybe they would have struggled less and been helped earlier? Maybe they would still be frum and in the “system” today?
The solution lies in the hands of hanhala of Mesivtas – not the Mesivtas that weren’t established yet, but the ones that exist.
The perspective shift is within:
Build your Yeshivas with boys who care about yiddishkeit, and focus on their personal growth by ensuring each one has at least one person in the hanhala/talmidim-shluchim hierarchy dedicated to believing in them. Look at applicants and see who they really are, build classes with a healthy balance of different types of students, and then create an atmosphere where they can all thrive. Perhaps it’s called inclusion or plain old Ahavas Yisroel.
Whatever the case, stop looking to fit bochurim into categories – start looking at each one as an individual.
Talmidim-Shluchim can be a great asset to make this happen. The main requirement is to truly care. With hanhala’s careful oversight and minimal training, every Shliach can be assigned a few bochrim that they purposefully create a deeper connection with. A place where every bochur can be open and honest, without judgment, and get support through their struggles.
Every bochur, regardless of weakness or strength, will have who to confide in and a support system. Not every struggle needs professional help; when it’s neglected, that’s usually where it ends up.
And the talmidim-shluchim can work with bochrim individually; a bochur who can’t sit through a lengthy general shiur can learn one on one with a shliach. Bochurim with more energy can channel it to leadership roles in mivtzoim.
Bochurim with emotional struggles won’t have to hide behind their learning out of fear of being discovered and therefore not making the cut in their “top bochur” Mesivta.
Categorizing bochurim by who is, for example, better behaved (i.e. easier for a teacher to teach) is hurting everyone, those who make the cut and those who don’t.
Everyone will agree that there are too many bochrim leaving the Yeshiva system and frum life – we need to take an honest look and answer the question; are they falling through the cracks or are they being pushed out. By our own Yeshivas. By our own system.
It’s easy to understand that a bochur who has challenges in behavior or academics requires more energy than cookie-cutter children.
But do we believe or do we not believe that Hashem created each of our children perfect, exactly how they are supposed to be? There are no glitches in the system; Hashem chose which challenges each child will have. And each one deserves our utmost love and patience. The letter from the father of a dyslexic bochur is heartbreaking; how did we come to this, to be focused on the mosad instead of the survival of a bochur?
Understandably, no Yeshiva can accept everyone. And yes, there’s a need for more Mesivtas. But if a bochur is no longer turned away just because more patience and personal guidance is needed to help learn or sit for longer periods, then we’ve already made huge strides to fix the broken link.
These types of kids aren’t going away; digging our heads in the sand and Mesivtas proclaiming they are for” serious learners, top bochrim” is only making the problem worse for everyone.
We are lucky to know better, so now let’s do better. Saving even one bochur is saving a whole world.
A mother who is hopeful for change
Only taxi drivers and barbers are the ones that know how to solve every problem.
Ask them and they will provide the solution to this problem and all other problems like achieving world peace etc.
Who go on their own path in life (OTD) because they experienced up front from “rabbis or rebbetzins” who are suppose to be role models in our community and people to look upto – did all that they can to act contrary to what Hashems Torah and our Rebbe ask of us. Not only that when they tried to say “you are incorrect “, they were faced with emtional abuse of “you are not chabad”, you are worthless, and have a mafia backup to finish that teen, to show him who’s boss. Ummm… yeah forget about they are referred as… Read more »
Are we just gonna ignore half of our population; the women?!?!?? Girls go through this issue too and for some it is never discussed. Honestly embarrassing
one step at a time, we’re not tryna save the entire world.
besides, id gander that its worse for the bochurim than for the girls.
coming from a mainstream crown heights high school, I can certainly say that there is a tremendous amount of girls struggling and you cant tell right away at all. But once you realize how common the struggles are, you are overwhelmed. I am constantly hearing about all the work and attention that is been given to boys schools and frustrates me greatly that we girls are not being seen as a importance/urgency at all.
I only would want to marry a learning boy
How many families have not dealt with a broken child who felt the sting of rejection again and again?
And it’s getting worse, not better.
I’m sorry but all the justifications are getting tired.
Either we have a system for ALL of OUR boys ( similar to other chasidus communities ) or we have a elitist system ( similar to Lakewood)
Please, let’s stop pretending that we are all one family when we are clearly not when it comes to Mesivtas.
And here comes the excuses….
What is stopping you from opening a Mesivta? In your Mesivta ALL boys will be welcome. Have courage and actually do something about the problem. BTW according to many comments you will also get rich from the process, like all the other Mesivtas who are making so much money. So it will be a win win situation, your financial situation will be improved and Lubavitch will finally have a Mesivta that views us as one family. If you ask me why I don’t open a Mesivta? The answer is very simple, I was born in America a Malchus shel Chesed,… Read more »
The actual issue is that there are far more children than there are spaces in yeshivas, mesivtas and seminaries. The frum community produces a huge volume of children, every year, nonstop. There are so many children and teenagers, of course there is not enough room for them all!! There is simply just not enough space in yeshivas, mesivtas and seminaries to accommodate the massive volume of children. Please stop over-blaming the poor school administrators, we need to instead start having some adult conversations about this.
what do you think the rebbe prefers?
the rebbe encourages more and more yidishe kinderlach
so if one considers himself a moisad of the rebbe they should take in to consideration the growth of the community b’h .
welcome the growing community with love and happiness.
if you have a store and your getting more customers
would you close your door?
would you expand?
what woul the rebbe say?
Thank you. May I just add that the words “if you don’t……. you can leave” should never be said by a staff member. Leaving Yeshiva is not an option, words matter.
There is no such a thing as a bad student, there are bad teachers. If you do not care for your students please do not try to teach.
If you do not care for your students please do not try to teach.
We need to create a curriculum from age zero, where kids can shine through, and where they can have mental suport and be treated as individuals, its never late but too late to strat from Yeshivah. Pressure is coming from the house- tuition, stress from parenting and kids see and observe it. We need to be positive as a family and as community first of all
I am confused. Why do we blame all the problems we have on the people in chinuch. They are the ones that care and invest every part of themselves into giving yiddishe chassidishe chinuch to all of our children. Instead of blaming them for our disappointments, and giving them all these great VERY impractical ideas that are easy to say but IMPOSSIBLE to implement. Why don’t we give a genuine thank you to all those people that are insanely invested into the rebbes inyanim and to all our children. And instead of writing opeds about the problems with the system… Read more »
They’re not directed to the teachers, this is about the system itself and the hanhala
The world must be turned upside down when the Chassidim are resembling the Misnagdim more every day. Did the Baal Shem Tov care about yichus or money? The Rebbe tells us to send all our boys to a ChaBaD institution over any other Jewish institutions even if the learning is lacking in comparison, not just the rich, the brightest, or the well known.
Did this mother even visit any Yeshiva ever? Every single Yeshiva is a place of simply learning Torah the whole day. If she wants her son to be accepted by the hanalah, he needs to be able to sit down and learn a blat Gemara. If he can’t, he is a fine boy, but you will need to open up a,”Yeshivas Beis Chabad” for him. He doesn’t fit into tomchei temimim!
WHAT YOUR SAYING WAS MABE VALID 50 YEARS AGO
Last I checked, the name of these institutions is still “Yeshivos” meaning places which have people sitting and learning Torah.
If you actually look at the original tomchei temimim you’d see not all of them were perfect Bochurim.
But there was a commen denominator: they all had potential and wanted to better themselves.
And as someone in Yeshiva, and has been to many Yeshiva, and has obviously many friends in other Yeshiva, I can tell you that at least 75% of the Bochurim do not use out all their time for learning.
Stop asserting things that you have no way to prove. How did you “look at the buchurim in the original tomchei temimim” and be able to dispute the commenter that claimed (rightly) that in order to be able to learn there you must be able to sit and learn a blat Gemara. To the contrary, there is written evidence (in kuntres eitz chaim by the Rebbe rashab, who is truly a trustworthy source) that they learned Gemara for multiple hours continuously, without any breaks.
That one of the major problems before chassidus was nisgaleh was the same thing, that only the good bachurim & lamdanim were accepted into the yeshivos.
All of the rest of the simple people were forced to stay am ha’aratzim & simple peddlers.
Then the Ba’al Shem Tov came around with chassidus & switched it, showing the precious beauty of every yid & how nobody is a good-for-nothing.
It follows, that part of it is to not only accept the certain ‘category’ of bachurim which the hanhalah appreciates, but to accept every chelek eloka’ah mima’al mamash..
Well written and thoughtful article but incredibly naive. I had a very similar view as the author years ago before the naivety came crashing down and I now see things very differently. Without going into my harsh personal experiences, is the author aware of how many middle age Lubavitchers struggle deeply and are doing their best to work through issues? How many sholom bayis problems there are? Addiction problems? All kinds of issues that a caring person in mesivta could not have possibly resolved without the tools to even identify what is really going on? Issues that if they were… Read more »
I heard him say to take each child where and and they are!
(….. ,*where and how they are)
Wow. On target 🎯
Such a geuladig approach!
This is the torah chadosha of moshiach!
“The letter from the father of a dyslexic bochur is heartbreaking; how did we come to this, to be focused on the mosad instead of the survival of a bochur?” The DOR HAFLOGOH focused on The needs of the “Moisad” Their moto was “V’NAASEH LANU SHEIM” “WE WILL MAKE NAME FOR OURSELF” We will make sure to build a REPUTATION FOR OURSELF ___________________________ THE HOLY BAAL SHEM TOV TAUGHT US THAT THE WHOLE PURPOSE OF A NESHAMAH COMING DOWN TO THIS WORLD FOR 70 – 80 YEARS IS FOR THE PURPOSE OF DOING A FAVOR FOR ANOTHER YID. So a… Read more »
Your solution is not a real solution, all it does is change the problem, as you redefine what to call mainstream, without calling it mainstream.
Either way, you yourself acknowledge that not every Moisad can be everything to everyone.
Ty for writing this
Beautifully said. I hope this talks straight to the hearts of those who run the yeshivas.
Some children need medication to help them focus or to deal with severe anxieties, etc. Parents need to be open as well to help their child to be at their prime for reaching their potentials. The mechanech cannot be effective for the child that has such a severe disorder. I heard from a professional about a family whose child had severe ADHD. They refused to medicate and the child spent many years in special education. When they eventually medicated their child so he was ready and able to learn and they realized how many years had been “wasted.” May we… Read more »
So true and real.
Wish that members of the Hanahalas read this article before Krias Shma Sheal Hamito
I challenge every one of you that are sitting back and giving solutions to roll up ur sleeves and go work in chinuch. You will see very quickly the real world of chinuch, how they work so hard every day and how out of place all the backlash is It’s one of the most challenging jobs and there’s a reason not many of you are working in that field, and why it’s so hard to build up a good, full staff. I have sent my son who had some challenges to one of the biggest moisdim and I met many… Read more »
True, there may be a few moisdos which actually care, however, that is not at all the majority of moisdos.
I’m an alumni from a school where the Hanhalah truly cared for every student. They gave each student a personal mentor hoping the students would have someone to be open with. However most of the students
Closed up to their mentors and resented the Hanhalah who truly cared. Why you may ask? Because as much as Hanhalah cared they lived by this cookie cutter allusion. No one wanted to fall out of the elitist club. The results is a bunch of “top girls” in my class not frum any more struggling with deeply emotional challenges.
Agree with the Vort.
But what’s the problem with OCD?
As a teacher of Mesivta who just finished the Zman it’s hard to express how demoralizing an op-ed like this is. My fellow Mechanchim and I have worked non-stop from the short Chanukah break. Literally 24/7 (out of town Mesivta) spending hours upon hours, late nights and early mornings, taking care of your children. טייערע Bochurim that were entrusted to us by their loving parents. We spent HOURS teaching, Shmoozing, mentoring and Farbrenging with your children. And YES dealing with their OCD’s, depressions and dealing with all their beautiful and sensitive Neshomos and YES with ALL the baggage they brought… Read more »
If you are a caring teacher then obviously this article doesn’t refer to you.
If you said something insensitive to a student did you later go and speak to him and apologize.
We are not expecting malachim but menchlichkeit IS expected.
Of course I would apologize. What’s the question. These articles paint broad brushes across the system. Top qualified talent don’t want to touch Chinuch in Chabad by a 10 foot poll, they say that it’s an underpaid and thankless job. Articles like these don’t help.
teachers need support, and many are not getting it, as seen in this post.
Yeshivas and Mesivtas provide Chinuch and a framework for academic achievement together with Chassidisher Hashkafa. Part of that Chassidosher Hashkafa is the Teiyerkeit of every Bochur and Ahavas Yisroel with no judgement. While it would be beautiful for Hanhala to “look out” for issues in their Bochurim, they are not therapists, neither claim to be one. The major shift that needs to happen here is that us PARENTS need to see it as our responsibility to educate our children (yes, we pay a school to teach them during the day) but the education is primarily our responsibility, and the same… Read more »
I believe the original author referred to his son who has dyslexia. There is no medication for dyslexia.
Also, regarding being disheartened, I am sure there are many educators who care and attend to their students accordingly. I think the issue is about the negative side of the situation, which is that there are uncaring and ignorant educators who can do harm. And this is unacceptable!
That’s why JETS AND WILKS exist
Hanhalah ruchanis NEEDS to learn from the hanhalah gashmiis. How many times already happened (and it did) that a struggling parent get an email saying “better pay all what we are charging you [mind you, often much more, way much more than a local so can pay for the rest of school system, mesivta and school etc]or we kick your kid out”. Imagine an hanolah ruchniis working this way? How much will be accomplished? But its very easy to dismiss ruchanis work “this is how we work/ dont tell us what to do/ your son is a failure and its… Read more »