By Dovid Zaklikowski for COLlive and Hasidic Archives
In the early 1970s, Hadassah Magazine, the bi-monthly publication of the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization, asked The New York Times columnist Ari Goldman to write about the role that fathers play in modern-day parenting.
As part of his research, Goldman called Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, a longtime aide to the Rebbe and the public relations director at Chabad World Headquarters, to ask what Chabad’s approach to the subject might be.
Rabbi Krinsky told him that the Rebbe had compiled the Hayom Yom – a calendar of sayings and lessons drawn from Chabad teachings, which included the maxim of the fifth Chabad Rebbe Rashab, Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneersohn, that a parent should spend at least half an hour every day thinking about the education of his children:
“Rabbi Sholom Dovber once declared at a Hasidic gathering in 1904: ‘Just as putting on tefillin every day is a biblical commandment incumbent on every Jew, regardless of whether they are a great Torah scholar or a simple person, so too, it is an absolute obligation for every Jew to dedicate half an hour every day to contemplating their children’s education, and to do everything in their power, and indeed, more than what is in their power, to see to it that they follow the path in which they are being guided.'”
The journalist was impressed, though he apparently misunderstood the quotation. He assumed that it represented a recent change in the Hasidic approach to these matters.
Goldman wrote the following: “Even in Hasidic homes, where the letter of Jewish law is strictly adhered to, there is a growing tendency for men to be involved with their children. In a popular calendar put out by the Lubavitcher Hasidim, there is the following quotation from the grand rabbi, Menachem M. Schneerson: ‘Just as it is a mitzva to put on tefillin every day, it is a mitzva for the father to be involved with the children every day.'”
The saying, however, was over seven decades old, and the Hayom Yom itself had been published in the 1940s.
Rabbi Krinsky brought the published article to the Rebbe. Obviously disturbed by the implication that Judaism regards women as second-class citizens, the Rebbe took out a volume of Jewish law, based on the Talmud taught thousands of years earlier.
The Rebbe then turned to the laws of deceit, and told the aide that it was important that Jewish women know that Judaism holds them in high esteem: “A man should always be careful with respecting his wife, for the blessing in the home is only for his wife. This is what the sages told to their generation (Talmud, Baba Mezia 59a): To become wealthy, respect your wives.”