Dec 3, 2017
Classic Chinuch Still the Solution

Some say Chinuch Al Taharas Hakodesh shortchanges students. Rabbi Zalman Shneur says it's the best path to success.

By Rabbi Zalman Shneur - Menachem Education Foundation

As a community, we've been tackling tough truths about the state of Chabad Chinuch. One recurring theme often raised is that our boys and girls are not being given the tools to survive, let alone succeed, in the world beyond our Daled Amos.

However, as the thoughtful conversations increase, it starts to become apparent that perhaps the issue is quite the opposite. Perhaps we are actually denying our children a sense of what a Chabad Chinuch is supposed to give them.

What if, rather than going too far with Chinuch al Taharas Hakodesh, we haven't gone far enough?

In the early 1950s, the Rebbe urged parents not to "drown their kids in the Nile" of worldly education. "You worry that your child will be a batlan," the Rebbe empathized. "While other children become lawyers, doctors—at the very least shoe-shiners—your child won't even know how to hold a brush!"

It's a famous Sicha, recorded in Chelek Alef, Parshas Shemos, in which the Rebbe underscores the value of a pure Torah education, with no thought or concern for a later career.

Yet, Sichos like this are often written off as a message for "simpler times," or for a generation of people who planned to teach Torah, become Shluchim, or take on a trade that does not require a college education.

This is 2017, people argue, and along with the daily stream of technological progress, we face a tidal wave of job worry and housing crises that our parents never dreamed of (nor stayed awake worrying about).

What is unique about a pure Chabad Chinuch that makes it the most effective preparation for success as an adult today?

Before I offer 3 distinct ways, let me acknowledge that they are only as powerful as their transmission. Whatever we can say about these measures of success, we must find ways to make them accessible, relatable and desirable to our students.

Once we do, we will be teaching that:

1. Torah does not prepare you for the world. Torah is the world.

The core of the Rebbe's message is that a Torah education is not a means to an end. It is the end.

While the future lawyer's parents worry about their child's acceptance to law school, Lubavitcher parents teach their child that the law and the school exist to serve the will of Hashem and His Torah. Can there be a better way to prepare him for "the world" than with the unshakeable conviction that it holds no power over his destiny?

Every now and then a video surfaces of a young Lubavitcher meeting a famous athlete or musician on Mivtzoim. Have you ever noticed how relaxed, unfazed and genuinely confident these bochurim tend to be?

A child who appreciates that the world serves Torah and not the other way around, does not lack the tools to succeed. He has a completely different set of tools—Bitachon, Simcha, and an understanding of Hashgacha Pratis tools that the aspiring lawyer would trade everything to possess.

Hashem is the ultimate provider of our Parnasa not a college degree. A young person who successfully dedicated to learning Torah in his school years, has the ultimate equipment to take on any path he wishes when the time comes to earn a Parnasa.

He is fortified with a sense of wholesomeness and serenity, and is not tortured by the tension of straddling the fence between the competing values of Torah and the secular world at the same time.

2) Money can't buy happiness, Bittul can.

With the recent spotlight on substance abuse in our schools; and with a global surge of self-loathing and self-medicating young adults, students seem to be suffering from a remarkable lack of self-worth and happiness.

Everywhere you turn, people are chasing personal purpose. In the Jewish world it may be the search for "shleimus" through a completed Shas, a named building or a community award. In the broader world, it may be a fulfilling job or volunteering at an animal shelter.

Where should a Lubavitcher look for self-worth and happiness? Tanya 101, the last of the 12 Pessukim: "Yismach Yisroel Bi'osav…"—A Yid's ultimate joy is in the joy that Hashem has in His Dira Bitachtonim.

Simply put, no pursuit of self-purpose can ever deliver what a Chossid feels when submitting himself or herself completely to, and fulfilling, the will of Hashem. Can we afford to deny our children this sense of achievement and fulfillment?

3) Life is bigger than your job.

We take pride in the way "Chabad" is now a worldwide powerhouse emulated across the Jewish world. And we envy that "big picture" achievement that gets flashed across the mile-wide Kinus screens.

Instinctively we know that only a Chabad Chinuch could produce this impact. Yet, somewhere along the way, we adopted the idea that the Rebbe's vision of Chinuch was designed for a life on Shlichus.

What if we succeed in teaching our children, as the Rebbe taught us, to genuinely view life itself as a Shlichus, no matter where we might find our parnasa in the future?

What if we let ourselves feel the legitimacy of a retail store or a dental practice as an integral piece in the broader puzzle of a Dira Bitachtonim?

What if we begin focusing on how a subway conversation about Sheva Mitzvos or an offer of tefillin after a real estate deal is a massive win for the global Jewish mission?

Wouldn't we relish the passionate Chinuch that fuels "Ufaratzta" in every place, for every Chossid, every day?

Over the years, many students asked the Rebbe about leaving Yeshiva for college or business. In response, the Rebbe often requested that the student first spend one more year in Yeshiva or seminary (Igros Kodesh # 5017). Every extra minute in a "world-free" environment pays off a thousand-fold in the life that follows.

For the past ten years, the Menachem Education Foundation has been working tirelessly to give teachers and principals of today, the tools to bring the same fire and passion to Chabad Chinuch that sustained past generations.

We can—and must—continue innovating the methods of educating our students today, based on the teachings of our Rebbe. What is clear to me is that if we stand confidently behind the message, we will raise children who are holistically successful, confident and fulfilled. Children who are unfazed by the limitations of the world, as they succeed with the infinity of Torah.

Tomorrow, Menachem Education Foundation will hold a Charidy event to take the next big leap for today's students, giving them the knowledge, spirit and bitachon to grow as confident champions of Yiddishkeit.

Today: Menachem Education Foundation is holding a Charidy Campaign to take the next big leap for today's students, giving them the knowledge, spirit and bitachon to grow as confident champions of Yiddishkeit. Please donate generously

Most Read Most Comments

Opinions and Comments
Fantastic Article
Thank you Rabbi Shneur for recognizing the value of what a Lubavitch Chassidishe chinuch is!! L.Y.
(12/3/2017 3:48:46 PM)
So interesting
thanks for sharing,
(12/3/2017 3:51:27 PM)
Thank you Rabbi Shneur
For saying it how it is.
(12/3/2017 3:58:09 PM)
Brilliant line
What if we let ourselves feel the legitimacy of a retail store or a dental practice as an integral piece in the broader puzzle of a Dira Bitachtonim
(12/3/2017 4:04:12 PM)
Bare Truth
Thank you for putting things into perspective, thank you for reminding us what the true keys to success are for our children, no matter what they would like to pursue later on.
(12/3/2017 4:20:38 PM)
Such clarity
(12/3/2017 4:22:42 PM)
Rabbi Shneur hit the nail on the head!
Thank you for standing at the forefront and caring with such passion. Your work has made a huge difference in the impact our children's teachers are making. - from a grateful Midwest parent
(12/3/2017 4:37:03 PM)
Very clear
Thank you for writing such a true, real and beautiful message and for highlighting these points in such a clear article.
(12/3/2017 4:39:08 PM)
While I know all of this to be accurate, and I too believe it, how is this being manifested in our schools and societies!!?!?
(12/3/2017 4:55:17 PM)
All good points, until the 1st of the month
Lots of inspiration in this article. I had many teachers who thought and taught just like this.
It's great, until the first of the month. When my rent is due, all of the motivational speakers and Mashpiim (who cash their checks every month) are nowhere to be found.
(12/3/2017 5:06:19 PM)
Reb Zalman hit it out of the park with such piercing content!

What a clear way of showing the necessity of the paradigm shift vis a vis Chinuch Al Taharas HaKodesh!

I'll be giving to the Charidy campaign tomorrow, and I expect anyone who cares about the future Chinuch of 'unzere' to do as well.
(12/3/2017 5:19:33 PM)
Why not both?
Are you suggested that schools that don’t teach “Al Taharos Hakodesh” can’t teach the three things you suggested?
Why not do both Chol and Kodesh, and it’s a win win win
(12/3/2017 5:20:28 PM)
Missing a Point

This article is wonderful but misses an important point that when the Rebbe gave these sichos, he also set up trade schools and learning programs where those that weren't going to become Rabbanim and Shluchim would learn Kodesh half the day and a trade the other half of the day.

I don't know how many young people I've spoken to that struggle to make ends meet because they didn't go into teaching or shlichus and were ill prepared for the financial responsibilities of real adult life. My dream is a wholesome environment where yidden can learn Torah and a trade or go to College like Touro to gain degrees without all the shtus of normal colleges.
(12/3/2017 5:24:38 PM)
1000 percent true!!
Has not been such an amazing article here in a while.
This so 1000 perect true - its hard to see that big mature grown up adults dont see and realize this!
This is so true and so clear that one would be a fool to convince yourself otherwise.
I support this 100 percent and will IyH be donating tomorrow. Thank you for this eloquent article.
(12/3/2017 5:27:53 PM)
# 12
A question to ponder, what is the tachlis, the Rebbe in a yud Shevat Sicha (chelek 16 - mugah) writes that if you need to learn english, do it but only because you have to,

In simple who are we really? Torah
May that is the point
(12/3/2017 6:18:26 PM)
if chol is to be taught..
it shouldn't end up as chol. It should be used for Torah. For example, English to understand the Rebbe's letters that were written in English. Or other Torah material that is written in English.

It should not be about getting a certificate or because you think it makes someone more 'sophisticated and worldly'
(12/3/2017 6:21:14 PM)
@ # 9
What are we giving up, if we totally reform our education?

(12/3/2017 6:23:39 PM)
15 but many people have to
that is why you need a good mashpia that understands you, is able to work with you to make you successful and not just go by an op-ed on collive
(12/3/2017 6:24:04 PM)
This is a brilliant article! Beautifully written! This article has totally made feel for the cause, I want to give to this charidy campaign! Not because I am connected to anyone involved in any way but because this is everything!!! What would we not give for the chinuch of our next generation? Thank you for stepping up to the plate and ensuring a proper foundation and upbringing for our next generation!
(12/3/2017 6:24:30 PM)
Game changing document
The Menachem Education Foundation just published this document in conjunction with Merkos and the JLI research team, Machon Shmuel. This in-depth document addresses all the sensitive and important subjects touched upon in this article:

(12/3/2017 6:42:27 PM)
MEF Trailblazers
Thank you to Rabbi Shneur and the dedicated staff of MEF for going above and beyond to raise the bar in chinuch for all of our schools! You are literally saving neshamos by training teachers and principals in compassionate chinuch al taharas hakodesh. May the Aibershter bentch you with abundant success in your holy work!
(12/3/2017 6:46:57 PM)
To #13
I think you missed a point. The article is not stating that chinuch al taharas hakodesh means not learning limudei chol. It means that the only thing that's important is the limudei kodesh but by all means if you feel you want to learn a trade, go ahead. But don't do it for the sake of being assured a job or a parnassah in the future. Do it because you need to buy the ikar is torah.
(12/3/2017 7:21:59 PM)
Yes, but
The points the author makes are, in my opinion, valid, but I hope are not meant to eliminate fundamentals. A school must teach basics, and tools, and if a Chabad school, aslo what the author recommends.

Also, the headline is misleading, at least in Crown Heights. The term "Al Taharas Hakodesh" has been stapled to one school - OT - and to mean only Judaic studies and no secular studies (including not teaching ANY language). That model is what many say "shortchanges students."

So, I agree that a Chabad school should offer these points as part of what it teaches a student, and in addition to reading, writing, comprehension, vocabulary, thought organization, mathematics, halacha, yahadus, tanach, chassidus, social skills, etc.
(12/3/2017 8:08:11 PM)
Chinuch ATH Does not have to mean archaic methods. There are plenty of alternatives to the current way of teaching
(12/3/2017 8:22:39 PM)
Curious omission
Rabbi Schneur writes "we face a tidal wave of job worry and housing crises that our parents never dreamed of (nor stayed awake worrying about)."

I find this troubling because the challenge of paying for soaring tuition costs outpaces any of the challenges articulated by rabbi schneur.

Arguably, if a sincere effort were made toward resolving this issue (I.e. schools finding a way of making chinnich more - as opposed to less - affordable) these other issues wouldn't be nearly as fatal as they now threaten to become.

In the current climate the education stresses belief in hashem and His yadoi hapesucha vehorchova to the extent where they feel they don't need to chip in at all.

I will find a family who needs help with their tuition and give them a check tomorrow - during this charidy campaign. I may also give to this campaign, but I know where my priorities are.
(12/3/2017 8:32:07 PM)
Finally someone says it right!
(12/3/2017 8:35:33 PM)
You cannot live on spirituality alone
Is Rabbi Shneur offering to pick up the financial slack for all the many, many families who are struggling financially, and whose job prospects are severely limited due to subpar education?
(12/3/2017 9:02:52 PM)
To 13
Not to argue with everythi g you say, but these schools the Rebbe opened for trade etc were catered to Non Chabad students. So that was a pretty misleading one...
(12/3/2017 9:27:39 PM)
Bochurim relaxed and simchadike but
then many grow up dont have money to ask for chala on shabbos or loans via whatsapp.

I Agree with the author that the Rebbe taught the world is Torah. So why cant we have shluchim "disguised" as successful professionals? Working as lawyers, engineers, etc etc and doing their shlichus inside their office? The Rebbe always said that is a kidush Hashem to be a chosid and be in prominent professional. What about the tons of bochurim we are creating that are mamesh amei aretz and cant pay a chala for shabbes?
(12/3/2017 9:58:31 PM)
Ditto @20
Thank you comment #20 for posting about the Chinuch document! I just went through the entire document. Fascinating, amazing read. Clear, concise and authoritative. A must-read for everybody involved in Chinuch. I would encourage everyone to download a copy.
(12/3/2017 10:20:35 PM)
lovely but not grounded
beautiful, and its nice to see this sincere emunah and passion.

It does seem as though were viewing everything with rose-tinted glasses here, though; these ideas are all beautiful, but tachlis, the majority of crown heights families are struggling financially.
(12/3/2017 10:32:15 PM)
Wow, these lines are amazing:
What if we succeed in teaching our children, as the Rebbe taught us, to genuinely view life itself as a Shlichus, no matter where we might find our parnasa in the future?

What if we let ourselves feel the legitimacy of a retail store or a dental practice as an integral piece in the broader puzzle of a Dira Bitachtonim?
(12/3/2017 10:32:57 PM)
Narisher verter
"He has a completely different set of tools—Bitachon, Simcha, and an understanding of Hashgacha Pratis tools that the aspiring lawyer would trade everything to possess"

My degree is not law and I find it sanctimoniously insulting to assume that a professional is lacking in bitochon, simcha, etc. This is the heart of dira bitachtonim as was taught to me in classical chabad chinuch. To be an ehrlicher yid and a chasidesher yid with a profession - that is our tafkid! To go out into the world where your secular or gentile co-workers see the face and mehus of a chasidesher yid. Gemero brochos explains that a double praise (ashrei) is only said on the yorei shomyim with a profession. The Rebbe in many places explains that the zechus of the baal esek trumps that of kli kodesh in many instances. Feh.
(12/3/2017 11:40:02 PM)
Thank you
Thank you for thoa article for the emes
(12/3/2017 11:43:46 PM)
A lot of nice points, and all true about priorities. But I would say that being able to earn a respectable living by using the intelligence and talents given by Hashemi will ALLOW people to stay frum, Lubavitch etc. Nevermind, it's an unfortunate test to put someone in when they are struggling so much that they may be tempted to be on government programs for various things- those programs should not be for healthy, smart, capable adults.
(12/4/2017 4:43:04 AM)
To Narisher Verter: You nailed it!
You seem to be making the author's point perfectly!

Somehow, we've TURNED "al taharas Hakodesh" into an either/or chinuch: either you will go into "kodesh" and this Chinuch will serve you; or you will become a professional and you'll have to find your way somehow.

What the author seems to be promoting is that we return to the chinuch that YOU, commenter #33 received—the "classical Chabad Chinuch," that the tafkid and tachlis are not to go out into the world, but "to go out into the world here your secular or gentile co-workers see the face and mehus of a chasidesher yid."

For that, we need to double-down on infusing the Bitochon, Hashgacha protis rather than teaching fear and concern about preparing a given career.
(12/4/2017 9:00:54 AM)
Excellent article, and I have three degrees. I only went to college after I was married with children in order to survive. But the time I spend in high school, seminary, and post seminary focusing on ruchnius and shlichus, chinuch etc. set the tone for my future life. B"H, I wasn't worried about a career at that point. A person's formative years all throughout childhood into their early twenties should be about developing a solid base in Yiddishkeit and chassidishkeit.
(12/4/2017 12:40:09 PM)
To 37 - nechama
Are your degrees in teaching?

Those are very important and useful degrees!

Either way, Hatzlocho and good for you.
(12/10/2017 12:07:27 AM)
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