By a Chabad mother
I watched the video clip from the farbrengen with the Mashpia Rabbi Nachman Yosef Twersky which was posted on COLlive.com. It compelled me to write to you about my experience, and I know the same happened to some of my fellow parents.
Each one of us has tried our best to raise our young sons by giving them a warm Yiddishe and Chassidishe home, the best possible chinuch and worked hard to pay tuition. What was beyond our control however, was how ‘book smart’ our sons actually are.
When my husband and I heard time and time again at parent/teacher meetings that our son is “sweet,” I understood that there wasn’t much more to say about him. Sweet, yes; smart… not really.
Our son made it to 8th grade struggling year after year. Now, how was he going to pass his entrance exam into Mesivta? And once he would be accepted, how could it be a positive and successful experience for him? My husband works long hours and doesn’t have much time to learn Gemarah with his son.
Baruch Hashem, it worked out for my son. He connected with Rabbi Yehuda Kovacs from ProjectMesivta.com who really prepped him well and gave him the tools to succeed. All’s well that ends well; he was accepted to a pretty good Mesivta.
A number of my friends, however, were not so lucky. I know of at least 3 boys who were nice, well-behaved bochurim, yet, they could not get accepted to any of the “top tier” Mesivtas because they just weren’t up to speed with the learning.
The parents were devastated, tearing their hair out and trying to find one decent yeshiva – just one -that would give their son a chance. But there was no on to talk to. Applications and phone calls went unanswered… however the application fees were charged.
A few boys had to settle, attending Yeshivas that are definitely not on the level of the Chasidishkeit that they were on, because that was all they could get into.
After hearing numerous complaints about this, I teamed up with a friend and we did some research. We called a whole lot of Mesivtas and middle schools and spoke to Menahalim. Many of them agreed that the issue lies in the following:
A boy can ‘fall through the cracks’ and be moved up through the grades year after year in Elementary School. And then comes Mesivta. The style of learning in Mesivta is very different. All of a sudden a Bochur is expected to have some basic Gemarah skills of his own. We were told that this can be challenging even for an excellent Bochur, who did well throughout his years in Elementary school.
When asked why they don’t do more to avoid this problem, one middle school principal explained to me that there aren’t enough hours in the day, and therefore, their curriculum is not geared to preparing boys for Mesivta.
For those parents who haven’t yet had Mesivta age sons: If your son is a weaker student, begin preparing him now. Building up his confidence and skills takes time. Enabling him to excel at the conclusion of middle school will serve as a solid stepping stone to a successful and enjoyable Mesivta experience.
I hope that our findings are helpful to others and wish everyone much Hatzlacha in making your sons Mesivta experience a positive one.