On Miseducation

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TorahVodaathNo Torah. No Daas. Just Acceptance of Abuse

There are many times when a Rebbe’s derech of chinuch is difficult on a child. After all, wouldn’t most boys prefer to spend time on their own terms rather than having to sit, write and learn for what is often more than a 9 hour day?

As parents, we trust the mechanchim to find the proper balance betweenn childhood and education, to teach our sons to enjoy learning and to find satisfaction in ameilus batorah.

Most of the time, the yeshiva hadracha is dynamic and effective, this time – it wasn’t.

It began slowly. One day the rebbe made a joke about him – and everyone laughed. The next week, they all found it funny when the gemarra explanation revolved around his mistakes.

Each day, bit by bit, the rebbe eased him into the role of the scapegoat. When everyone was noisy, it was him that was punished, when something fell and broke, it must have been his fault. Of course he can’t lead the line or be captain – who could ever trust a shlemiel to do anything right?

Then, one day, it was time for the rebbe to focus on bigger things. His shmoneh esray was completely ineffective – he was mumbling the words much too fast for Hashem to hear. The child must be taught to daven correctly, to pray clearly and slowly, pronouncing the words.

The man took out a timer, stood next to the boy and told him he could not have finished in that sliver of time. The boy protested, a bet was made, and he was sent to the principal to be timed again. The principal was busy and the boy was directed to be timed by a student – a boy who was gentle and caring and kind.

The rebbe couldn’t believe that the boy had succeeded, so together they walked through the halls and he was timed by more talmidim, again and again.

Each day onward the rebbe was watchful and the boy had to daven right next to the front desk. He could never seem to do it right, one time he was dared not to finish until his master was done. His pages were turned, his siddur was shut, and there was the timer, again and again.

Each time he failed he was sent to the office and the principal told him sternly that his rebbe was right.

His mother called the rebbe, for she was confused with the story and she wanted to help.

The man was blunt and direct. Each year, he told them, he picks out one child to teach an example, and the game does not stop until the boy says that the rebbe is right. And certainly, the boy learned his chutzpah at home – with a mother such as she was.

The mother tried again – this time with the administration. A meeting was held and she was told she was lying for such a wonderful teacher could never be controlling and mean.

The boy cried each day in the morning as he went off to school to be hurt once more.

A new plan was formed between rebbe and principal – if the boy would not listen he must spend his davening time in a lower class.

It was enough. The boy, emotionally abused, humiliated and tortured for so many days, exploded with uncontrollable rage towards the rebbe. He said and did things that he would later regret but the damage was done and he was sent home.

This time, the administration was more helpful. The offered to concoct a false report card with better grades, to lie and deceive to enable him to get accepted at a new yeshiva.

The boy felt abandoned and hopeless, as he had begged his mechanchim to stop all this madness, but no one had listened and now HE was to blame.

He sits at home now, refusing to daven and hating school with a passion, hurt by the system he tried so hard please. It is quite likely that he will never again attend a yeshiva.

Oh. And did I mention? My son is just ten.