Volume 41 Number 33
                 Produced: Tue Dec  2 22:29:03 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Are we obligated to reproach the ill mannered?
         [Kibi Hofmann]
Children at Risk
         [Binyomin Segal]
Good Manners (2)
         [Yakov Spil, <Smwise3@...>]
Reproving the Rude
         [Bill Bernstein]


From: Kibi Hofmann <kibi@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Dec 2003 14:04:07 +0200
Subject: Are we obligated to reproach the ill mannered?

In Vol. 41 #31 Carl Singer wrote:

>I got a private email as follows in response to my earlier posting:
> >      Regarding rude yeshiva students, you wrote >> I've thought at times
> > of asking a rude bocher what yeshiva they went to -- but why prolong the
> > encounter.<<
> >
> >   I think you have a Torah obligation to do it, because the
> > Torah says "You shall surely reprove him".

>I'm intrigued -- from an halachic viewpoint -- is this an "it takes a
>village" -- that is we are ALL responsible for this person's hinuch.  Or
>does this fall (only) onto his parents or teachers.

I can't imagine that the mitzva of "hochei'ach tochi'ach" ["you shall
surely reprove him"] is limited to parents and teachers - it comes
immediately after the mitzva "lo sisna es ochicho bil'evovecho" ["do not
hate your brother in your heart"] Vayikra [Leviticus] 19:17. The
implication being, if someone has done something you dislike - it is
better to tell him off than to continue to hate him in your heart.

>Part B -- At what age (or stage) is my "yeshiva bucher" an adult re:
>hinuch -- Bar Mitzvah -- Marriage?  What of an adult?

Chinuch [education] is another question - I never heard that the mitzva
stopped at any age, just that it didn't start below age x. Anyway,
Chinuch truly may be more of an obligation on the parent/teacher. *This*
is a mitzva to rebuke "wrongdoers". I'd say relevant questions are:

1. When is one obliged to rebuke someone for bad manners? (How much trouble 
do you need to take?)
2. Are we worried about putting a stumbling block in front of the blind? 
(They might end up being even ruder when you rebuke them)
3. When children are ill-mannered, is one obliged to rebuke their parents 
for how badly they are fulfilling the mitzva of chinuch? (maybe I shouldn't 
say this, but I really really want to do that rebuking sometimes...)

Yes, he's back. 


From: Binyomin Segal <bsegal@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 14:17:46 -0600
Subject: Re: Children at Risk

Eugene Bazarov asked some important questions about "children at risk"
in the religious community. I have been working in this field for some
time and feel I have some expertise with which to address his
questions. I regret the time it has taken me to respond. Essentially
Eugene wonders to what degree this is a new phenomena, and to what
degree this has always been the case.

At some level, Eugene is correct. The naive assumption that everything
was fine, and then suddenly there was a problem is incorrect. In fact,
the very assumption that a frum family should be able to raise all their
children as frum is not nearly so obvious. Yaakov is distinguished from
his father and grandfather by the fact that "mitaso shlaima" (lit. his
bed was complete - all his children were "frum").  Both Avraham and
Yitzchak were unable to insure the religious devotion of their progeny -
at some level it seems presumptuous of us to try.  Certainly in every
society where Jews lived, and had an opportunity to assimilate, some
chose to.

Nonetheless, the community has to do whatever it can to help those that
made poor choices. This is expressed most clearly in the Talmud where it
describes the destruction of Jerusalem and the failure of the leaders to
try and improve others even when their attempts were doomed to
failure. Since they did not know the attempts were doomed they had an
obligation to try. And so the first reason we need to deal with children
at risk is:

Because we can.

That is to say that just because this problem has existed in the past,
doesn't mean we should ignore it now. Avraham and Yitzchok were both
forced to give up on their respective child in order to insure the
continuity of klal yisroel. We need not make that choice, we are not
individuals, but a community - and from a historical perspective, a very
wealthy one. Certainly some people should continue to work in
traditional chinuch, but there should still be resources available to
help these youngsters find their way back.

Yet, if this was simply normal stuff that we were beginning to respond
to, it would be an accomplishment not a crisis. Eugene's question
wonders if this is really a crisis and what distinguishes it from the
past. I do believe that this is a crisis. And so, the second reason we
should be concerned is:

Because it is different.

In describing how it is different, I am going out on a limb. Certainly I
am not the only one who thinks this situation is different. But I have
no serious statistical studies to back up my anecdotal observations and
those of my colleagues. And though I have done some serious readings, I
know my perceptions of the past are not crystal clear. Further, it is
very hard to put down on paper all the various observations and trends
we in the field believe we are responding to, and while these things are
true in general, they are not true in every case. I will give here a few
observations but this is not meant to be a scholarly or complete
treatment of the issue - simply a starting point.

a. It is a matter of life and death
"Children at risk" are not simply choosing to not be frum, they are 
choosing self destructive behaviors that threaten their lives - 
multiple partner/unprotected sexual contact, substance abuse, etc.

b. It is pathology not choice
It seems clear that many of these children are not making a choice but 
rather suffer from an illness/pathology - addiction.

c. It is our fault/we have much to learn from them 
It seems clear that part of this crisis is a result of the quickening
pace of change in secular society and the fact that our institutions are
not prepared to deal with that. We do not adequately prepare our
children for an ever changing world because we don't know how. Just to
give one example: historically, a young boy was expected to deal with
his sexual desires by avoiding temptation. And a boy who was not looking
for trouble could, to a great degree avoid things that might arouse
temptation. That is however not the case today. Styles of dress,
standards of propriety in advertisements, etc have changed to such a
degree that a seventeen year old boy will be confronted with images that
arouse him. How should he deal with that? If we can articulate what he
should do, do we know how to teach it to him? Are we? I don't know if it
is entirely fair to blame us for our failure, but I do know that we need
to learn from these children so we can do better on the next generation.

d. They are not really leaving
Many of these children do not see themselves as leaving. Even while 
they violate shabbos or eat treif, they still consider themselves part 
of the frum community.

e. It is contagious
Many of the issues we see with children at risk are present in the
population at large as well. Many of our children see Judaism as a
burden Hashem placed on us, not a gift. (Rabbi Orlafsky discusses a tour
he took of the US where he asked many religious kids why they are Jewish
or if they want to be Jewish - his results are scary if still anecdotal)
This may have been true in the past as well, but the changing nature of
our society (see c above) makes it more dangerous.  Kids are presented
with alternatives in very powerful ways. And if/when a friend makes the
choice to abandon mitzvot for fun and addiction, it is not hard for
him/her to attract a group of followers.

f. It is the holocaust
Many of the weaknesses in our family and social structures still come
from the losses we suffered in the holocaust. Parental role models,
extended family, etc have all been compromised. And while this does not
distinguish this tragedy from the losses in the 60s, it does suggest
that this is not a normal condition, but one that happens at the all too
often upheavals we suffer in galus.

Again, this is not a complete discussion of the issue. But I think it is
a good introduction to the main components of the issue. I hope this was



From: Yakov Spil <yspil@...>
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2003 21:43:24 -0500
Subject: Good Manners

How sad such a posting has such a title.  This man can just lash out in
such a spiteful way to those who are moser nefesh to learn Torah. I
cannot reproduce it because it is too hurtful. Refer to Volume 41 #29.

But I did look in Shaarei Teshuva and in Shaar Gimel #147 and onward- he
writes at length about the severity of speaking against Talmidei
chachomim and those who are in Yeshiva.  It was certainly eye opening to
me the space to which the author devotes to this aveira, Hashem
yirachem.  And this may very well answer his accusation that bochurim
are placed on pedestals.  I certainly agree that one should not look for
self aggrandizement for his learning or any other pursuit.  But the
Torah says one who is osek in Limud Hatorah is SPECIAL. Now what those
people do with that gift they have, is each person's nisayon- challenge.
But to paint with such a wide brush as this person has done- it is
indeed sad and painful and hardly fair to the hundreds and hundreds of
bochurim and yungerleit who are doing it the way it has been done for

But it reflects even worse on this listing that such a letter filled
with sinas chinam D'ORAISA could be allowed to see the light of day.  We
must be so insensitive that we can no longer cry over such blatant
hatred otherwise it never would have made it on to Mail Jewish.

Does it really make sense to answer this person's mistaken and
prejudiced claims? I think not. Because of his ONE story I can recount
for him, not ONE story but countless ones that show the positive
influence of Torah on a person that can only be described as the Koach
HaTorah. The changes that come in a person who is learning Torah and
Musar cannot be duplicated in any field.  I can recount for him the good
nature of kollel yungerleit who only learn and aspire to learn lishma.
Their wives are moser nefesh for this cause and the children grow up in
a rarified environment of kedusha, not one of sina and cynicism.

This person should ask if he really cares to see the Beis Hamikdash.  If
not, he may keep right on thinking as he does.  For the rest of us, how
many tears will be shed over such words?  Regardless, those who are
learning will keep on because that is what the Torah and our Gedolim
want from us.


Yakov Spil

From: <Smwise3@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 12:11:15 EST
Subject: Re: Good Manners

I think you are overreacting to my post.  Blatant sinas chinom?  hatred?
Based on what have you made such accusations.  It is ironic you sign
your post "B'ydidus" because from the tone and content, it appears you
are lacking in that as well.

Notwithstanding what Shaarei Teshuva has written, as Yidden we are ALL
special.  We who make a living and find time to learn have at least as
much mesiras nefesh than those who are fully supported by others so that
they can learn without the pressures of life most of us experience.
Unfortunately, my experience--and I would imagine others on this list
can confirm--that those who sit and learn do not appreciate what the
rest of us do in order to learn.

Furthermore, it is at least as great kiddush Hashem when we as Yidden
can go into the world and still live according to the Torah, and
demonstrate how the Torah influences our lives so that we can treat all
people--Yidden and otherwise--with respect, kindness and friendship.

I do not recall on which parasha this was stated, but in the sefer Torah
L'Daas, the perush said that we do not know who is honored most by
Hashem--that those who are honored in this world are not so honored in
shamayim and vice versa.  No one should pretend he or she understands
who is truly honored.  I have likewise instructed my children to respect
all yidden--not just the one's like themselves--just because they choose
to serve and honor Hashem in ways different from ours.  Again, we cannot
assume how Hashem judges us.  A person who keeps few mitzvos but has
great middah of chesed may be viewed higher than someone who sits and
learns but does nothing for his fellow man.  We really don't know.

The main point of my post was in response to other posts on behavior and
manners of yeshiva bochurim.  It is sad that it should even be an
issue--but even sadder that such issues don't appear to be addressed by
these boys parents or rebbeim, or else they choose to ignore them.  It
is sad to hear a frum woman trying to get and I quote "the best deal for
my son" when looking for a shidduch or when a yeshiva bochur has to know
a girl's dress size before considering the person.

You seem so sure that my comments are inhibiting the return of the bais
Ha-mikdash.  What a curious assessment. I advise you to look at the rest
of the world around you.



From: Bill Bernstein <bbernst@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 08:40:07 -0600
Subject: Re:Reproving the Rude

My faulty recollection on the topic of tochacha (rebuke) is that there
is a mitzva to rebuke only when one feels the rebuke will be heeded.
But if not then there is a mitzva to be quiet about it.  I believe the
verse continues "v'lo sisa alav es hacheit," which is taken to mean that
not only will the warning go unheeded but you might cause the person to
hate you as well.

I remember my rav once telling me that at a park he watched while some
obviously religious kid was doing something dishonest.  He went up to
him and asked, "does your rebbe know you do this?"  I personally think
thats a great tactic.  

Kol tuv, 
Bill Bernstein 
Nashville TN


End of Volume 41 Issue 33