Occasionally, the article I write generates a lot of conversation (which is a polite way of saying controversy). The last article I wrote regarding young Rebbeim was one such article. Although many people agreed with and enjoyed what I wrote, I received quite a few interesting emails over the past few days. Therefore, I will respond to a few of them this week, and we’ll continue the regular article next week.
Rabbi Ross. Although I usually enjoy your emails, I was a little taken aback by this last one. I am what you might call a young Rebbe. I spend hours preparing and learning from other Rebbeim, and B”H I have really been having an amazing year. I felt that in your email, you were generalizing tremendously. There are many fantastic aspects that fresh blood brings to the table. – A local Rebbe
During an average week, I have one or two boys come to me, complaining that, “Someone called me stupid”. After reassuring him that I will deal with it, I indubitably ask, “If someone called you a three-legged mongoose, would that bother you?” When he says “No,” I continue, “That’s because you’re not a three-legged mongoose. Now, since you’re not stupid either, that shouldn’t bother you as well.”
The same applies here. The article was not focused only on young Rebbeim. It was directed at Yeshivas that allow parents to run the school, parents that are overprotective, and young Rebbeim that don’t yet have (or are attempting to acquire) classroom management skills. You seem to be an excellent Rebbe and are constantly improving yourself, and therefore the last topic doesn’t really apply to you.
Regarding the “Generalizing” point, this is an email that goes out to thousands of people B”H, and is read in newspapers weekly. I am discussing the general topic of parenting and Yiddishkeit, so yes, I will be generalizing. It’s not ever intended to insult or offend anyone, Chas Veshalom.
Hi. I’ve noticed that you seem to be defending older Rebbeim. My son had a Rebbe in yeshiva that turned him off to Yiddishkeit. These Rebbeim need to go if they can’t understand children and the importance of showing love. R.L.
You brought up a number of points in this email, and I’ll try to respond to each one.
I remember your son well. First of all, it was a very different generation 20 years ago. The parents were less involved, and the administration was more supportive of the Rebbeim. I spent my summers meeting with professional Mechanchim, and my afternoons sitting in on other classes. I worked on my curriculum continuously, always looking for ways to improve the lessons in a way that would most benefit the class.
In other words, being a Rebbe or teacher is not just a static job, it’s a lifelong commitment. It requires continuous preparation, effort and the ability to adapt to each new class (and generation). Additionally, while it’s always advisable to do what you love, it is an absolutely fundamental requirement in order to be a successful Rebbe or Morah. You must be enthusiastic about your role as a Mechanech and love teaching children in order to be able to do your job.
Rabbi Ross, I’m a bit confused. I’m a parent of 3 children in various Yeshivos. Are you suggesting that I not be involved in their education? Shayna B.
Great question! I did write that “Parents call and complain that their children are not coming home happy.” The problem is threefold.
I really am trying to stay away from these questions. However, it’s surprising how many questions I received that were similar to yours. The answer to your question is long, and I won’t go into detail in this article. I will, however, share my initial thoughts.
Part of being a Rebbe, is finding the beauty in every Talmid. While there are children that can act annoying, and even those that really drive you crazy (or their parents do), you need to search for their special talent or Middah. I can assure you, the child knows he’s not loved. You need to go out of your way to give him positive attention, and make him understand that you really care. If you just can’t do it, this may sound harsh, but there are a lot of jobs out there that may be more suitable. Being a Rebbe is a privilege.
Rav Dessler says in Michtav M’Eliyahu, the root of “Ahava” – love, derives from the word “Hav”, which means to give. The more you give, the more you come to love someone. That’s why Hashem created babies to be so dependent on their parents. The more we give them, the more feelings of love are created. At first, the giving might be “forced”, but the more you go out of your way to help this particular child (calling on them, extra smiles, a pat on the shoulder, etc…), the more you can learn to, and will, love them for who they are. You can be the one that will start him on the path to success!
Wishing you all a wonderful Shabbos.
Rabbi Yitzie Ross is a Rebbe and has been working with parents and kids for many years. You can read more about him in the "about" section.