No Child Can be Left Behind

A talmid of the Chazon Ish took upon himself to take care of three young bachurim who had recently immigrated to Eretz Yisrael. He arranged for them to enter a local yeshivah and found them chavrusos. To his chagrin, the hanhalah told him at the end of the zman that the three bachurim could no longer stay in the yeshivah.

“They have no place in the yeshivah. In middle of a zman I did not want to tell you to take them out, but now that the zman has ended I can tell you….”

The askan made his way to the Chazon Ish and told him what had transpired.

The Chazon Ish responded sharply: “Say to the [hanhalah] in my name: ‘Why did you have to send these bachurim home? You could have taken them to the middle of the sea and thrown them into the water!”

On another occasion, after a certain bachur was expelled from yeshivah, he began to slip rapidly into a spiritual abyss. Word of the case reached the Chazon Ish. When the Rosh Yeshivah who had made the decision to expel the bachur visited the Chazon Ish, the latter had a question for him.

“You pasken on dinei nefashos (you rule on matters of life and death)?”

The Rosh Yeshivah attempted to defend himself by explaining that he simply could no longer keep the bachur in the yeshivah.

“What could I have done?” the Rosh Yeshivah asked the Chazon Ish regretfully.

“Learn with him, become his chavrusa!” the Chazon Ish replied. “This is the ‘medicine’ for such an ‘ill’ bachur!”

“I personally am not capable of learning with such a bachur,” the Rosh Yeshivah argued.

“Not capable?” the Chazon Ish retorted. “Then I will learn with him. Keep him in your yeshivah and I will learn with him.”

For a long time the Chazon Ish learned with the bachur, who is today a renowned marbitz Torah and a mentor to talmidei chachamim.

*   *   *

The beginning of the Elul zman is only a week away, and in a few short weeks a new school year will begin. Now is the time for us to do all we can to ensure that unlike past years, no student in our community is without a yeshivah or a school to attend.

As the Chazon Ish declared, keeping these youngsters at home is tantamount to throwing them into the sea.

It would be unfair and inaccurate to assign blame and issue blanket generalizations.

In some situations, parents who choose to put enormous pressure on a yeshivah to accept/take back a student are refusing to recognize that this isn’t in the best interest of their child. There are times that yeshivos really have no choice but to expel a student who is having a detrimental effect on other students.

Parents must think long and hard whether their insistence on a particular mossad is based on what they want, or on what their child needs. A choice of school should never be a status symbol, and parents must not delude themselves about their child’s capabilities and commitment to his studies. Often, with a broadminded approach and some creative thinking, acceptable alternatives can be found. On countless occasions, children have thrived in schools that originally were their least-preferred choice.

Yet as the anecdotes about the Chazon Ish illustrate, when a yeshivah weighs whether to take back or accept a student, it must be cognizant of the awesome gravity of this life-impacting decision and recognize that it has a sacred obligation to every single child.

Dedicated askanim in our community are working hard, mentoring parents and negotiating with yeshivos on behalf of these children. They deserve our support and encouragement.

Moreover, we must all bear in mind that as a community and as individuals we have the grave responsibility to make every effort to ensure that no child gets thrown into the water.