“I said no, and that’s it!” Dad said. “I don’t want to hear any more about it.”
“But everyone is going!” the upset boy retorted. “You never let me do anything!”
Raising children becomes more challenging every day. Trying to instill time-honored Torah values in the hearts and minds of the next generation cannot be done in a vacuum. The social mores of the general public have sunk to new lows and have penetrated the highest, most fortified walls of morality. Living in such an environment, no one is insulated from the world at large. Just saying no doesn’t work.
A Rosh Yeshivah was approached by a student who begged for help. An upcoming major sporting event had captured the minds of some of the most popular boys in school and secret arrangements were being made to view the game. The student didn’t want to participate but was convinced he’d be regarded as abnormal for standing up for his values rather than joining the other boys.
“I’m proud of you for coming forward,” the Rosh Yeshivah said, “especially since you didn’t reveal any of the boys’ names. I have an idea how to help everybody.”
The next day, an announcement was made in the yeshivah’s dining hall: “This Sunday evening we’re going to have a bash simultaneous with the broadcast of the big game. Everyone is required to attend. You’re free to leave at half-time. Those who’d like to stay will enjoy a kumzitz.”
All the boys stayed for the kumzitz. By filling the vacuum with something equally attractive, the Rosh Yeshivah didn’t depend on just saying no.
One More Second: Another Thought for the Day
Our world is the world of tests. If a person is beset with difficulties, they’re his personal trials. If it’s difficult to learn or if it’s hard to wake up for tefillah, this is the nature of the person. The requirement is to be strong like a lion to break his nature. The fact that he has tests is the sign of a “ben Torah.” One who doesn’t face tests demonstrates that he has filed spiritual bankruptcy and he’s distant from spiritual endeavors. (Harav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, Derech Emunah U’Bitachon, p. 95)
Rabbi Raymond Beyda serves in the Sephardic Community in Brooklyn, N.Y. He lectures to audiences all over the world. He has distributed over 500,000 recorded lessons free of charge. He is author of the book 1 Minute With Yourself: A Minute a Day to Self-Improvement, Sephardic Press, 2008.