Please enable JavaScript in your browser to experience all the custom features of our site.

RabbiHorowitz.com

Mr. Harry Skydell, Chairman
Mr. Mark Karasick, Vice Chairman
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, Director
Rabbi Avrohom M. Gluck, Director of Operations
The first 1000 members will have a chance to win a
16 GB
iPod
touch
with Rabbi Horowitz audio

Membership Benefits:

  • Save articles to your favorites folder.
  • Save and print selected articles in a PDF journal.
  • Receive emails containing the latest comments on your favorite articles.
  • Mark articles as "READ".
  • More member features coming soon...

Raffle Rules:

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. To enter, complete the signup form and join as a member. Incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries shall become the property of CJFL. CJFL is not responsible for lost, misdirected or delayed entries.

The contest is open to the general public. Members need to be at least 18 years old. Identification must be produced on request. Employees of CJFL, its raffle sponsor, advertising and promotional agencies and their respective affiliates and associates and such employees' immediate family members and persons with whom such employees are domiciled are excluded from this raffle. ALL PREVIOUSLY REGISTERED MEMBERS WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY ENTERED INTO THIS RAFFLE. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. Decisions of the raffle judges are final - no substitutions will be available. By claiming the prize, the winner authorizes the use, without additional compensation of his or her name and/or likeness (first initial and last name) and municipality of residence for promotion and/or advertising purposes in any manner and in any medium (including without limitation, radio broadcasts, newspapers and other publications and in television or film releases, slides, videotape, distribution over the internet and picture date storage) which CJFL may deem appropriate. In accepting the prize, the winner, acknowledges that CJFL may not be held liable for any loss, damages or injury associated with accepting or using this prize. CJFL retains the rights, in its absolute and sole discretion, to make substitutions of equivalent kind or approximate value in the event of the unavailability of any prize or component of the prize for any reason whatsoever. This contest is subject to all federal, provincial and municipal laws. CJFL reserves the right to withdraw or terminate this raffle at any time without prior notice. One entry per person.


Issue 143- It Doesn’t Start in Tenth Grade
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
This article orignally appeared in Mishpacha Magazine

  Rated by 39 users   |   Viewed 165442 times since 1/26/07   |   77 Comments
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size    [ Change Font Size ] Email This Article to a Friend
   

1/26/07

It is rare to find a single ‘smoking gun’ – a clearly identifiable cause – (to explain why a child regresses from the ‘inner circle’ of successful students to the ‘outer ring’ of uninspired learners, and perhaps even to those who r’l sink into the morass of at-risk behaviors. After all, there are a huge range of non-educational factors – parenting and social/emotional issues – that often play a significant role in a child’s success in school. Having said that, I think that we would all agree that we have a sacred obligation to reflect upon, and seek the counsel of our gedolim, as to the most effective way to be mechanech our children so that they all reach their fullest potential.

While much attention is focused on the teen years, when many at-risk children begin exhibiting symptoms of distress, I strongly feel that in many instances the slide began far earlier, when children failed to acquire the basic skills they desperately need to achieve success. In order to illustrate the point, please permit me to present the following scenario:

Imagine that you received an offer from a generous benefactor to head a group of kollel yungerleit in learning the writings of the Rambam in their original Arabic over a period of ten years. You would love to take the assignment, but there is one slight problem. You don’t understand a word of Arabic. Your prospective donor tells you not to worry. He informs you that he is confident that you will master the language and bring new insight to the timeless works of the Rambam.

Assuming that you accepted the offer, how would you go about designing the ten-year program?

Well, there are basically two paths that you could choose. One would be to take the strategic route. You would designate significant blocks of time at the onset to carefully and methodically study the language of Arabic. After all, how could you possibly understand the basic text of the Rambam’s works, let alone the nuances of his every word without a thorough understanding of the language? You would look high and low for the best Arabic-English dictionary money could buy and keep it at your side at all times.

Perhaps you would consult with an expert in learning foreign languages. You might be advised to proceed slowly, as learning a foreign tongue is often frustrating – and there is significant danger of ‘burnout,’ if you progress too quickly at the beginning of the program. Additionally, you may decide to set a long-term goal of mastery of all topics that the Rambam draws on regularly in his writings – Chumash, Halacha and all portions of Nevi’im and Kesuvim.

There is a second and far simpler route that you could take. You can simply jump in headlong and begin reading the Rambam’s classic Morei Nevuchim (Guide to the Perplexed; a very deep and difficult philosophical sefer written by the Rambam) in Arabic the very first day. As far as the language barrier – no big deal! You figure that you will pick up Arabic as you go along. After all, you are a bright fellow and you already speak Hebrew, English and Yiddish. It can’t be difficult to learn another language, can it? You figure that the longer you keep at it, you will just get better and better at Arabic.

Reading these lines, which of the two programs described above do you think will result in a greater chance for success? The first or the second? The slow-and-steady approach or the ready-or-not-here-I-come one? Who do you think will reach the finish line first – let alone healthy and well adjusted – the tortoise or the hare?

Well, if you think about it, our pre-teen sons are in a very similar situation to that of the fictional program described above. Our sons have a ten-year ‘fellowship’ program, during which we hope that they will master the intricacies and timeless beauty of gemorah. However, in order to achieve that objective, they will need to learn to read a new language – Aramaic – without nekudos (punctuation). The best way to achieve that lofty goal is a question of approach and methodology. What type of program will allow our children to thrive and reach the finish line having mastered, appreciated, and developed a lifelong love for gemorah and learning? A slow, skill-based, balanced approach or a hurry-up program that will teach them “a lot” but not that well?

This is not a ‘new’ discussion. Read through the writings of the Maharal and others on this topic and you will discover that they suggested a methodical and systematic approach to mastery of Tanach and gemarah hundreds of years ago. (More on this in the next column.)

In these challenging times, when not “making it” in Yeshiva translates into squandered childhoods, unrealized potential, and often a complete abandonment of Yiddishkeit, we would do well to make a serious communal cheshbon hanefesh and decide if the hora’as sha’a (extenuating circumstances) of the climate nowadays mandates that we slow down the pace a bit and properly prepare our children with the skills they will need to succeed.

Kids don’t drop out in 10th grade. They fall behind in the fifth and sixth grades. And they never catch up.

© 2007 Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved



To sign up for Rabbi Horowitz’s weekly emails, please click here.


Related Articles:
Issue 149- Rolling out the Welcome Mat
Issue 139 - Proactively Addressing the Chinuch Challenges of Our Generation
Issue 141 - Exit Interviews
Issue 145 - Training Wheels
Issue 147 - Pulling in the Gangplank


Reader's Comments:      Rating & Comments Policy      Rate & Write a Comment!
 Average Rating:              Rated by 39 users    (77 comments)
Subscribe to this Article
(by subscribing you will receive email notification
when new comments are posted)

Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


1.     1/26/07 - 10:37 AM
yoni

You would think that most people would realize this as being obvious. Unfortunately it isn't.

Excelent post. I think we'd do better to educate the children in proper lashan hakodesh grammer as well. Perhaps have them write papers in those languages too.

(there is nothing sadder than someone being functionaly illiterate in three or four languages, something that happens in certain schools I know of.)


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


2. Mishnayos First     1/27/07 - 8:57 PM
T Zager

One of the biggest mistakes being made in some Yeshivos today is rushing past learning Mishnayos to focus on Gemorah. There are schools that only learn Mishnayos for one year - third grade - and start Gemoroh in fourth grade. They call Mishnayos "a summer topic."

Following your analogy, Rabbi Horowitz, how can any child understand Gemoroh, which is discussions and explanations based on Mishnayos, when they haven't learned the Mishnayos first?

Mishnayos should be learned thoroughly before children advance to complex Gemoroh and leave the basics of Mishnayos behind.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


3. gemorah for 10 year olds     1/28/07 - 11:15 AM
yoni

I want to point out something critical here, and perhaps it will have some impact.

Our sages said that at 5 one should commence learning the tenach. At 10 mishnah. At 15 gemorah.

Our sages did not speak empty words. Learning the gemorah is a very anylitical process. It involves a lot of logical abstract thought, and is very complicated, involving following multpiple trains of thought at the same time and also keeping track of the information in many tangents. It culls from a massive source of literature in the mishnayos and in the tenach, and each quote is brought for exact reasons (instead of another quote).

Untill the age of about 13 or 14 a child is what is called a "concreate operational thinker". This means that he is bound by what is real and infront of him. He cannot think abstractly or of other possibilities other than the one that confronts him in his everyday experiance. it is only at 13 or 14 that a child even begins to use logical, anylitical thought, and can think about abstract possibilities and weigh and measure them. It is only at this age that gemorah is capable of being meaningfull. Before this time you are apt to do little other than confuse a child if you expose him to gemorah, he really can't follow it at all.

We are actualy hurting most children to expose them to gemorah prior to this age. Durring this age they should only be exposed to chumash and nach, plus concrete mishnayos and halachos from the kitzur. Anything else is a waste of their time, not something that they are even capable of really understanding.

Just my two cents.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


4. On the mark     1/28/07 - 9:23 PM
Bob Miller

Rabbi, your article is exactly what many parents have been thinking. In no other course of study we have taken was there a guiding assumption that the most basic and essential skills would be picked up successfully in an spotty, unstructured way, "on the job", under the heavy pressure of time and complex subject material. This is the most important course of study our nation has. Our Jewish future depends on making the needed methodological corrections following the guidelines of Chazal.

Before we can make broad changes, though, we need some well-conceived and well-managed pilot programs to show what really does work today. Then our system needs to train a cadre of rebbeim to properly apply the lessons learned.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


5. POSITIVE SELF ESTEEM AND CONFIDENCE IN EVERY STUDENT!     1/29/07 - 4:37 AM
Odeleya Jacobs - Kew Garden Hills,NY - Odel2162aol.com

As parents and educators we should make sure to instill a positive self image in every child. We must always make sure to compliment and build confidence in every student so that every student reaches his/her potential with a loving positive attitude towards HASHEM. Too many kids tune out torah and mitzvot because the focus of many mechanchim became learning for the grade instead of instilling a love of learning because our special torah has so much to offer. The pressure to excel in learning is just too much for many boys and chinuch in most yeshivas became ONE SIZE FITS ALL instead of offering different approaches to reach the student. It is not a great accomplishment to reach those who excel naturally, the goal should be to reach EVERY student and make EACH STUDENT feel that they are VERY SPECIAL and when kids feel good about themselves and when the RIGHT APPROACH is offered to EACH STUDENT AL PI DARCO then the talmid will be motivated to try and not tune learning out. OUR GOAL SHOULD BE TO REACH EVERY STUDENT WITH WARMTH MANY COMPLIMENTS AND CREATE A POSITIVE SELF IMAGE IN EVERY STUDENT SO THAT THEY WILL FEEL GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES AS INDIVIDUALS AND AS RELIGOUS G-D FEARING JEWS.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


6. total immersion works     1/29/07 - 9:05 AM
Mrs. Y. Homnick

Although of course the first program (advance preparation) you describe sounds far superior to the second program (just jump in) and the logical approach, it’s not necessarily the right answer. Think about a family that moves to another country whether it’s Russian Jews moving to America, Jews making aliya etc. Research has shown that up until age 11, children can absorb another language with tremendous ease and can acquire the accent as well, and sound exactly like the natives.

Upon making a move, what usually happens is that a young child is sent to school and within a few months, with no dictionary, no consultations with experts, and no methodical approach, he or she masters the language. It’s called the complete immersion method and it has worked for millions of immigrants. It’s bilingual education in the US that has crippled many Hispanics etc. The English as a Second Language programs are needed for adults. When used on children it’s a failure.

Now there is definitely a need to teach young talmidim Gemara-learning skills but learning Gemara does not have to be preceded by formal instruction in Aramaic. A slow-skills program yes; a hurry up so we can show off what we covered, no. I agree with you on that. I also agree with your point that they don’t just drop out suddenly in tenth grade, though the reason may or may not have anything to do with Gemara.

By the way, another illustration of how the “jump right in” approach can be just as good if not better than the “master it step by step” approach is how people begin to use new appliances. Some read the manual or instruction booklet first. Others begin by experimenting, trying this or that. You and I know that when it comes to navigating the computer, kids far surpass adults in mastering the ins and outs, and most kids are not looking at a computer manual. They’re turning on the computer and just using it!

I agree that the study and mastery of all of Mishnayos should be the goal of all talmidim, not just the handful who learn a seder or several and even all, by their bar mitzva.

As for the mishna and waiting till the 15th year to learn Gemara (that would be from age 14 and a day), I once asked a menahel why they don’t wait. He said that the mishna is referring to first mastering Tanach, then Mishnayos, then Gemara. Our yeshivos (for many centuries now) don’t have mastery of all of Tanach, Mishnayos and Gemara as their goal. The goal of yeshivos, he said, is to give talmidim the skills to learn these parts of Torah so they can do it on their own. And that gets us back to skills and how many children are not acquiring them and what should be done about that.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


7. To::Rabbi Horowitz     1/29/07 - 10:04 AM
Anonymous

sorry, this comment is not on the topic I would like to know whether Rabbi Horowitz reads new comments made to old articles.

Do you notice them?


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


8.     1/29/07 - 11:01 AM
SephardiLady - orthonomics@gmail.com

I just wanted to comment on Odelya Jacobs comment above. While there is an importance in warmth andcompliments, real self confidence is built internally, not externally and must be based on the acquisition on real skills and mastery. I can't speak with any authority on Mishnayot or Gemorrah, so allow me to use math as an example.

In math, there is a progressive set of skills that must be acquired before one can progress to the next level. If those skills are not acquired, the student of math is well aware of this fact and all of the compliments in the world will not make the student feel good about their position vis a vis math, because they know they are failing in the subject matter (and every answer shows so). When I taught math, however briefly, the administration did not want to hand back failed work because of the self-esteem of the girls. Yet, these girls were fully aware of the fact that they were not up to par in the subject and would have been better served by rewinding the clock 3-5 years to cover the skills they missed years ago, yet that would never be considered because they didn't want to make them feel stupid.

I personally believe that self-esteem is built from the inside out and finding educational methods that work which will help students progress at an appropriate rate so they can feel success is is of utmost importance.

But we need to be careful that we allowing our children (or students) to build real self-confidence.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


9. Preaching to the choir     1/29/07 - 4:55 PM
Kayla - Brooklyn

Radical stuff, Rabbi Horowitz, radical stuff.

From the comments, it would appear that, for the most part, the commenters recognize the necessity of implementing your ideas.

(What you wrote about the Maharal, I read in his biography. I have been telling this to people for some time and no one believes me.)

It's good that this article is appearing in Mishpacha, but, let's face it, their readership is not that extensive. How do you get the message across to the movers and shakers in the chinuch field? How do you convince parents to demand this from their sons' yeshivos, especially when you consider that it was the parents who created this monster through one-upmanship. ("MY son is only 9 and already is "learning" gemara.")

The more high-pressure a yeshiva is, the more parents are anxious and desperate to enroll their children, regardless of their child's temperament and capabilities. I can't imagine why, but it's a fact. Please don't give up, Rabbi Horowitz. Keep up your fearless good work.

(Confidential to Yoni. Good points, but please use spell check.)


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


10.     1/29/07 - 5:32 PM
Yakov Horowitz

replying to various posts:

1) I do read all the posts, though not always right away, due to the demands on my time.

2) Mrs. Y. Homnick -- re your point on "immersion" It is a valid point, so long as only the new language is being learned. But I do not think that you would suggest learning physics while learning a new language.

3) Mrs. Zager: There is far too much competition for who can start gemorah first, and how fast they can learn -- mostly generated by ......... parents. more on this in later columns.

thanks for taking the time to post.

YH


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


11. immersion     1/30/07 - 6:04 AM
yoni

immersion does work, but as rabbi horowitz said only when that's all your learning. Also immersion does not tend to work nearly so well with books, you have to have people around you who are interacting with you in the language.

Immersion with the gemorah isn't going to work nearly so well, allthough once you have the basic grammar down you can use immersion to further your knowledge.

(and yes I know I don't spell well)


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


12. The Fish Store Approach to Yeshiva Education     1/30/07 - 9:40 AM
Yitzchok Levine - Brooklyn, NY - llevine@stevens.edu

Many years ago I had a discussion with the menahel of a yeshiva ketana in which my sons were studying. During the course of this conversation, he said to me, "But Dr. Levine, we must adhere to the fish store approach to education." Seeing that I was puzzled, he explained what he meant.

He said, "Mrs. A and Mrs. B go shopping for fish. They went to Bais Yaakov together, but have not seen each other in a number of years. They meet in the fish store and begin to talk.

It turns out that they both have sons about the same age who are in the same grade in different yeshivos. They mention what each boy is learning." The menahel paused and then said, "And it had better be just about the same thing or there will be trouble."

The point he was making to me is that yeshivos are loath to engage in innovation, because they are not sure how parents will react to the yeshiva doing things that other yeshivas are not doing.

To emphasize this, let me recall another conversation that I had with another menahel a long time ago. I pointed out to him that teaching Chumash in Yiddish in grades 1 to 4 and then completely abandoning Yiddish in grades 5 and up did not make sense. I then asked, "When will you stop this practice which to me makes no sense?" He replied, "When the other yeshivas do!"

So there you have it. Innovation takes real courage. Who will be the first?

Y. Levine


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


13. immersion     1/30/07 - 1:00 PM
Mrs. Y. Homnick

Immersion is not only to acquire a language. When children move to another country and are enrolled in school, they are learning all subjects in that language. It can be miserable and incomprehensible for a few months, and some children have outside help, but after a few months, all children, not just bright ones, master the language and are able to learn in that language.

Again, I'm not negating the acquiring of skills when learning Gemara, however, I don't think the Rambam in Arabic or the physics example is pertinent. If you want to get into the details of your mashal -

I haven't learned Gemara but I can understand lots of Aramaic because I learned Chumash in school. Many words in Aramaic are similiar to Lashon Ha'Kodesh. We picked up words in Aramaic from Ha Lachma Anya and Chad Gadya, from a mention in Rashi of Unkelos, and probably from some maamarei Chazal too ("kol ma d'avid rachmana, l'tav avid" etc.). And there's plenty of Lashon Ha'Kodesh in Gemara. Rashi on Gemara is in Lashon Ha'Kodesh.

As for the Maharal, as you said, it's not a new discussion. There was a reason that Torah was NOT taught that way over the past many centuries and I don't think it's because the great Torah leaders and rabbonim of that time were remiss ...

About Yiddish in the younger grades only - if it is being suggested that Yiddish not be taught at all, I disagree. I'm in favor of the other approach - continue to teach it in the upper grades. I teitched both Chumash and Navi in Yiddish for 8 grades and I am so grateful that I have that Yiddish background as an adult. It's invaluable to me.

But the topic of Yiddish in the schools is another topic, one that has been discussed in the past - the Jewish Observer had articles on this years ago. Getting back to immersion - to do it right, the children should be in a Yiddish immersion classroom.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


14. Mishna Avos/Zilberman method?     1/30/07 - 1:33 PM
Robert Rubovits

What about the Zilberman method? We have friends in E"Y who sons learn in such a yeshiva, where they strictly follow the guidelines of the Mishna and don't start gemora until 15. I heard a school in Baltimore is trying it. It makes a lot of sense to me, from a skills standpoint as well as self-esteem. If we want our students to understand high level physics it only makes sense that they first have a firm grasp of elementary science concepts. Mastery, or at least a good grasp, of Tanakh and Mishna before they start gemora - what an incredible advantage they would have! Add to this starting when they are more intellectually mature makes it a no brainer for me. And by self-esteem, what child isn't thrilled at their Parsha siyum, where they have a very solid grasp of the basics of the parsha? Can we even image the joy young, concrete thinkers would have in completing sefer after sefer and seder after seder? I was told yes, it's a good idea, but the system isn't built for it - that boys go to yeshiva at 13-14 and are expected to have the basics (or better) of gemora down. But I wonder - what if you took a 15 year old who learned this Zilberman method and dropped him in the first year gemora shiur in any "regular" yeshiva? At the beginning, yes, he would struggle, but his vast storehouse of knowledge and his self-confidence would certainly make up for it, and I bet he'd catch up and go ahead in no time. If we use the science analogy, let's say a child only learned biology and chemistry in science class for 15 years (10 of them in school), how would they fair in first year physics, never having ever see a physics book? I imagine, after an intial period of getting up to speed, fantastically well. It's being done in E"Y and Baltimore - why not more?


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


15. zilberman critique     1/30/07 - 4:39 PM
Anonymous

I read this comment somewhere on the Internet and repeat it here with the caveat that I am not personally familiar with the zilberman method, so don't have firsthand information. This is what the person said:

"To learn gemora a child needs to acquire certain skills. You can get to 8th grade in Zilberman not knowing how to read! I've witnessed this with my own eyes. A child needs 1) reading/language skills, 2) comprehension, 3)Ikar/ tefel, 4) context and 5) analytical thinking. Zilberman weakens all of these skills by total lack of use for 8 years.

"The proper answer is for mechanchim to put the emphasis from the earliest age at developing these 5 skills that will facilitate learning gemoro. If a bachur is good at it and is reinforced, then he will like learning gemora."


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


16.     1/30/07 - 9:51 PM
yoni

um, i'm sorry but no kid under the age of 14 can engage in analytical thinking. Some of the very brightest can, but noone else.

You can't stretch a muscle they don't have, and I've seen it personaly. The kids don't have the warewithal to properly understand gemorah at all, it goes in one ear and I can promise you they are incapable of getting it at all. That's why we call them concreate thinkers, they're totaly incapable of the necessary hypothetical thought.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


17. analytical thinking/Chumash     1/31/07 - 10:21 AM
Mrs. Y. Homnick

yoni - that's a rather extreme statement Do you think that on the child's birthday, boom! He or she can suddenly start to think analytically? What about all the children who have studied Gemara before the age of 14 over the centuries - you think they were all wasting their time and didn't understand much?

Check out Piaget's model for child development and you will see that from ages 7-11 their analytical skills are DEVELOPING. From 11-15, if they have been developed, they can solve abstract problems in logical fashion.

Rabbi Horowitz - according to your presentation in this article, it would seem that you would also be opposed to having 1st graders learning Chumash without advanced preparation, particularly an extensive study of Lashon Ha'Kodesh. Do you recommend that before opening a Chumash children master Lashon Ha'Kodesh?

http://educ-reality.com/jean-piaget-and-lev-vygotsky/


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


18. Piaget     1/31/07 - 10:50 AM
yoni

It's not quite so plain.

First, considering those whom, in the past, studied the gemorah at young ages, most of them where the brightest of the bright, and hence tended to be on the forward side of that devide.

However, when everyone is studying gemorah, most of them will tend towards not developing their ability to reason abstractly more towards 13 or 14. True it wont be over night, however, until they do reach that divide they will grossly missunderstand the gemorah, and it could potentialy hurt their ability to appriciate it. Far better to wait till later when they are certainly capable of anylitical and hypothetical reasoning, than to do so before hand when they are as yet incapable of appriciating that these are hypothetical suggestions.

Yes some will be able to learn it at a younger age, but most will simply be wasting their time. I've seen it time and time again.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


19. Chinuch?     1/31/07 - 11:03 AM
Mordy

Reb Yaakov, thank you for the article.

What do you recommend practically for a parent agrees with you?


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


20. Talmud =/= Talmud Torah     1/31/07 - 12:49 PM
efrex - New York/NY - erieser@gmail.com

Rabbi Horowitz: What's missed in your otherwise excellent post is that there is a complete realm of Jewish learning that is as complex, fulfulling, and "Torah-true" as gemara learning, including Chumash, Navi, Jewish History, practical Halacha, philosophy, literature, art, Dikduk... The focus on gemara learning as the be-all and end-all of Torah-true education has, IMHO, alienated far more students than it has elevated. There are students who are simply not inclined to intricate Talmudic discussions, but can perk up immediately when talking about past gedolim and their philosophies, or discussing differences in siddurim or midrashim. They are either completely left behind in the current Yeshiva system, or forced to endure hours of boring legal analysis under the guise of "Torah-true education."


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


21. Zilberman in Baltimore     1/31/07 - 12:54 PM
Someon

Robert Rubovits is correct the Zilberman method is being taught in Baltimore at the Talmudic Academy (TA) to one segment of the class. TA had been around for about 100 years. Even an estabished yeshiva can change.

I agree with the comment saying a Zilberman student could catch up quickly at the age of 15 to learn Gm. From personal experience, I had came to an established yeshiva with little Gm. background, having finished public high-school, at the age of 17 and caught up to the average student in one year. This got me thinking right away that there MUST BE SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE SYSTEM if someone with little background, but good study skills and focus, can catch up that fast.

I once asked R. Yaakov Weinberg Z'L, Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisrel from 1987 until his death, why Gm. is taught from such a young age (5th grade) and whether it was the proper way. He said the students should be learning Mishna instead until 13 or so. As to why Gm. started so early? Parental Gaavah - to have bragging rights that my child is "learing" Gm. so young. What is funny to me is that almost all the people I speak to agree Gm. starts too young. So who is doing the pushing today? Just status quo I think.

Something has to change and I hope it is for the better.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


22. A comment on a previous article     1/31/07 - 2:07 PM
Anonymous

The truth is that the "at risk" factor is only one small symptom of the problems in our education system. The inner dancing circle that you described, in reality is not up to par. I know because I'm in Lakewood. I learn with many of our yeshivas' successes because I'm in Kollel with them.

Our yeshivos are not succeeding in making sure that all their students are acquiring the necessary skills to learn. Our yeshivas are not making sure that their students are acquiring knowledge of large amounts of gemara. In fact many of the "better" yeshivas (the ones that everyone tries to get their kids into) are not even trying.

Too many rebbeim think that their job is just to give shiur. They don't pay attention to where the students are holding. They say to themselves: "If a bochur is not gaining from my shiur, he shouldn't be here". Meanwhile no one is making sure that the bochrim can do something as simple as saying back the shakla vetaryah of the gemara!! With all the focus on what the rebbe says in shiur and on lomdus, many students don't realize they are not learning. If they know how to throw around some sevaros they think they're doing okay. Testing in these yeshivas is frowned upon (We're too good for that). It's so sad to see men in their 20's slowly realize that they haven't really been learning all this time. These boys are all going through the system, through the top yeshivas all the way to Brisk, then to Lakewood and no one is overseeing the quality of the product we are producing.

Change will not be easy. The first people to resist will be the parents. I just overheard a parent talking about his son in the 11th grade of a prominent yeshiva. He was saying that his son has 45 boys in his class. "That seems like a lot" someone said to him.

"It's the 'aleph' shiur" he explained "they don't need so much help from their rebbeim, they're good boys".

I am much younger than the man that was saying this and I couldn't think of a respectful way to reply, but their were so many things wrong with what he was saying.

1. Aleph guys need just as much attention as beis guys if you want to maximize their potential, if not more.

2. Let's accept this assumption that it's OK for an aleph class to have 45 students, are these really aleph guys in this class?

A. At what age were the classes divided? The classes were probably divided into aleph beis and gimmel when the boys first started 9th grade. Many more skills are acquired (hopefully) since that time. Since the boys develop these skills at varied speeds it follows that the boys that were "aleph" boys when coming out of 8th grade are not necessarily aleph boys any more. Also many of the "beis" boys may now very well be aleph boys. We can't call this class an "aleph" class based on the division made at such a young age.

B. What was the criteria to enter the "aleph class? I'm sure they accepted all the boys that were learning the best, but I'm also sure they accepted all the boys with "pull". what's going to be with all those poor boys that have been granted the favor of acceptance into the aleph class.

3. We have to ask ourselves: Why are their 45 boys in one class? Is it to save money? The school cannot afford to hire a second rebbe? I doubt it. Maybe the rebbe is so outstanding that everyone wants to be in his class even if it means a class of 45 guys? Maybe. But I think I know the real answer. If we were to split this class in half, all the parents of those that were put in the lower class would come screaming bloody murder. This is despite the fact that their children are being put in a smaller class where the shiur is closer to their level. They'd be upset because their son has to be in the best class, in the best yeshiva whether it's good for him or not. Bottom line is that in an aleph shiur of 45 boys, if the shiur is being given at the high level expected of an aleph shiur, at least half of the boys do not belong there and are probably wasting their time.

Maybe this mentality is for shidduchim. I don't know. But until this ends, until parents stop having to get their sons into the "best" yeshiva they can (the one with the best "shem"), we're going to continue to have "top" students that don't know how to learn, and nobody, not even the students, will notice.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


23. art is Torah?!     1/31/07 - 3:23 PM
M

efrex: You lump it all together. How about differentiating between Torah (that which fulfills the mitzva of Talmud Torah), Jewish learning (ex. Jewish history), that which facilitates Torah learning (ex. dikduk, laining), and non-Torah learning?

Jewish history is important but it's not Torah study, as far as I know. Ditto for philosophy (and it is highly questionable as to whether children, even adults, should be exposed to philosophy). Literature? What kind? Whatever it is, it sure ain't Torah. Neither is art.

As for the students who are not "Gemara kep (heads)," they have to learn Torah too! Discussions about gedolim and their weltanschung are nice, so are Jewish art projects, but they're aren't Torah study! Is our premise that every Jew has his place in Torah? What do mechanchim suggest should be done with talmidim who are not that good with Gemara? This is an old question, what are the answers?


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


24.     1/31/07 - 3:57 PM
efrex

M:

I would very strongly argue that a knowledge of Jewish history and philosophy is indispensable to understanding Torah. Rashi, Ramban, Rambam, Abarvanel, RSR Hirsch, etc. didn't create their commentaries in a vacuum; they were the products of specific philosophies at a specific time. Even if you believe that it's wrong to study non-Jewish philosophers, it's critical to study Jewish philosophy.

As for literature: How many people, even with an ArtScroll translation, can work through Yom Kippur davening, yotztrot (sorry, my yekkish heritage showing through), or selichot without a grounding in literary imagery/reference? If you honestly claim that being able to figure out what happens if a husband throws a get off his roof into his wife's courtyard and it spontaneously combusts mid-air (eighth perek, Gittin) is more important than understanding the tefillot that you say every week or on the most important day of the year, then I weep.

I'll concede the art point, although if I have to hear another frum musician taking one posuk completely out of context, sing it twenty times over to an overwrought synthesizer line with a 70s-era guitar solo thrown somewhere in there, I'll... well, I'm not sure *what* I'll do, but it won't be pretty...


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


25.     1/31/07 - 4:02 PM
efrex

Oh, and M? The question of "What do mechanchim suggest should be done with talmidim who are not that good with Gemara?"

Is not so old, because the answer used to be very simple: THEY DIDN'T LEARN GEMARA! The whole "every frum child goes to yeshiva and learns gemara" concept is maybe two generations old. My grandfather and my father both grew up frum; neither had extensive gemara training.

The ONLY reason why "what to do with someone without a gemara 'kup'" is even asked is because of this horrific idea that the only "real" Torah learning is gemara learning. It ain't true, and it ain't never been true.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


26. Links to Articles on Learning Patterns     1/31/07 - 4:48 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey, NY

Dear All:

Regretfully, I do not have the time to properly respond to the many comments on this thread. Perhaps I will later this evening. (Some of the points that I raise in article #4 in this series address issues discussed here re: skills teaching, how girls learn vs. how boys do)

In the meantime, permit me to direct your attention to a series of three articles that I published on the topic of diverse learning patterns – and how to properly reach visual learners.

1) http://www.rabbihorowitz.com/PYes/ArticleDetails.cfm?Book_ID=20&ThisGroup_ID=235&Type=Article

2) http://www.rabbihorowitz.com/PYes/ArticleDetails.cfm?Book_ID=21&ThisGroup_ID=235&Type=Article

3) http://www.rabbihorowitz.com/PYes/ArticleDetails.cfm?Book_ID=22&ThisGroup_ID=235&Type=Article

They may be helpful to gain a better understanding of the issues we face in teaching gemorah to our children/talmidim, and may hopefully help you address your child’s learning needs.

As always, I welcome your comments.

YH


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


27. halacha     1/31/07 - 5:49 PM
tb

I agree with efrex about the overemphasis on Gemara. We frum Jews do not realize how much what we do is dictated by style of the time. We need to ask our Gedolim the right questions. They, as proven in this thread alone, will answer accordingly. Someone mentioned Halacha. My husband--an alumnus of a black hat mesivte and beis medrash-- is extremely unhappy that his Halacha knowledge is abysmal and hopes for better for our sons. Why do they not study Halacha intensely? Is that not Jewish enough?


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


28. Why doesn't Daas Torah take care of this?     1/31/07 - 7:06 PM
Anonymous

So much for Daas Torah. These ideas about chinuch are so basic and intuitive. Why haven't the gedolim we're supposed to blindly follow figured this out and made the necessary changes?


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


29. Is anyone here a rebbi     1/31/07 - 7:23 PM
Rebbi

So far it appears that we have not heard from rebbeim/ mechanchim. Allow me to share my experience of many years.

I want to begin by stating that I agree with those who argue that gemara should be put off until as close to 15 as possible.

15 ain't gonna happen so fast. But we can talk about deferring teaching gemara at least until 7th grade. A small number of MO schools have recently done so as I can attest to. Until the end of 6th grade kids learn mishna and those (your mizuyanim) who are aching for more get some gemara. Today, in MO schools ,where I have taught extensively, gemara is taught in 6th grade. It CAN be taught and it even can be enjoyed by many students. I find this is even more true in 7th grade than in 6th grade, but I have achieved success in 6th as well.

The challenge is to find the mesechta, and the sugyos within that mesechta, that motivate the students. And, as Rav Horowitz likes to say, "L'mman Hashem," please stop asking "how many blatt" have you covered? Skipping over complicated shakle vetarya to cover interesting discussions that the students relate to are a key to getting their attention, and ahavas HaTorah.

The problem we face is that many menahalim feel pressured to teach the "Nezikin" mesechtos by parents and chaverim in other schools. Such pressure cookers downgrade how "good" the menahel's school is if they dare introduce (shudder the thought)a Moed mesechta or other. But it can be done.

My Rosh Yeshiva (Ner Yisrael) agreed with an idea I had years ago when I began teaching MO kids; that it is better to mix and stir stories about the tannaim and amoraim into the gemara. When learning about Rabbi Akiva or Rabbi Yehoshua why on earth not stop and inspire the students by telling them something about all the names they learn about, which tend to become a blur, without any understanding of the centuries, the periods etc.

The same is true when teaching a pasuk that the gemara uses. Why not talk about Yimiyahu, or Dovid, or even review the facts about the story in Chumash under discussion rather than race to "cover, cover more" and abandon the opportunity to do valuable chazara in a subject the students used to enjoy.

I must admit that I had my own fears. My students got 40 minutes a day of gemara in 7th grade and we covered "only" two and a half blatt a year. But the number of my talmidim that went on to learn beautifully in Beis Medrash is inspiring. They certainly had to work harder in Beis Medrash. But they left junior high school with many skills and an impressive list of words, and most importantly a love for gemara. And isn't that the key?

An important question for Rav Horowitz. What are the boys in HIS yeshiva doing? When do they begin gemara? And for how long? And which gemaras?


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


30. To 2 Previous Posts     1/31/07 - 7:46 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey, NY

To Anon (2 posts earlier):

We are not supposed to "follow gedolim blindly."

Please review my "Answers about Questions" article (use the search engine on my site to find the article) for my thoughts on how da'as Torah is to be had.

And, frankly, I find parents to blame for this, not "gedolim". For it is the parents who are pushing school heads. (I will be writing about that in later columns)

------------------------

to "Rebbi": Thanks for your great post -- and your bold question to me re my own yeshiva.

1) We start gemorah in middle of 5th grade (just started this Sunday, in fact).

2) We spend the first half of the year in 5th grade teaching pre-gemorah skills -- lists of Arameic words, commonly-used phrases, etc. I hope to post many of the materials we use on the "Bright Beginnings" section of this site soon. (Click on Bright Beginnings on the homepage and go to chumash section for an idea of how we teach chumash skills.)

3) We learn Meseches Brachos in the 5th grade. We find it to be much easier for the talmidim to begin their first steps in gemorah that way.

YH


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


31.     1/31/07 - 9:09 PM
Anonymous

1. Gemara has to be taught early precisely because it is a new language. 2. "Berachos first" is not a good idea. It's not the sort of learning we're trying to train the children for.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


32.     1/31/07 - 9:14 PM
Anonymous

One more thing. This is the first I've heard of an attempt to teach the language before teaching the gemara. I believe languages have to be prctised more than learnt, words like eelaimah, tah shema, will have almost no meaning to someone who never saw it used in the gemara.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


33.     1/31/07 - 9:20 PM
Anonymous

As to why we do not learn halacha intensely; I'd answer that in order to learn halacha properly one must know the gemaras behind the halacha. Those that learn halacha from the mishna berura are really taking a shortcut that does not work too well. We do not start our children off in learning gemaras that are relevant to everyday halacha because they are not ready to learn gemara aliva dehilchoso yet. As to why gemara is not learnt aliva dehilchaso at a later age, I don't know.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


34. thanks for the clarification     1/31/07 - 9:32 PM
tb

I appreciate your explanation, anonymous. I think I begin to get it. In terms of later study of Halacha, that may be off topic, but could we get and give our kids a clue? When the Kashrus mess happened in Monsey, people didn't have the foggiest idea of what to do. They chose to do things even before consulting a Rav that made absolutely no sense. We do not in Chareidi culture right now revere Halacha as people may think we do. If we did, we would teach it in Yeshiva. Instead we revere the idea of it.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


35. Anonymous has not been in the classroom     1/31/07 - 10:23 PM
Rebbi

Rav Horowitz,

Thank you.

To Anon,

Pardon my bluntness but reading your comments make it abundantly clear that you have not spent time teaching kids in class; or (worse, if you have)you just do not know how kids learn in the junior high years.

The notion that teaching "Berachos" is wrong because that is not what we are preparing them to learn misses the point entirely.

Kids in 5th, 6th, 7th and even 8th grade are not ready to be trained to learn gemara in the manner you are suggesting, except for the mitzuyanim. There, I can agree. I have seen this myself in top level classes in excellent MO schools as well as among children of my chaverim in the chareidi community.

What we are doing, however, is taking children who one hundred years ago would never have learned gemara in the first place. At most they would have learned Chayai Adam in a shteibl in some shtetl between mincha and maariv. And they would have justifiably have been proud to learn Hashem Yisborach's directives for their lives. Why talk down halacha for goodness sake, whether the Mishna Berura of Chayai Adam?

We are now forcing such kids to reason and break their poor kepalech in a sophisticated way they cannot possibly understand, and certainly not enjoy!

Do you really think the rank and file kids in Slutzk or Kletzk where Rav Aharon, z"l was Rosh Yeshiva were all studying mesechtos taught in his yeshiva? C'mon. They were reading Tehillim and having the Chayei Adam read to them by someone who, himself, may not have learned acharonim.

What is left for us mechanchim?

To do as I have suggested and as has worked with many talmidim of mine and chaverim of mine.

To inspire their neshamos that want to be inspired with a love of Torah. By infusing gemara with sugyos, maasei tzadikim and chazaro of the material (Chumash, halacha) they already know. To give them confidence and some sense of belonging in a world that Chazal themselves felt was below their years and intellectual maturity.

Another comment I believe you made earlier also misses the point entirely. You disagree with teaching Jewish history or dikduk in class because that is not part of the mitzvah of Talmud Torah. Of course you are correct, as per what exactly constitutes limud HaTorah.

What you miss, nebech, is the values of ahavas Hashem and ahavas Yisrael, and the kedusha of loshon HaKodesh that these limudim convey to the students. For years and years they will not have the privilege of loving learning gemara because their kepalech are not ready, and because their rebbeim insist that ONLY gemara has true value.

But one only has to ask those students who were inspired to buy into Am Yisrael by their love of Hashem and Yiddishkeit. And that came from other limudim; Chumash, Navi, Jewish history. The numbers of such students are too many to recount. I challenge you to think of the great askanim of the last generation (I do not want to name names) and ask yourself. How many of them were mitzuyanim in gemara? And yet, what they did for Am Yisroel, including making possible your learning and my teaching?

Our truly lucky talmidim who are yet uninspired push ahead despite their handicap in gemara. With siyata dishmaya they are priviliged to later develop ahavas GEMARA when their kepalech are ready to appreciate the beauty, the hgenius, the logic and the kedusha of Chazal and their Torah.

As for the others?

They are out the door and populating our bars, pool halls, theaters, etc. And the tragedy is they did not even get the chance to buy into ANY part of Yiddishkeit. They were told either directly or subliminally that all the rest isn't very important.

Play ball, guys.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


36. Brachos - Eilu Metzius     1/31/07 - 10:41 PM
Anonymous

There's someone who said that the reason the boys start with Eilu Metzius rather than Brachos is so that they start with the yesod of respecting other people's property. Anybody know which rabbi said this?


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


37. From personal experience     1/31/07 - 10:43 PM
Anonymous

In my opinion, starting kids too early in Gemoro negatively affects not only those kids that drop out, but also those kids that stay in. Teaching a nine year old Gemoro teaches him one major lesson. That Gemoro makes a series of incomprehensible assertions that ought to be accepted at face value, because "azoi shtait." Because of my personal circumstances (I grew up "out of town"), I began learning Gemoro seriously at the age of 13. Within one year, I was ahead of most of my class in comprehension. Even at the age of 22-23, I found my Yeshiva colleagues approaching difficult ideas as if they were fated not to understand them, while I approached every assertion in the Gemoro expecting them to make sense, and they do... Chazal wrote the Gemoro and they said that it should not be studied until the fifteenth year (age 14). Why not take their instruction seriously?


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


38.     2/1/07 - 12:21 AM
Anonymous

Rebbi, I have been in the classroom, only not as a rebbi but as a student. No, I am not the one who made the comment about jewish history. As to your comments about kids who should just go to chayei adam shiur, I believe we have to give everyone a chance to succeed in learning gemara. I don't see how you can decide at an early age who should just give up and learn chayei adam between mincha and maariv.

The best way to introduce kids to learning gemara is to give them gemaros written in various typical formats a perek like ailu metzius which starts with a few eebayeih lehus and a machlokes with raayos back and forth on a topic that the students are able to think about on their own (unlike berachos). I think most kids are a lot more capable than you portray them.

The one change that I would advocate would be to stop promoting kids to a higher level shiur when they aren't ready! That doesn't mean don't introduce gemara in 5th grade. it means don't put someone who's learning gemara on a 5th grade level in a 7th grade level shiur. There is nothing wrong with a 7th grader who learns gemara on a 5th grade level he just needs some more time to develop his skills, when he develops them he may become the best in his class and if he needs more time we should be willing to give it to him. Only we won't because we're crazy about putting children in the best class we can get them into (see the comment earlier titled comment on a previous article)


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


39.     2/1/07 - 12:24 AM
Anonymous

Someone said: Chazal wrote the Gemoro and they said that it should not be studied until the fifteenth year (age 14). Why not take their instruction seriously?

The answer is because nowadays gemara is written in a foreign language which must be learnt earlier.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


40.     2/1/07 - 7:10 AM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey, NY

Brachos - Eilu Metzius 1/31/07 - 10:41 PM Anonymous

There's someone who said that the reason the boys start with Eilu Metzius rather than Brachos is so that they start with the yesod of respecting other people's property. Anybody know which rabbi said this?

This quote is from Hagaon Reb Moshe Feinstein z'lt, posted in a teshuvah of his.

I do not have the time to respond to the obvious question, "Why not accept his teshuva," in these short lines.

But suffice it to say (for now) that most Jewish communities where there is only one yeshiva grade school -- and hence no 'competition' between mosdos -- start and have started for decades with brachos.

YH


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


41.     2/1/07 - 9:47 AM
Anonymous

YH said: "But I do not think that you would suggest learning physics while learning a new language."

But I wouldn't have a problem with learning a new language from a book on physics.

On your schools practice of teaching gemara words before the actual gemara: I think that the more common trouble boys have with learning gemara is that they are not able to space the words properly, they can't figure out where a question starts and ends. The best way to deal with these sort of problems is to learn more gemara!


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


42. rebbi:     2/1/07 - 10:12 AM
M

You seem to think that all the dropouts failed at Gemara and got the message that nothing but Gemara is important. It sounds like you have a lot to say about the classroom and rightly so, because you speak from experience, but do you have any experience at all with dropouts? If you did, you would know that for the vast majority of them, Gemara has nothing to do with their plight.

And you misunderstood what I wrote earlier. I did NOT disagree with teaching Jewish history or dikduk in class. I was responding to someone who equated Torah study with the study of dikduk, art etc. The point I was making was what constitutes limud ha'Torah.

I haven't heard anybody make the claim that the study of dikduk increases anybody's love for Hashem or his fellow Jew. Nor have I heard that claim made for the study of Jewish history. One can learn the principle of Hashgacha Pratis from Jewish history, yes. Ahavas Hashem and Yiras Hashem is learned primarily from Maasei Tzaddikim and the study of Chassidus and Mussar. So far, nobody has said at what age they think Chassidus and Mussar should be introduced and how.

As for Ahavas Yisrael - do you think that is acquired primarily from sefarim?


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


43.     2/1/07 - 12:20 PM
yoni

ahavas hashem and yiras hashem is not aquired from sefarim well at all. It is aquired from a good teacher. As for ahavas yisroel, that's aquired from being out there and seeing peoples plight and doing something about it, and like hillel said, the whole of torah is ahavas yisroel, everything else is comentary.

We need to be focusing a lot more on teaching them tolerance for the various forms of orthodox jewry, and even apprication for the good that non-orthodox jews do as well. It would do us well to incalculate them with that respect and a deep sensitivity towards others. We do that through action, through encourageing and rewarding such acts when they are younger and through encouraging them to empathize with others when the are older. Putting them in hospitals to see the suffering, and exposing them to life and teaching them to be sensitive to it.

With out proper ahavas yisroel and humility their torah is meaningless and offensive to g-d anyway (and if you don't believe me just read nach. They say it over and over again).


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


44. Are they listening???     2/1/07 - 1:28 PM
Anonymous

I write the following with great trepidation. Perhaps it is not the place of a simple Yid to speak out, but I wonder if I am not voicing the view of many (perhaps thousands) of parents.

I was in chinuch for many years. Whenever I mentioned to the hanhala that the pace was too fast, I was told cited various chazalim such as the one that equates teaching Torah to children with "scooping the barley into the mouths of the oxen" etc. When I challenged the administration to prove that it's working (over 10 years ago) after a bit of backtracking I was told that it's not really their fault. This is what the parents are demainding. Everyone wants to get their kids into Yeshiva X or Y, so they are just trying to get their kids up to snuff to get into the quality Yeshivos. Sadly there are many kids in our system who can't keep up but that's the price we have to pay for "the situation".

So I respectfully ask... Are our Gedolim taking note? Are they telling the tzibbur that they shouldn't be wanting that? Or are they leaving it to you to write articles and that's all?

Until they step up to the plate and demand a change in our curriculum and pace, little will change.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


45. Responding to Rabbi Horowitz's response     2/1/07 - 2:21 PM
Kayla - Brooklyn

Rabbi Horowitz, re: your comment about it being the parents who generate this pressure on the yeshivos, I totally agree. (See my comment almost directly above yours.)


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


46.     2/1/07 - 2:51 PM
Anonymous - NJ

Why do parents want their boys in the top yeshivos? The answer is probably because of shidduchim. Since all girls are told that the BEST shidduch is with a boy who is learning full time at the best yeshiva, then you can understand why this is all happening. So, if things start changing in the shidduch world - if a frum girl can be made to understand that a BEST shidduch could also be with a boy who is working for a living (supporting his family as per the Kesuba) and is kovei itim at the same time - then maybe things will start to change. And the boys who are not suited to learn full time for years after marriage will have self-respect for themselves and not feel like second class citizens. They can go to average yeshiva high schools, and then attend average beis medrash programs while going to college part-time to prepare for parnasa after marriage. (And the bonus is - maybe if the father of the family is working, the mother can stay home and raise her babies, at least for a few years - doesn't this sound like a Jewish idea???)


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


47.     2/1/07 - 7:22 PM
Anonymous

Seems like the current curriculum is fine for our better students. So we don't need to change the curriculum, we just have to stop promoting students to higher classes when they aren't ready. We just need a better way of dividing up classes than 5th grade 6th grade and 7th grade. And when we make level based classes we have to stop bending to pressure to put everyone in the aleph class


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


48. What is the next step to accomplish change?     2/1/07 - 9:31 PM
tb

To Anonymous : "We just need a better way of dividing up classes than 5th grade 6th grade and 7th grade. And when we make level based classes..." We need to foster Ahavas Achim, Ahavas Yisrael. It doesn't come about by dividing children up by level, thereby perpetually stigmatizing the lower level children. School/Yeshiva should not just be about text learning. Anonymous NJ: Right on! Let's get the mommies back in the house. The kids would all learn better and be happier and better adjusted, and more Mentschen. As a teacher, I see it all the time. Many times you can tell whose mommies are home and whose are not. Let's stop pushing all our boys to be Yessachar. "Are they listening?" I wish I understood if these articles that Rabbi Horowitz writes actually make a difference. I know the groundbreaking Jewish Observer article on At Risk youth was really helpful long term in getting people to notice the problem. Would it be helpful to form a delegation of respectful followers like "Are they listening" and Rabbi Horowitz to approach our Rashei Yeshiva and ask for practical, concrete announcements and changes in how our boys learn in Yeshiva?


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


49.     2/1/07 - 10:29 PM
Anonymous

yes, we need to foster ahavas achim, and not stigmatize people who learn on a lower level. It's the fear of stigma that's the source of all our problems


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


50. To help clarify     2/1/07 - 11:17 PM
Rebbi

Anonymous,

Your correction is duly noted. My comments about Chayyei Adam were not a suggestion for our students today, arguing that we ought to learn that instead of gemara. Rather they were meant to clarify the way things used to be.

I am responding to a common misperception many of us have. Many fine yidden I speak with believe that the standards we now have for all, in limud gemara, were put in place to follow the way things were done in Europe.

In Europe most Jews did not learn much beyond the Chayyai Adam, at least as far as I understood from my zeydah and other Jews who grew up in Eastern Europe. Boys were working at twelve, or thirteen the latest. Only the exceptional ones went to yeshiva after that age. I find that nearly all the people I tell this to are surprised.

My zeydah and his chaverim never even heard of the Chofetz Chayyim, z"l as late as 1920. The ordinary Jews learned Chayyei Adam. Their gedolei yisroel were the Admurim of Galicia and Russia. Only when he came to Bialystok did he learn of the great rabban shel yisrael who lived in Radin.

Also, my experience leads me to agree you as far as learning Eilu Metzios. The pieces of gemara you argue for are bite size, skill related and are about things that kids think about, which is so very important to kids in those years.

I part company with many others who advocate Nezikin mesechtos because so often the learning is different from what you are describing. It is above the heads of the kids, the learning is too fast and furious and they do not understand what the particular sugya has to do with them, today.

I have found that select Moed sugyos are more easily learned and appreciated by students. That is what I have seen in the MO schools I have been associated with as well as other schools, where chaverim of mine teach.

Yes, I agree. Give all kids a chance to learn gemara. But it should not be at the expense of slowly developed, interesting sugyos the kids can relate to. Nor for goodness sake should gemara time that can otherwise be spent on Chumash, Navi and halacha. The pressure and timing is insane.

To M:

I understand that you (and many others) do not see values coming from learning Jewish history.

I guess I have been fortunate enough to see otherwise. In both schools where I have seen it taught by capable and passionate teachers, the time spent by many of the students on Jewish history taught them not only Hashgacha Pratis as you point out but also ahavas Hashema and,importantly, ahavas Yisroel.

I suppose because in both cases the rebbes had their eyes on the ball, so to speak. They are guiding the students to see not only Hashem Yisborach's hand but also: (a) the miracle of Am Yisroel's existence and the zechus that comes from being a part of the nation with such a peladika history (b) the achdus, feeling connected to kehillos throughout the world, (d) the unbelievable mesiras nefesh that yidden had to simply be yidden amd part of Am Yisroel, and (d)the chessed that yidden did for other yidden throughout history.

I suppose that because it is taught this way many of the students I knew (and know) in these class have come away thanking Hashem for being born a Yid. And they feel a connection with yidden in many other parts of the world, something very valuable to pass on to our kinderlach.

And yes, you are correct. I have not had extensive experience with kids at risk, but I have had some. Clearly you sound more knowledgable than I. Truly, hats off to you and your melechas haKodesh.

I am not naive enough to believe that most kids end up in trouble only or even mostly because of the way they learned gemara. I believe (as many fine people have commented on this blog) that it begins in the home, in the time and love that children see from their parents. As any rebbi can attest, it is heartbreaking to see what many parents are doing to their children.

What Rav Horowitz quoted in a different letter on this blog, in the name of Rav Pam (vis-a-vis a couple wanting to know if they should have guests over if it takes time away from the kids) I was fortunate to hear from an adom godol in Eretz Yisral many years ago. I never forgot the advice. It shaped (and shapes) the way my wife and I plan our Shabbos table.

But I still maintain that at least many of our boys (including this one) learn early on that if they are unsuccessful in what their particular yeshiva emphasizes is "really" important, (gemara b'amkus as is often narrowly defined) they have no real chelek in Torah. Fortunately, I was stubborn enough to keep shteiging. I knew (and know)others who simply gave up and felt they could not be a true yid without the particularly narrow definition of an amkan or lamdan.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


51.     2/1/07 - 11:36 PM
Anonymous - NJ

QUOTING COPY FROM REBBE.. "What Rav Horowitz quoted in a different letter on this blog, in the name of Rav Pam (vis-a-vis a couple wanting to know if they should have guests over if it takes time away from the kids) I was fortunate to hear from an adom godol in Eretz Yisral many years ago. I never forgot the advice. It shaped (and shapes) the way my wife and I plan our Shabbos table."

If this adom godol was concerned about time and attention being taken away from the children in a household because of Shabbos guests, then what would the same adom godol say about all the mommies that are working full time out of the the house to support their families so their husbands can learn full time?That is a LOT more time and attention being taken away from children than just mealtimes.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


52. levels     2/2/07 - 10:44 AM
M

How come grouping based on learning needs is considered by many to be out of the question? Does it make any sense to group children based on their birthdays?! Really now! And if your birthday is a week before a certain arbitrary date, you're in THIS grade, and if your birthday falls after the arbitrary date, you're in THAT grade.

Strange how those who will agree that it makes no sense to teach Gemara before acquiring the vocab and skills, will champion grouping by age when the latter makes no educational sense.

Our current fixation with getting kids to esteem themselves is working against those same kids, but very few people are willing to say the emperor has no clothes. What were the chadarim like in Europe - did the parents fill out forms with their child's date of birth or did the children enter the Keria class and then move on, when ready, to the Chumash class, and then to the Mishnayos class and Gemara class? What a novel idea! Move on when you're ready!

Remember the many stories about various gedolim who outgrew their cheder or their melamed and had to go elsewhere? Would it have been in their best interest to insist they stay with their class?

p.s. great question there anonymous NJ! If we're so concerned about parents giving time to their children, mommies should be home raising them!


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


53. Correct     2/2/07 - 12:46 PM
Rebbi

To Anon,

Een Hachi Nami. Lo assi lechalek.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


54. Don't forget the social status     2/7/07 - 12:08 AM
Anonymous

M - in "Europe", social growth wasn't an issue as it is today. Having an older boy together with younger ones will in most cases be a disaster (socially and eventually academically) for the older boy.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


55. Work in the right direction     2/13/07 - 5:57 AM
Nechama - Israel

Why do we care about changing the school system, when it's really not within our abilities to do so? It appears to me that most people would like to change the school system for the sake of their own child, or to correct the memory of their own difficult youth.

To protect other people's children? We can't. However the school systems are structured, there are always going to be kids that suffer because of them. Because of the teacher's personality, lack of parenting, or simply different style.

Remember the story of the person who tried to change the world but eventually realized that the only person he could change was himself?

We too cannot change the school systems - too many people are involved, too many people who, for reasons beyond their control, eg their own parenting, or finances, cannot change the system.

It's really from Hashem.

Change might come, but I doubt overnight, and we all have to survive until then.

A list and details of teaching resources would of course be most welcome for aspiring teachers and parents to teach better - but only if they *want* to, of course. Knowledge and skills can always be upped.

Yet although I think it is a waste of energy to try to demand change in the school system, we can still make other changes.

We can help our own children, by getting to know them, understanding the schooling that they are going through, and tweaking it so that it is fits the individual personality of the child.

There are a lot of naughty things you can do to help your child if it gets too tough for them! There are also wonderful skills you yourself can teach the child.

"Why should I? It's the school's job to teach the children!" This smacks of the Yetzer Hara, and of laziness, but really it's also just not smart! Recognize reality! Is the school going to help your child or not? If not - and you care about your child - do it yourself!


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


56.     2/13/07 - 6:11 PM
tb

Nechama: In America, your child is in school for a minimum of 8 hours a day. Older boys spend even more hours a day there. I always tell parents to spend an entire day in their child's class, no skipping out at all except for recess. Then they would better understand how important the child's school experience is in the development of their self esteem. We owe it to our children to try to make positive changes in that environment in addition to helping them cope with things they cannot change. Hashem wants us to make our Hishtadlus in this world. We can make changes if we organize and have the right lay leaders approach our Gedolim. Changes can be made in the Chareidi world if they are top down.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


57. What R' Weinberg has to say     2/28/07 - 3:36 PM
M

Rabbi Horowitz: Have you seen the book, "Rav Yaakov Weinberg talks about chinuch"? (late rosh yeshiva of Ner Israel)

I'd be interested in hearing your comments on his response to question #35 in this book which was whether 5,6, 7 year olds learning Chumash should be taught skills (such as analyzing roots and studying the grammar).

I'll try to sum it up with some excerpts. Rav Weinberg says that Torah and chochma are two entirely different things and therefore all the experiences, judgements, experiments and conclusions that may be correct about secular education have utterly no relevance to a Torah education.

Isn't that astounding?

He goes on to say that a Jewish child into whose mind the words "bereishis bara" have entered is now capable of doing things that he was incapable of doing before. it has an effect on his potential understanding and on her potentiall feelings. This is not so with math, civics, English, or any chochma where it is true only to the extent that the talmidim understand what you are presenting to them. In Torah, says Rav Weinberg, even if they do not understand a word you are teaching them, they and their potential will have been literally changed.

He says there is no mesorah for analyzing pesukim so do not do it. To the degree to which you will teach them language and grammar is the degree to which you will divert them from learning Torah! I do not care, says Rav Weinberg, what arguments ae presented; they are going to come from secular logic that will apply properly to secular topics but have no relevance of any kind to the teaching of Torah.

cont. in next comment


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


58. continued from previous comment     2/28/07 - 3:56 PM
M

Rav Weinberg says that Torah has it own forces, energies, and methodology of transmission and you are going to discover it from within the Torah, not from any psychology or experiences of the secular world. This is not mysticism, he says, but the reality of Torah.

All Torah is a gift from Hashem, and gifts from Hashem do not come by secular methodologies. They will work in English and biology but not in limudei kodesh.

Therefore, says Rav Weinberg, stuffing a child with words that he does not understand will make that child know Torah... If you just give him the words, they are a kinyan olam, it is the girsa d'yankusa on a niyar chadash that he will remember forever.

When you teach Chumash, teach Chumash. But when you teach Rashi, you can teach language and also make an analytical point.

Should the children know what the words of Chumash mean? Rav Weinberg said secular logic is to get them to understand it. From the Torah's point of view, it is more important to "learn up".

Likewise with Gemara, Rav Weinberg was asked whether they should cover ground or work on getting the boys to understand it. He says for 18-19 year old boys, understanding is important. For younger boys, he says the exposure to more words of Gemara is far more important!

He says if a young boy learns 50 blatt Gemara, he will have fifty blatt Gemara. He thinks this is far superior to his learning fifty sevaros. He says when the boy is 16 he will catch the 50 sevaros in 1/50 the time that it took when he was younger.

Until their minds are open (late teens) you need to "safi lei keturah" (Kesubos 50a), stuff the words and push in as much as you can because every page of Gemara that you have taught them will enable them to learn any sugya differently, with greater understanding and ability.

Rav Weinberg is talking about translating the words and giving over the correct peshat while not taking them through the steps by which you arrived at it.

Rabbi Horowitz - I wish you'd see his answers in their entirety and then comment. I have to say it's not entirely clear to me what Rav Weinberg is negating and what he is promoting when it comes to understanding a pasuk of Chumash. I wish he gave specific examples of what yes and what not to do. Perhaps you attended some of his Q and A sessions yourself and could explain because at first reading, it sounds like he is negating your emphasis on acquiring skills yet in a later Q and A he says the most important thing to acquire in elementary school is the ability to translate.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


59. R' Moshe's explanation     4/15/07 - 10:34 AM
M

R' Fried (of CHUSH) related the following:

At a recent Torah Umesorah convention, R' Reuven Feinstein told an anecdote that took place in a yeshiva years ago. The incident greatly troubled him. A bachur had borrowed a small tape recorder from a friend and while he played around with it, i.e. swung it by its handle, it became detached from the handle and flew into a wall where it was smashed by the impact.

When his friend asked him to pay for the tape recorder, the borrower said it was an accident and he was not required to pay.

R' Reuven was troubled by the bachur's response because the yeshiva was then learning Perek HaMafkid, the chapter in the Gemara that speaks of the liabilities of a borrower (amongst others) and it is clearly stated that a borrower is liable even for a totally unexpected accidental damage to the object he borrows.

Why did the bochur fail to apply this clear principle to his own situation? R' Reuven asked his father, R' Moshe.

R' Moshe answered that the boys probably had their first exposure to Gemara in mesechta Brachos (rather than Nezikin), which speaks of the various time constraints on saying Shema and Tefila (Shmone Esrei) and that since these time strictures are often not strictly adhered to in the shuls, they had come to look at what the Gemara says as theory that need not necessarily be taken seriously in its application to life.

(when R' Reuven subsequently investigated, he found it to indeed be so)


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


60.     10/23/07 - 9:50 AM
M

Kids don’t drop out in 10th grade. They fall behind in the fifth and sixth grades. And they never catch up.

How does this article mesh with your more recent "Running Out of Time" article? Are the calls you are getting about 13-14 year olds being mechalel Shabbos and eating on Yom Kippur coming fom parents of children who missed out on skills in earlier years?


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


61.     10/23/07 - 1:41 PM
yoni

M, he is talking about two entirely different subgroups, on two opposite ends of the spectrum.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


62. Rabbi Horowitz?     10/24/07 - 9:57 AM
M

Opposite ends because the kids he writes about in this article missed out on skills while in the other article he writes that they are doing fine academically?

Rabbi Horowitz - can we hear your comment?


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


63. Zilberman method     10/29/07 - 10:58 PM
E.L.

This is my first time writing so I am not quite sure of the proper protocol for this forum. I am looking for a Zilberman style yeshiva in Brooklyn (there are currently schools in Lakewood, Toronto?, Balitimore? and a new one in LA)Perhaps, we can start one if we have enough interest right here in Brooklyn.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


64. Off The Derech     3/10/09 - 3:45 PM
BHW - Bklyn,NY

I have had experience with more than one son "at risk"-off the derech. It is true that 2 of them had learning disabilities that were not correctly addressed. They did have evaluations and tutoring which did not necessarily accomplish what was needed. They both basically went from Yeshiva to yeshiva. We were asked to take them out of yeshivas many times; we were offered no help in finding new yeshivas. Sometimes, we sent them to the next place just because they were accepted, not because it was the best choice. We went through many hard times.(an understatement.) One son wound up in a yeshiva out of the country. His reading level in yiddish and English was maybe on a 2nd grade level at age 14 1/2. He was away for 5 years. He didn't accomplish much for awhile, (it was sort of expensive babysitting). I am makir tov for that because he was treated with unconditional love and respect. He was given encouragement and eventually at age 16, he finally buckled down and learned to learn. He saw that he wouldn't be thrown out. He made many siyumim-which I feel makes a bochur feel accomplished-he received rewards for his achievements-a stereo, etc. He also came home with his high school diploma! He worked very hard and felt accomplished and proud! My other son was out of school by age 15 and not living at home. We always treated him with unconditional love. He did whatever he wanted, his motto was -I'll try anything once! Then he got stuck with drugs and got addicted. He finally was maskim to go to a proper rehab at age 19 1/2. Recovery is a very hard job, a lifetime job. An addict is only called recovered after 120 years. During his lifetime, he is called since he is constantly working to stay that way. Chasdai Hashem, today, this son of mine is learning in a yeshiva (and loving it!). He is also helping other boys with his experiences. He has sent several boys to rehab too. He is catching up. He says that there are 3 types of bochurim today. The ones who have a rebbe or rosh yeshiva they follow so that they stay on the right path. Then you have kids like him who go off at age 15. The third type are the ones who go off after they finish mesivta. My son's experiences have brought out the best in him. If he didn't fall so low, he might have still been running from place to place and trying new things. Today, this formerly rash boy stops and thinks before he takes a step. He deliberates many times to make sure he is doing the right thing. His rebbe calls him a ben Torah. He is a tremendous baal emunah. B"H, we are granted nachas from these boys! Now, I have a 16 year old bochur who is brilliant. Through elementary school he was successful and popular. As mesivta rolled around, I was terrified. We started out in the mesivta of his choice and he found it too pressured. The next year, he went to a little less demanding mesivta, and I couldn't get him up to go. He used to leave the house at 2:00 pm to go for a few hours. This year we had to change him to an out of town, non pressured yeshiva with a rough crowd. Because he's so bright, he couldn't sit through the long shiurim where they repeated everything over and over. In this new yeshiva the shiurim time is shorter and they have more breaks. I haven't figured out exactly what his problem is, but he is very fun loving. Right now, having fun with his friends is a priority. The yeshiva is providing a yeshiva framework but taking them to basketball games, skiing, etc. The schedule is relaxed, shacharis is around 9:00 AM. The rebbeyim are very understanding and loving. My son didn't like when people would say how smart he is. He also saw what his brothers were up to before and there's a way to come back. I just hope that he doesn't think that he is smart enough to win the drug game. B"H, he is not off the derech, not rebellious, but lax in his mitzvah observance. I daven constantly that he see what is really important in life and become a yerai shomayim. May Hashem send the final yeshua b'karov!


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


65.     3/11/09 - 3:53 PM
Anonymous

Sorry to hear of your tzaar gidul banim.

"An addict is only called recovered after 120 years."

Only if you believe 12 Steppers who convince you that you are a lifelong (recovering) addict. Not a healthy self-image, in my opinion. The true definition of "recovered" means you no longer do drugs, you no longer drink to excess, etc.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


66. Response     3/11/09 - 4:47 PM
BHW - Bklyn

The 12 steps are a way of building one's self image. One gives his will over to Hashem and involves Hashem in every aspect of his life. My son has never been happier and more accomplished. He has a very comfortable image of himself right now. We could all really use the 12 steps to help us. There are many people out there who have used drugs or alcohol but are not addicted. Addiction is a disease. An alcoholic cannot just drink a bit. One drink leads to another. Rabbi A. Twersky deals with alcoholics and writes about them. I don't believe a true alcoholic can drink minimally.

My son has many friends who relapsed.(after 11 years, after 6 years, etc.) Some of them are not around anymore. If people work on their 12 steps and have a support system, then they have what to fall back on when the urge strikes. When aperson stops working on himself, he is more prone to relapse.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


67.     3/11/09 - 7:15 PM
Anonymous

I know the philosophy and disagree with it. I wish your son hatzlacha.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


68. 12 steps and self-esteem     3/11/09 - 9:13 PM
Anonymous

"Only if you believe 12 Steppers who convince you that you are a lifelong (recovering) addict. Not a healthy self-image, in my opinion."

Why is that an unhealthy self-image? To be faced with a major challenge and find the internal strength, self-respect, perseverence, and commitment to scale the same threatening mountain every single day till 120 is the essence of victory over the yetzer horoh. Without self-esteem, this spiritual battle cannot possibly be waged, let alone won.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


69.     3/12/09 - 7:06 AM
Anonymous

I would think it would be self-evident why it is not healthy to think of oneself as ill when one is healthy. If anybody is interested in reading more about this, and is actually open to hearing a different view (12 Steppers are told that any other view constitutes denial), there are books on the subject such as, "The Diseasing of America" by Peele,"Nobody's Victim - Freedom from Therapy and Recovery" by McCullough and "I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional" by Wendy Kaminer. And there are others like "A Nation of Victims" and "The Myth of Mental Illness" and "the Real 13th Step" and "Beyond Recovery" etc.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


70. 69     3/12/09 - 7:41 AM
Anonymous

"I would think it would be self-evident why it is not healthy to think of oneself as ill when one is healthy"

I view this discussion as an exercise in semantics. The labels are irrelevant; it's how ple feel and live that matter. Anyone who escapes the grip of an addiction to lead a productive, assertive, 'normal' lifestyle would tell you that they experience an inner strength and 'health' because of--rather than in spite of--the inner work they exerted to battle their challenge.

That they continue to resist the temptations borne of the ongoing addiction testifies to an admirable level of self-esteem and mental health--perhaps one that even surpasses that of us so-called 'normal' pple.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


71.     3/12/09 - 1:35 PM
Anonymous

Perhaps if you were willing to see another viewpoint, you would try one of those books and see that semantics is not what this is about.

As R' Z. Wallerstein put it (you can hear his lecture on torahanytime.com the one called "Getting Out of the Quicksand"), if you stop drinking (or doing drugs) you are a new person. Like when we do teshuva, we are a new person (a "beriya chadasha"). A person who ate treif and did teshuva is not a "recovering treif-food-eater". The point is, we need to move on. Yes, there is a concept of "chatasi negdi samid" and we have to take care, but at the same time, we need to view ourselves as good, healthy people who start every day with a new start in life, not saddled with the sins or addictions of our past. It's about moving forward, not being shackled to our past, certainly not to a lifelong sentence of (a fake)illness.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


72. Chazal, Daas Torah and the Future Direction of Limud HaTorah and Chinuch     9/16/09 - 5:50 PM
Steve Brizel - Flushing, New York - Zeliglaw@aol.com

One can only wonder why our yeshivos, whether of a MO or Charedi hashkafic orientation, start Talmud in a manner that contradicts the view of Chazal in a Mishnah in Avos. I have seen the view as advocated by R Dessler ZT"L that there is a comment in a Sifrei or a Medrash that 1,000 enter a Beis Medrash and only one emerges worthy of being a Baal Horaah. Yet, one can ask whether the latter statement was an observation or a statement of educational objectives and policy.

The fact that our present system ignores the middle of the road student and has little, if any place, for a challenged system, and cherishes the 1/1000 ratio should be on our communal agenda.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


73. gteaching gemara to beginners.     9/16/09 - 8:56 PM
Rabbi DW - Staten Island - rabbidw@cs.com

Rabbi Horowitz, bemichals kavod, I believe your analogy stacked the deck. Try this. If you are teaching Julius Caesar, do you want to spend 60 hours on the first act? Maybe in grad school. Do you want to spend 60 hours on the entire play? Maybe in college. Or do you want to spend 10-15 hours on the play. That is how you teach it in the 9th and 10th grade.

Beginning gemara should be exciting and FUN. Vocabulary lists are neither. Would anyone require vocabulary tests for an adult gemara class? So why do we do it for the kids? We cover so little ground that the excitement of the gemara is lost. I still come across words in English which I only understand in context ( especially when I read an essay by Bill Buckley) We must give the students enough pages so the thinking of the gemara, its patterns of thinking, its questions and answers become clear.

What age to start? My 9 year old grandson just finished a book on astrophysics written by the world famous Stgephen Hawking and his daughter. My oint is that things can be taught at many different levels, and there is nothing wrong with starting gemara in 5th grade, if it is taught appropriately. The problem is that many of the rebbeim in elementary school want to be rashei Yeshivot and will, at the drop of a black hat, "Tell over" a delightful bit of Brisker Torah, a shiur from yhr Rov, or their Rosh Yeshiva, to the dumbfounded class of 6th and 7th graders, who have absolutely no idea of what their rebbe is talking about, but are assured that this is "real learning" It may be "real learning" to the guys in the beis medrash, but to them, at their level, it is real nonsense, guaranteed to be a turnoff.

I learned 40-50 blatt in both the 7th and 8th grade. My son just finished High School and has not learned 50 blatt total throght 12th grade. I remember beginning with eilu mitziyos and how the gemara began with a series of questions on Abaye's position, Abaye refuted every question and suddenly turned on Rava and staged a winning counterattack. I am using that language deliberately, because that is tha combat that boys love, even if it is intellectual. That is FUN.

There are some that may never be able to move on to Iyun, but that is fine. There is nothing wrong with staying with bekiyus. That is the principal of Daf Yomi. For those of a more intellectual bent, there is time for the brisker derech, the chafetz chayim derech, when they reach the beis medrash. IMHO no one should do more than gemara and rashi through 7th grade. In 8th grade the rebbe can begin to throw in an occasional Tosfos.

Cover ground! get the questions and answers. See how the gemara flows. Get a feel for the vocabulary. Follow the arguments. Have fun with the gemara. Telling stories is always fun, but it is not gemara. The message you are sending? Gemara is dull and tasteless, but to spice it up, we will tell some stories. Chas V'shalom!! Gemara is fun and challenging and if the principal and the teacher cannot make it so then either the proincipal or teacher may have to be replaced. A 6th grade rebbe does not have to be a brilliant talmid chacham. He has to be a skilled and enthusiastic teacher. I wonder if we do not have rebbeim who are unskilled and unenthusiastic talmidei chachamim.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


74.     9/16/09 - 10:34 PM
Benzion Twerski

There are numerous differences between the simply translated statements about the derech of limud and chinuch and the patterns which we observe as nearly universal. The questions asked in the last comment #72 deserve answers. However, be aware that there is precedent for this – no chiddush here. Allow me to quote the Maharal of Prague (in two places – towards the end of his Drush Al HaTorah, and again in Derech Chaim on Avos on the mishna of “ben chomesh lamikro”).

He appeals to the population listening to his drush to daven that Hashem should forgive him for having followed the path that was prevalent in his day in both Sephardic and Ashkenazik communities that children began learning mishna and gemora far earlier than stated in the mishna. He stated that our Chazal were smarter than we are, and they knew humanity far better than the best of us. He goes on to direct his community to follow Chazal literally. Yet, it took some pioneers with guts to open a few yeshivos that do what we were all instructed to do.

As long as I am here, it is worth repeating a message that was subject of debate in earlier comments, though many are dated. Addicts (to whatever) enter recovery as a lifelong process, and are never recovered. The recovering person who does the program well still has challenges that he/she must handle. With a good grip on recovery, the tools get implemented. The chatosi negdi somid is a useful way to approach life. However, this is not the same as walking the walks of life with the feeling that one is handicapped. On the contrary, one is stronger with the knowledge of one’s own weaknesses. One can eat healthier with the awareness of which foods are allergens. It is about having non-stop awareness of one’s assets and liabilities.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


75. re Rabbi DW     9/17/09 - 12:36 PM
anonymousfornow

I write this as a woman with an involved, ben Torah of a husband so I'm just an innocent bystander.

Before starting mishnayos the kids were given flashcards with basics, I think before gemara too. Am I missing something or isn't this productive prep? From what I've seen and heard, yes, there are a lot of rebbeim who feel they like they "could have been contenders" and are not giving the boys what they need. What they need, IMO, is basic skills and a bren for further learning. One feeds off the other. They will have the enthusiasm and good attitude with the proper prep, and that does include an understanding that this isn't always easy. That's what ameilus b'Torah is. But it should be satisfying. Maybe not all the time but enough of the time.

An older mother told me that given the option she would put her son in the lower class because that was the one that gave other the skills and the bren.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


76. Preparation     9/17/09 - 4:22 PM
Bob Miller

While we can dispute how much preparation is needed for successful Gemara study, we should all accept that preparation is needed, as for any rigorous intellectual endeavor. We as Jews have the extra Siyata D'Shmaya to help us along, but we should not foolishly discount the need for structured language study (including such study in parallel with Gemara study). Also, Ramchal wrote works on logic which are also helpful in focusing and enhancing Gemara study. Maybe someone here would say that logic needs no formal study, but Ramchal clearly thought differently.


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


77. Rabbi Horowitz hits the nail on the head, as usual     11/20/13 - 2:52 PM
Binyamin Bauman

The Lubavitcher Rebbe made some related observations and comments:

"...Having raised this point, I will take this opportunity to alert the public about the fact that in yeshivah circles it has not been customary to learn the “Rules of Talmudic Study”; not knowing the rules, questions such as the previous one may pop up.

My teachers also did not teach me the “Rules of Talmudic Study,” which I first saw in the Vilna Shas, at the end of tractate Berachos, several years after I was already learning on my own. When I perused the rules I found that in addition to outlining the well-known rules of Talmud, e.g., “In a dispute between R. Yehudah and R. Meir the halachah follows R. Yehudah” or, “The halachah is according to Shmuel in monetary matters,” etc., they also outline the approach to proper and systematized study, which should be taught as an introduction to Talmud study. Sorry to say, no attention is given to this.

When I searched for an explanation as to why these rules are not studied in the yeshivos I was given two answers: (1) “They are printed at the end of tractate Berachos, which laymen study. It is not one of the traditional yeshivah tractates.” (2) “We rely on the clear thinking of the students to find the right way to study. Why teach rules which were not made at the time of the Talmud?

Well, reality catches up with us, you see the results of not teaching the Rules of Study; it brings ignorance in the proper logical structure of a question."

http://www.sichosinenglish.org/books/sichos-in-english/25/06.htm

  Rate & Write a Comment!
Dear Readers:

Please visit our Parenting Resource listing to learn about agencies and services that you can make use of. If you know of an agency that can be of assistance to others, kindly drop an email to our site administrator at admin@RabbiHorowitz.com and pass along the information to him.

I ask that you please consider supporting the work we are doing to improve the lives of our children. Click on these links to learn more about our teen and parent mentoring program that serves hundreds of teens and their families, or our KESHER program, now in 20 schools in 4 states. Your financial support can allow us to expand these services and help more children.

If you believe in the governing principles of this website – to help effect positive change through the candid discussions of the real issues we collectively face, please consider becoming a daily, weekly or monthly sponsor of this website and help defray the costs of it’s maintenance.



Working with Families and Educators on Behalf of our Children

This site is managed by The Center for Jewish Family Life, Inc., 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey, NY 10952
Project Y.E.S. was founded by Agudath Israel of America
The Center for Jewish Family Life/Project YES - 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey, NY 10952 (845) 352-7100 ext. 114 Fax: (845) 352-9593
email: email@kosherjewishparenting.com


Advertisements