Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Words of Wisdom- Educating our children to the beauty of Torah

As a teacher and student, I’ve walked down more than my fair share of school hallways. I’ve seen hallways with pictures of great rabbis, educational posters, and photographs of beautiful scenes from nature. Last night, at a wedding, which took place at a yeshiva in Lakewood, I saw something in a school hallway that I’ve never seen before. On one side of a long hallway, opposite pictures of gedolim, there were framed facsimiles of old pashkvilim from Israel.

Anyone who has spent time in Israel has seen posters known as pashkvilim hanging in charedi neighborhoods. Pashkvilim are posters of a religious nature which generally are used to try and enforce appropriate religious behavior. They might discuss proper religious attire for the neighborhood, or mark certain activities or locations as off-limits.

As I looked over the various posters, I wondered who had decided that this was something to use to decorate a yeshiva. Sure, they were historically interesting, but what educational message was given when hanging posters that either banned so many activities, or forbade entry to so many places? Is the idea that Judaism is about assering things an educational message that our children need to hear?

There was one poster that caught my eye. It set a minimal price limit for eggs (six for a grush). An explanation was given that this limit was there to protect the poor people of Yerushalayim. Now this was a poster that had educational value. Imagine if the hallway showed in various ways, the message of deracheha darchei noam. Along with a poster like this showing gedolim using their power to help the poor, there could be other pictures and posters emphasizing the idea that Torah can and should be a driving force for kindness and goodness.

I didn’t recognize all of the gedolim whose pictures lined the other walls, but among those who I did know, were Rav Moshe, Rav Yaakov and Rav Shlomo Zalman, who were pictured with their characteristic smiles. If one indeed wants to hang posters with the words of chachamim in the yeshiva (leaving aside the educational question of whether this is a good idea), wouldn’t it be better to hang posters with the words of these and other chachamim that show the boys of the yeshiva the teshuvos and divrei Torah of Toras Chessed koach d’heteira adif  that these great men produced and represented? This is not to deny the fact that there are prohibitions in the Torah, and  some things that are off-limits. Still at a time when so much is banned and forbidden, it behooves us to show our children (and selves)  the beauty that Torah represents.

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