Who would ever imagine seeing
clean shaven young men, women and girls insensitive to laws of tznius, etc. – in
our very own community! How can we nip this in the bud?
"Basi l’gani achosi kalla – I came to my
garden, my sister, my bride." As we approach the holy day of Yud Shevat, these
divine words reverberate in our minds and our souls. For with these words the
Rebbe MH"M stated his and our mission, and opened the pathway to the days of
We live in Hashem’s garden and our task is to nurture the
garden in such a way that it becomes, and remains, holy and pure. In a garden
there are beautiful plants of all colors and sizes, each requiring individual
care. Each seed, as it begins to sprout, must be carefully guarded from any
weeds and foliage that may threaten or hinder its blossoming to its fullest
potential. As the Rebbe has taught us repeatedly of the vital need to tend to a
seed at its earliest stages, for a small scratch on the seed may cause a defect
later in its full-grown state. How much more so the splendor of the mature plant
is dependant on the perfection of the seed.
With this in mind, we must ask ourselves: how are we tending
to the Rebbe’s special garden, his Tzivos Hashem, Hashem’s precious army,
specifically, His children?
As parents, educators, community members, or occasional
visitors in Crown Heights – no matter what category we may place ourselves in –
we must take serious partnership in the education given to our children. Why the
term education? Simply because a childworld is deeply affected not only by what
is instilled in him/her at home or in school, but most definitely is impacted by
his/her general environment and everyday contacts, etc.
These little souls are seeking for the proper Yiddishe
and Chassidishe guidance. All youth come to a point when they say, "I
want to be just like so and so!" That "so and so" could very well be you, and
they won’t necessarily be coming to ask you what to exclude. This warrants
serious self-evaluation. Our actions are a very powerful statement – what
statement are we making?
When the Rebbe Rashab was twenty-seven years old, he wrote
his first will called "Chanoch LaNaar," explaining to his wife, Shterna
Sara, the foundation of education and instructing her how to raise their only
child, the Rebbe Rayatz, with a chinuch of the purest form. The very
first chapter opens as follows:
"Regarding our son, I request that you watch over him in all
areas, both material and spiritual. Nowadays especially, one must be very
vigilant... One must accustom a child to the service of G-d and the actual
performance of mitzvos, as explained above. A child should believe with
an artless faith in the G-d of Israel – that He is One and there is no other;
that He created the world out of naught and absolute nothingness, and conducts
it in accordance with His will, His goodness, and His kindness. In all these
similar matters, one must train and educate a child, without rationalizations or
explanations. Then, "when he grows old," and his intelligence is strong and
capable of pondering these matters, and he is able to confirm their truth with
proofs and logical arguments – "he will not depart from it." Rather, his
belief in G-d and his observance of the mitzvos will be fortified."
Let’s take this home -what is our message to our
youngsters from day one? Do we let our young ones turn on the light switch on
Shabbos for convenience? Do we enroll them in a mixed boy-girl playgroup. If we,
the adults, are giving mixed messages, without a doubt the youth will get that
message all too clear.
Jewish history has set a precedent. When the Maccabees stood
ready to rekindle the menora in the Beis HaMikdash, they were
halachically permitted to use oil that had its seal broken. But they would
not settle for second best; they wanted pure oil. They searched until Hashem was
compelled to perform a miracle and made it so that pure, untainted oil was
accessible to them. Hashem saw a real commitment, an unshakeable sincerity to
fulfill His will without compromises. This is a good question to ask
ourselves: Are we real? Are we determined to give our
children/students/neighbors/friends a message that’s wholesome and unmodified?
All our children are essentially good and want to do good.
Let us be responsive to their need for consistency and genuineness. It is a
matter of saying what we mean, meaning what we say and putting it to action.
* * *
Letter of the Rebbe MH"M – Igros Kodesh volume Chaf-Hei (Free
Greetings and blessings:
I was pleased to receive your letter of the sixth of Tishrei,
in which you write about the effort of you and your friend, in the area of
"chareidi" religious education for immigrant girls – along with a detailed
description of the situation, etc.
Based on the style of your letter, it is surely superfluous
to go on at all length about the importance of girls’ education – for each one
is the daughter of Sara, Rivka, Rachel, and Leah.
And this, too, is essential and important. I see that your
work is devoted specifically to the education of girls, which means that you
preserve the separation of boys and girls, in their education, with all the
necessary strength. An experienced educator surely does not need an explanation
about the utmost importance of such a separation – beginning from the most
For this does not pertain to the obligation of those becoming
bar and bas mitzva; rather, it applies many, many years earlier –
since whatever the little children become accustomed to ultimately becomes their
nature in the years to come, as is obvious.
And since in matters of goodness and holiness we are
commanded to constantly ascend – especially since, in this area, as good as the
situation is at present – there is always room for further improvement. Why is
this so? Because their source is Hashem, and they are connected to Hashem, Who
I strongly hope that each one of you, and all of you
together, will add your effort in this direction, so that your work will deserve
the title Chinuch Charedi ("chareidi" religious education).
This means not to remain satisfied with fulfilling mitzvos – including
the mitzva of chinuch – by rote; rather, it means to fulfill the
mitzvos of Hashem with alacrity, punctiliousness, and joy. All this,
because the work of chinuch, as Chazal say, is Hashem’s work.
Respectfully, and with blessing for good news in all the
above, with wishes for a "chasima and g’mar chasima tova."
[Signature of the Rebbe MH"M]