Rabbi Gershon Avtzon: Can You Define Chinuch “On One Foot”?



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    Rabbi Gershon Avtzon: Can You Define Chinuch “On One Foot”?

    Question: I know that what I am about to ask may not be possible as it over-simplifies a very complicated issue. But I’m a very simple and straightforward person, so I ask like the convert that came to Hillel HaZaken: What would you say is the basis and most fundamental part of chinuch? • Full Article

    Question: I know that what I am about to ask may not be possible as it over-simplifies a very complicated issue. But I’m a very simple and straightforward person, so I ask like the convert that came to Hillel HaZaken: What would you say is the basis and most fundamental part of chinuch?

    Answer: While I am not by any means “Hillel HaZaken,” if — after extensive research into the Rebbe’s letters of education — I would have to bring out one point which would be the basis of successful education, it would be expressed in to two words: Dugma Chaya — being living example of the education that you would like to impart to your children and students.

    The following are a few of the many letters that express this sentiment:

    (1) “The best influence that one can have on students and their own children, is — not as much as speaking to them (even) many times — [but] through showing a living example of that behavior.  When we want to demand one hundred percent from another person, we must add to that hundred percent in ourselves.” (Igros, Vol. 19 p. 88; #7113)

    Speak From The Heart 

    (2) In the summer of 5723 (1963), there was a young man in Toronto named Mr. Refoel Shraga, who wanted advice from the Rebbe on how to influence a certain teenager. The Rebbe responded: 

    “In general, it is self-understood that much depends on the prior knowledge and personality of the individual that you would like to have a positive influence on. Thus, it would be a good idea to speak to those that know that individual on a personal level. It is also rather superfluous to mention what our sages tell us about the importance of the words coming from the heart, entering the heart of the other individual. One of the main things is to be a living example of proper conduct, which has greater influence than any words being spoken.” (Igros, Vol. 22 p. 482; #8655).

    “A Student is Satisfied With a Fraction of What His mentor Does”

    (3) On Chanukah 5747 (1986), the days preceding the famous “Didan Notzach” legal ruling, the Rebbe encouraged that everyone should get involved in spreading light and that everyone should turn their private homes a place of Torah, Tefilla and Gemilas Chassadim. The Rebbe added:

    “Those who must influence others in these matters should keep in mind an important principle. A student usually is satisfied to perform a fraction of what he sees his mentor do. Thus, if you want your students and followers to carry this act out to the fullest degree you must set a vibrant and enthusiastic, living example of acting many times better than the conduct that you would like your students to follow. Only that way will you see success.” (Likkutei Sichos Vol. 25; page 418).

    How Much More So An Educator

    (4) In 5726 (1966), a young woman was going to teach in a Chabad outreach school. She wrote the Rebbe for a bracha in her shlichus. The Rebbe answered her two important points: (a) Torah has promised that those that come to become pure — and the Alter Rebbe explains that it includes those who are looking to purify others — Hashem helps them. (b) “Yagata umatzasa —  if you work hard, you will succeed”…It is superfluous to add that if every frum Jew needs to be a living example of a Jew that acts according to the ways of Torah, how much more so an educator.” (Igros volume 24 page 225 # 9214).

    The Moshiach Connection

    When we think of the role of Melech Hamoshiach, we think of someone that will bring positive change to the world and will encourage everyone to follow the ways of the Torah. 

    While this is of course true, the first of the simanim that the Rambam enumerates to identify Moshiach is his personal dedication and living example to Torah and Mitzvos. 

    In the words of the Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 11:4): “If a king will arise from the House of David who diligently contemplates the Torah and observes its mitzvos as prescribed by the Written Law and the Oral Law as David, his ancestor.” 

    Look at the way the Rebbe influenced the world and you will understand this.

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    Click here to Watch: “Don’t separate yourself from the Tzibbur”

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    Rabbi Gershon Avtzon: Can You Define Chinuch “On One Foot”?



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