The Rebbe’s Guidelines For a Chassidishe Vocational School



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    The Rebbe’s Guidelines For a Chassidishe Vocational School

    I’m not a mashpia or an educator, but care deeply about the young boys going through the Yeshiva system. I have many of them over for Shabbos and there seems to be a significant amount of boys that simply can’t learn all day. Would the Rebbe agree for there to be a Chassidic trade school opened up? If yes, what would be the guidelines? Have there ever been people that received an answer from the Rebbe to leave Yeshiva and go to a trade school? • Read More

    Question: I’m not a mashpia or an educator, but care deeply about the young boys going through the Yeshiva system. I have many of them over for Shabbos and there seems to be a significant amount of boys that simply can’t learn all day. Would the Rebbe agree for there to be a Chassidic trade school opened up? If yes, what would be the guidelines? Have there ever been people that received an answer from the Rebbe to leave Yeshiva and go to a trade school?

    Answer: You bring up a very important topic in general and very specific questions in particular. There is a lot to “unpack” here, so I will try to go in steps:

    A disclaimer before I continue: these are just some of the written answers of the Rebbe. I have heard that there were other answers (In Yechidus or over the phone), but I was not able to verify.

    (1) A Chassidishe Trade School:

    In 5712 (1952), the Joint Distribution Committee was funding Yeshivos that had opened a trade-school division of their Yeshiva. They offered the funding to the Lubavitcher Yeshiva in Lod and the administration said that they would need to ask the Rebbe before they considered such a move.

    The Rebbe responded: “It is impossible to change the set-up of Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim, anywhere in the world, from the way that our Rebbeim set it up.Thus, you can’t add courses that would teach a trade to the official Chabad Yeshiva. On the other hand, there are many students that — for whatever reason — can’t learn a full day in yeshiva but would be agreeable to learn a few hours if they could also learn a trade.”

    “The solution is to open a separate institution, under the auspices and guidance of the administration of Tomchei Temimim, that would teach a few hours of Nigleh and Chassidus and also a trade. It is certain that such an institution would bring much benefit to specific young students.” (Igros, Vol. 5 p. 84; #1297)

    (2) The Guidelines:

    In 5714 (1954), the Rebbe wrote a list of guidelines for this new type of institution:

    The mossad must be [ran] in the spirit of Lubavitch.
    There should be more time allotted for Torah study than the time allotted to learn a trade.
    The Torah study should take place in the morning, before they study to learn a trade, and afterwards as well.
    It should include the learning of Chassidus in the morning and evening.
    It should be clear that the main objective is the Torah study and the studying of a trade is secondary and not the opposite.
    The hanhalla should take a proactive approach to address the potential negative result of opening of such an institution i.e. that students that could learn Torah a whole day will choose to go to this institution instead.
    (Igros, Vol. 9 p. 115; #2729)

    (3) Advice to individuals about attending a frum trade school:

    (a) “In response to what you wrote to me about your brother (who is struggling in yeshiva): I seem to recall writing to you in the past — and I have already spoken with your mother — that you should not be disturbed if he ends up being a “Zevulun” (a frum businessman) that supports Torah and has personal daily learning sessions. We don’t always know what the right place for each person in this world (i.e., his mission) and being that your brother already tried so hard to learn but it has proven too difficult, maybe the right approach would be for him to learn a trade in a frum trade school where they also learn Torah for a few hours a day.” (Igros, Vol. 21 p. 443; #8200).

    (b) “Concerning what you write that your son is not successful in his learning in Yeshiva; understably, he should learn a trade, preferably in a trade school where they also learn Torah. [It is self-understood that he should not go to a public school where there are non-Jews and also mixed (boys and girls) classes etc.].If you have a local option, close to home, it is preferable as you would be able to be more in touch to help in adjust etc. (Likkutei Sichos Vol. 24 p. 244).

    The Moshiach Connection:

    The Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 12:4) acknowledges that challenges of being able to completely focus on one’s learning in the time of galus and describes what our sages anticipated in the times of Moshiach:

    “The Sages and the prophets did not yearn for the Messianic era in order to have dominion over the entire world, to rule over the gentiles, to be exalted by the nations, or to eat, drink, and celebrate. Rather, they desired to be free to involve themselves in Torah and wisdom without any pressures or disturbances, so that they would merit the world to come.”

    When children are taught the proper approach to Torah vs. trade, i.e., that the trade is secondary, it helps them develop a Geuladike outlook on life — that their need for a trade or vocation is not who they truly are, rather they are boys who hope for a time that they can spend all day in learning and spiritual pursuits.

    (Photo: mayanot.edu)

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