Levi Liberow, Beis Moshiach
Herbert Weiner a”h, a reform rabbi in his past, wrote in his book Nine-and-a-half Mystics, about a Yechidus he had with the Rebbe. At the Yechidus, he asked the Rebbe about the “oversimplification” of his Chassidim:
“I pressed my question from another angle and told him that … as a matter of fact … all his Hasidim seemed to have one thing in common: a sort of open and naive look in their eyes that a sympathetic observer might call t’mimut (purity) but that might less kindly be interpreted as emptiness or simple-mindedness, the absence of inner struggle.
“…The Rebbe showed no resentment. He leaned forward. “What you see missing from their eyes is a kera!”
“A what?” I asked.
“Yes, a kera,” he repeated quietly, “a split.” The Rebbe hesitated for a moment. “I hope you will not take offense, but something tells me you don’t sleep well at night, and this is not good for ‘length of days.’ Perhaps if you had been raised wholly in one world or in another, it might be different. But this split is what comes from trying to live in two worlds.”
Last week we discussed how problematic it is to try to fit Hashem into logic and make everything explainable.
This discussion is not just a philosophical one. The different approaches discussed represent differing methods of chinuch, which ultimately very much affect how much our children will love being Jewish and following the path of their ancestors.
There used to be a derech of avoiding conflicts of logic vs. faith, but most would agree that the world in this generation of Moshiach is a world of Da’as and understanding. Leaving the sechel out of emunah is not an option anymore, certainly not according to the Chabad way. We must , therefore, address the quest for understanding.
But from here, the road splits on how to do it:
Some take the apologetic path, which bends faith to reason. There is a notion of “we must answer everything and not leave anything off the table.”
This approach breeds from the same fear that logic is so strong and powerful a force that “if you can’t fight it, join it” to create a perfectly explainable and logical Yiddishkeit. But what are the chances of a featherweight wrestler to win a heavyweight opponent to whom he had already conceded?
I once saw a book written by a self-declared machzir b’teshuva, that promises on its cover “100% logical and scientific proof that there is Creator to this world and that the Torah is true.” The book itself was very poorly written, in my opinion, and not scientific by any standard. And besides, how can science prove anything 100%?
The results of this path, in which children and youth are subtly told that everything is explainable, is that they grow up confident that every question deserves an answer. If one convincing enough isn’t provided to them, those youth will go search for logic elsewhere, because their very own educators espoused the merit of logic over faith.
I’m not saying that there aren’t good answers. There certainly are, and when a perplexed individual has questions, they can and must be addressed. But that is the exception, not the rule.
Someone raised that way is being put in harm’s way from the get-go. It’s like giving a child a box of matches and expecting him to be safe with them.
The second approach is simply placing logic where it belongs: below and in the service of faith, and above instinct.
Children and youth must be taught not the flaws of logic — we want them to be thinkers, and we want them to use their brains — but the limits of logic.
They must be taught that there are additional and better ways to perceive reality: there is kedushah, there is nevuah, and there are tzaddikim which are all things that surpass logic, by being close to, or coming from, the Creator of logic.
When you take a child growing up in one world, without a kera, and you throw him into another world, in which everything is explainable and must be so, you create that “tear” in his mind and heart, which only causes suffering and anguish.
By contrast, raising a child with confidence in his path — confidence not subject to changes as a logic based confidence would be — is only possible when the premise is Emunah and an understanding that logic is a creation just as much as a tomato is.
Raising children with wholesome Emunah in Hashem and His Torah without continually feeling a need to “prove” to them its truth, establishes a generation of happy, healthy, and well-balanced boys and girls, confident and proud to walk the path of Yisrael Sava.
They are mentally prepared to hear questions and try to answer them, and when they cannot, to not have their entire inner world shaken to the core.
What some people call naivete, we are proud to just call self-confidence.
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