Da'as Hedyot posted something today which really hit home for me.
It's an issue that I touched on in a previous post, but he really said it far better than I did. Specifically, he talks about how his Yeshiva nearly drove him away from frumkeit. I hit home for me, because mine nearly did the same to me, and many of the issues that he touches upon in his post reflect what happened to me as well.
I find it interesting that it was the Yeshiva itself - the one thing that is supposed to help ensure that we grow up being Shomrei Torah U'Mitzovs - that nearly did us in. It wasn't (at least it wasn't for me) girls, drugs, television, violence, gangs or any of the other "outside influences" that one might expect to drag young men away from a frum lifestyle. It was the Yeshiva itself - simply because I wasn't their ideal student.
That leads us to the question - what is the role and purpose of the Yeshiva in the frum community? It is to produce talmidei chachamim and G'dolei Yisroel? Or is it to teach our children how to learn and how to perform the Mitzvos? And need the two goals be exclusive? In my yeshiva, that seemed to be the case. If one wasn't on the "star track," then one was given the impression that they weren't a good Jew. If you weren't going to learn full-time, then you were just a waste of effort on the Yeshiva's part.
But we have to face reality - not everyone is willing to, or is suited to, full-time learning. There are those of us who are going to grow up to try to be Shomrei Torah U'Mitzvos, but not talmeidi chachamim. We'll go through life doing as well as we can, trying to do better, but just as average people. But the Yeshiva world (at least the one I went to - and by judging the comments on my earlier post on the matter, others as well), we seem to be destined to be "written off." It seems that the Yeshivos are focusing on the "stars" at the expense of everyone else - and it's just plain wrong. The parents of the "stars" don't pay any more tuition than the rest of us. I certainly agree that if a child shows an aptitude in learning and a willingness to continue in it, he should be encouraged to do so and further challanged to do so. But the yeshivas have to be willing to put an effort into the others and not stigmatize them for not being true to themselves.
Good post, Da'as Hedyot. I thank you.