Tuesday, May 26, 2009

These Are "Tough Questions??"

Yeshiva World News has a recording of some questions that were raised at the recent Torah U'Mesorah convention. About a thousand rabbeim, principals and others involved in Torah education got to ask the Roshei Yeshiva questions. What were the burning issues that were discussed? What were the "tough questions" (as indicated by the YWN headline) that were asked?

  • Does a Rebbe taking his class out for a day (such as to play ball on Lag B'Omer) consitute Bittul Torah?
  • Should the "Chinuch Roundtable" columns in the Yated be discontinued?
  • Should a child who has poor reading skills be allowed to be a Chazzan in school?

Now, I don't want to denigrate the questions. The questions asked are certainly valid questions and should be asked. However, I would think that if you have the opportunity to have such esteemed Roshei Yeshiva as Rav Avrohom Chaim Levine Shlita (Rosh Yeshiva Telsh Chicago), Rav Shmuel Kaminetzky Shlita (Rosh Yeshiva Philadelphia), Novaminsker Rebbe Shlita (Rosh Yeshiva Novaminsk) and Rav Aron Feldman Shlita (Rosh Yeshiva Ner Yisroel Baltimore) on hand, you could find far tougher and more important questions to ask. Here are two far tougher questions that I (who, aside from being a parent, is not involved in chinuch) could think of off the top of my head:

  • I suspect that a child in my class may be being abused either at home or by another teacher in the yeshiva. What's the appropriate course of action to take?
  • Under what conditions should I be allowed to ask the menahel to remove a disruptive child from my class? What options do I have to exhaust first before taking that step?
So, what was it? Were the rabbeim afraid to ask really tough questions? Or were they afraid that the Roshei Yeshiva would be offended by tough questions? Why would you ask such softball (but legitmate) questions when you have all these distinguished Roshei Yeshiva on hand?

The Wolf

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E-Man said...

I agree with your questions. In high school I was removed from class for speaking out of turn, even though I asked gemorah questions. Clearly, some Rebbeim need help on how to run a classroom and that would have helped immensely. Also, abuse is so rampant this day and age, or least more publicized that it is a shame that no Roshei Yeshivas have addressed it yet on a large scaled.

Also, I think the first question is ridiculous, a teacher should be able to realize when the appropriate time for playing is and when learning should be done. If he doesn't then why is he a teacher?

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

A drasha I read years ago:
There's a gemara where one of the tannaim meets up with Beruriah, wife of Rabbi Meir, while walking and asked "Which way to Lod?"
Beruriah responds "Idiot, does it not say 'Do not talk excessively with women'? You should have asked: 'Where's Lod?" (in other words, say 2 words to her instead of 4)
One of the Soloveitchiks commented on this story: Why such a response from Beruriah? Couldn't she have simply told the guy? Why upbraid him like that?
Here's what Beruriah was thinking: You've just met one of the gedolei hador (because Beruriah was one of them) and the best question you can come up with is one for directions? Ah, but you must be thinking that you're being strict about not engaging in casual conversation with women. Well if you're so strict, let me point out to you that you could be stricter!

I recently had a chance to meet a gadol hador and I agonized for 2 weeks over what questions to ask him. After all, "how's it goin' eh?" might cut it for Bob at the doughnut shop but not for someone of great importance.

On the other hand, one can understand why these questions were asked. It is most likely that they would be answers while Wolf's suggestions would get one shown out of the room in a hurry!

TMWTBH said...

Question number 2 is a lot more intricate than you indicate. Of course there is a lot of good discussing the roundtable questions, but the flip side is: What do you do when a boy comes to school and tells the principal that he is doing it all wrong because Rabbi X said to do it differently.

BrooklynWolf said...


Then that means that the boy has to learn the proper way to address and respect his principal. That sounds like it's more of a derech eretz issue than a problem with the feature.

The Wolf

Anonymous said...

The fact that the Chinuch Roundtable was up for question just shows how little dialogue these people want. The CR actually gives people multiple views on issues. Oh the HORROR!

Unknown said...

While I do agree that those are not exactly the best questions that could have been asked I think that the "tougher questions" need to be analyzed case by case and there is no one-answer-fits-all.