Jun 12, 2012
'We Don't Expel Students'
Illustration photo by Chaim Perl
Sephardic leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef called on schools not to expel troublemakers, yet one Chabad educator told COLlive the call was not a novelty.
By COLlive reporter
Leading Sephardic leader and halachic authority Rabbi Ovadia Yosef made an impassioned plea this week to teachers not to expel children from schools and yeshivos, even if they exhibit negative behavior.
"Even if there is a student who behaves inappropriately, it is still forbidden to throw him out of school and instead we must exercise extreme patience," he said in a video posted on Kikar.net and VIN News.
"Toiling in the field of chinuch is indeed work and we have to be patient with each and every student. If we are patient with this student, one day he can grow up to be a talmid chacham. And if we send him away from the yeshiva where will he go? ...What will become of him?"
He said the act of expelling a child is a life or death situation, and cautioned listeners that in the days of the Sanhedrin, it took a group of 23 sages to decide on matters that were classified as "dinei nefashos." He warned mechanchim that as individuals, they lacked the authority to make decisions that have such far reaching ramifications.
"Don't throw them out!" exhorted Rabbi Yosef. "What, are you throwing away a rock? These are neshamos! Are you ready to take responsibility for what might happen? We must love these children who will one day become our gedolim. We need to bring them closer with sweet words so that we can bring them closer to the Torah."
While these words made headlines in the frum community, COLlive was told that the topic will not be raised in the upcoming summer conferences for Chabad educators organized by the Chinuch Office of Merkos L'inyonei Chinuch.
"It's not an issue we need to rehash," the director Rabbi Nochum Kaplan told COLlive.com. "The Frierdiker Rebbe said a student should not be thrown out - ever - because it's dinei nefashos. Throwing out a child is murder. It's simply killing the child."
He said that nowadays, "the vast majority of our mosdos implement this policy. The Rebbe told me that there is never a reason to throw out a child because he has a problem - that is your task as a teacher, to deal with it."
The only exception to this rule, he said, was if a child is negatively influencing other students and the situation is not amenable.
"Yet even when that is the case, the Frierdiker Rebbe said that a single person should not be making the decision. It should be the hanhala or a few educators deciding," Rabbi Kaplan said.
"In addition to that, Rabbi Mordechai Hodakov said that when the decision is made and a child is being thrown out, it is your responsibility to find another school that will take this child," he added.
What will be discussed at the summer chinuch kinusim is "basic classroom managment skills," a topic that is interconnected with Rabbi Yosef's speech where he extolled the virtue of patience, stressing its importance for those in the field of chinuch.
"If anyone thinks he or she can go into a classroom and 'wing it', they are making a major mistake," Rabbi Kaplan said. "And patience comes from confidence and organization, which can only be achieved by preparation."
Registration for the summer chinuch kinusim is now open for male and female teachers and principals (separate conferences) at chinuchoffice.org