Jul 7, 2014
Dear Bochur, Sorry

From the COLlive Inbox: "I may have fed into some of the blind stereotyping characteristic of ignorance and prejudice, thinking Yeshiva boys are all the same..."

Dear Sholom,

I've decided to use a specific name because Dear 'Bochur or 'Yeshiva student' is far too impersonal for my taste. Since this letter is indeed personal in nature, I've chosen the name 'Sholom' to underscore my message - a message I hope will reach the hearts of others - in particular parents and educators. A message about growing at any age and stage. At every age and stage. A message that flies in the face of the incessant barrage of nay-saying and doom-filled prophecies related to 'the system'-- 'our boys' and also 'our girls'.

Yet, in essence, this letter is addressed to you - a composite of the hundreds upon hundreds of yeshiva bochurim who have graced my Shabbos table - a table, mind you, that finds itself in a flourishing 'out of town' community - almost every week for well over a decade. Some quick math tells me we're talking in the thousands by now.

First off-- I apologize for being plain old wrong. I may have fed into some of the blind stereotyping characteristic of ignorance and prejudice... "'Yeshiva boys are all the same...rude, aggressive, naive, and don't really know how to interact with the 'real' world."

In fact, I found the opposite to be true. Many of you are children of Shluchim, you have been out there on the playing field since birth. You live and breathe giving to others. Correction: you are all children of Shluchim. Whether your parents hold a formal post in a far flung country or you've grown up on Crown Street you have already spent thousands of hours actively living the teachings of Chasidus; it shows in how you view yourself, others, and the world in general.

Second, boy are you ever clever. If your mashpia or teacher or principal was having a lousy day or week (hopefully it wouldn't last for much longer than that) you'd pick up on it (not that you chose to) and try to not let it affect you. Generally you looked the other way. Occasionally you might grumble, wondering why students had to bear the brunt of a sour mood. You were more than willing to look past the occasional bump as in the majority of cases the authority in question had already proved himself to be a person of integrity. Who can breeze through life never having endured the undertow of challenge or - at the very least - the occasional wake-up on wrong side of the bed?

Lest one assume the Shabbos table was a gossip-fest or ongoing vent session, the very opposite is true. Even while not being in the presence of hanhala, you usually demonstrated respect and aimed to first give the benefit of the doubt. Typically, it was about the bottom line-- "Teachers should be positive." Fair enough.

What I found most admirable of all is that you seem to understand (in varying degrees, of course) that you are greater than the sum of your individual selves. That you are part of a bigger picture to which you contribute and affect a world of good - an everlasting spiritual ripple effect founded on the powerful principles of Chabad Chasidus.

I salute your parents (and, in some cases, grandparents) for imparting these lessons to you. After all, they started you on your respective journey. But you can be rightfully proud of putting what you've been taught to excellent use from the time you've arrived in a foreign city as a new yeshiva student, going forward. I notice you paying careful attention to what you've been learning over the years-- examining, questioning, reiterating, and - best of all - implementing.

My wish for you is to stay pure and true. To not become jaded by the passage of time. To pay little attention to the squabbles and ego trips of those you may encounter along your way. To always strive for Emes. The brand of Emes that encompasses every letter of the Alef Bais so to speak. To recognize the 'high road' and stay on course.

And, having been in your uplifting company for as long as I have, I promise to do the same.

In my short letter, I will not nor cannot attempt to tackle the painful issues related to those who are not accepted to yeshivos, abandon the 'derech', the precipitous dropping of moral standards, and the like. These issues require careful handling along with large doses of compassion. There are many different paths to G-d-- some more obscure and mysterious than others.

I conclude with a heartfelt prayer; may we all merit the blessing of utilizing our full potential - with joy and gladness of heart so that we may bring about the long awaited Redemption with Moshiach Tzidkeinu.


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Opinions and Comments

But after speaking about potential, and giving a blessing for utilizing full potential, I humbly think we need to discuss action, goals and results.

BOCHURIM!! Start having goals and get on with achieving them.

Truthfully this post is at the wrong time of year, the end of the school year is not a time where most bochurim are sitting contemplating seriously about development and growth. I think maybe it would be a good idea to re-post this in two months.

In any case, Chevreh, think about accomplishments..

(7/7/2014 9:59:41 PM)
kinda magnetic
just a bit awkward
(7/7/2014 10:22:27 PM)
i dont get it
what is this womans point?
(7/7/2014 10:23:17 PM)
very much needed. thanks you m'am
(7/8/2014 5:26:16 AM)
What's the point??
There must be an underline reason for this op-ed which is not revealed in this article
In my opinion, this "generalization" of "Bochrim" is wrong either way
there are some who are great and some who are not so great. some that fits the negative description and some that fits the positive one and probably a vast majority that is somewhere in between
my advice to the author is, if you have a problem with the behavior of an individual "Bochur" or a group of them you should address it with them and not publicly
if you think that your intervention is not going to go well with them then talk to their teachers and parents
it should go the other way too, if you think that an individual or a group of them are outstanding there should be a positive reinforcement to it as well
(7/8/2014 10:56:57 AM)
Past Yeshiva bachur
Really! after hundreds and hundreds of yeshiva bachurim gracing your shabbos table for the duration of some ten years, you now realize you've made a mistake in your perception?
Please explain!
(7/8/2014 12:49:21 PM)
staying pure
the most important of all is to stay pure.
learn and daven and stay pure , this will help you throughout all of life struggles.
No matter how hard and devius it may seem it is the only way.
there is so much to a long fulfilling life
but purity is the most important.
dont be metameh yourselves , your beautiful nesha,,os bs it is almost impossible to to erasr and iradicate later on. Stay on the right path and you reap reap later on in your lives.
this is the bank that youwill collect from later in life, this is your savings.. this is a bakoshe nafshi from a dear friend of all of you.
(7/8/2014 2:02:33 PM)
just read it
well written!
(7/8/2014 2:05:35 PM)
To #1
Why you chose to criticize the timing of this article is beyond me. How do you know? What if this is a perfect time, because there is space to take it in after the school year! Maybe not! I like the rest of what you write, but the criticism leaves a funny taste. It feels like you just wanted to put some kind of oppositional stance for its own sake.
(7/8/2014 5:53:25 PM)
To #9 - Can We Handle The Truth At All??
On the contrary!!

Number one is written in impeccable taste...

just as a matter of " is asking that it should be RE-posted ...

or did you not notice that?

Are we living in an age where even if you CLEARLY write POSITIVE criticism it will be seen in a negative way???
(7/8/2014 6:57:12 PM)
To #1
No, we're not living in an age where " even if you CLEARLY write POSITIVE criticism it will be seen in a negative way". As I indicated, I LIKED what you wrote, except for the wording of that one part. To my writing sensibilities, to begin a comment with "truthfully this is the wrong", and further it with "the end of the year is not a time" sounded like a pretty authoritative way to express that sentiment. Perhaps a more tactful choice of phrasing would have rendered a different quality. Just saying....
(7/8/2014 11:51:27 PM)
To #10... etc.
Impeccable taste? I would not agree with that. I didn't like his/her under current attitude. But regardless, I think the original article has a great message. And I think there is no "right" time for it. For some this may be the perfect time, and for others it may not! If #10 would have chosen wording such as......."This is a great piece. Some might get a lot from it now that we are not in the midst of our business. Others might be more apt to appreciate in when we get back to business. Please consider reposting at the start of the school year........" , In any event, thanks to the author. I like the style AND the message.
(7/10/2014 2:31:12 PM)
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