IT’S PERSONAL FOR EACH OF US
Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita
This sitting at home for over seven weeks brings with it its own slew of unique stresses. We are all suffering from a sense of vulnerability, especially when it comes to our children. Those with youngsters at home feel stretched, trying to give their young support despite the upheaval of schools being closed. Many are blessed with Rebbe’s and teachers who are heroically using phones and other media to reach out and learn with their students. Obviously this in and of itself is a great help but leaves a vast gap in a child’s needs. Everyone is tense, and we all await a Yeshuah, the last thing anyone wants is extra added pressure being poured on at such a time. We all look to our Mosdos to continue in their support of our young, and we appreciate all the effort they are putting into helping each family at this most difficult time.
But then, well there are many who find themselves being tormented, just when they are least able to find help. A message from a school telling an already worried parent that their child has not been accepted to the school they applied to for the next term is morally crushing. I know that this is a perennial problem, and I have heard all the reasoning behind such decisions, ad nauseam. The stark situation doesn’t change, kids are being left out, and parents are sick with worry.
In the year of this stressful state of ‘lockdown’, such a message carries with it a double blow. There is no real transparency in these decisions, and the schools are closed, so what is a harassed mother meant to do? Where can parents turn to? Who can help?
Spare a thought for the children involved, they know what’s happening, no matter how low the whispers, they get the message. Their friends are going to school next year, and they aren’t. They don’t understand what is going on, but the emotional scars are all too real.
My phone doesn’t let up, I have had calls from tearful souls who feel crushed by these circumstances.
Personally I don’t believe I have any say, Rabbonim in such cases rarely do. This in itself is a sign of a broken system. If a family doesn’t have the right connections or doesn’t have long-standing protection they can fall victim to invisible rules that were never hinted at till now.
We are all in isolation, with no one to turn too, can any reader of these words feel comfortable with such a situation? Rachmonus is the mainstay of our Nation, it is what has kept us alive throughout our long experience of Golus, and here, today, at this critical moment, when all eyes are moist with tears of pain, we find children being rejected.
I know I am getting on in years, and maybe I am a bit of a softy, but this yearly adventure into the realm of denial has never sat well with me, but now, in this time of sad devastation, well, I can’t understand how we can allow this to continue.
I have sat in the seat of decision-makers in Mosdos on two continents, and when I was faced with a question of rejecting any child, I went with great trepidation to Gedolei Hador for guidance. The Bobover Rebbe’s, HaRav Shlomo Ztl words to me were clear, one never rejects a child, ever! I sat with Harav Shlomo Friefeld and in answer to my question regarding a difficult case, I had the zechus to have a two-hour master class from this Godal of Chinuch on how to help the particular case at hand.
There can be no room for ambiguity when it comes to neshomahs, and parents have to know with clarity why their child isn’t accepted. Standard answers aren’t enough, it is a well-known tragedy that once not accepted in one school leads to finding the doors of other schools closed tight.
Do I take this situation personally, yes, and so should everyone else.
The Torah tells us in Parshas Behar “Do not harass one another, and you shall have fear of your G-d, for I am Hashem, your G-d.” These are pretty sharp words, and we should all focus on them.
We are living through a time of great challenge. Hashem wants our attention and chose this isolation for our benefit. We are all mourning the loss of Rebbe Akivah’s students, the cream of the Torah world that was tragically lost because of pettiness and callous jealousies. It may not be for naught that our present fearful situation coincides with this historical period of loss. I am no Novi, nor do I pretend to be anything more than a simple Yied who tries.
Fear is stalking our lives, we are all surrounded by the devastating numbers of our losses. Let’s all make an effort, let’s try to at least this one time, be understanding, and give strength to the parents of our young, who are facing so many challenges.
I will make this article short, more words can only bring more pain.
Please, sweet Yidden, let us all make a bond of solidarity. Every child deserves a Torah education, let us never forget how it feels not to have a school to go to. The Eibishter calls us to be more connected, especially in these days before Kabolas Hatorah. Please hear the plea of our young, and in this zechus, may we share in nachas from all our children in good health and open schools.