Rabbi Yaakov Haber posted a very very very important article on why kids go off the derech and whether some of the things that are often blamed for this are really to blame or if they are just scapegoated. He talks about getting to the real issue. What he writes is very much in line with what I wrote in this post, which is greatly influenced by things I've heard frommy rebbe. It should be noted that the article is a transcript of an interview he did for Horizon Magazine. Here are some key quotes from his post and a link to the full article.
Horizons: I just recently came across another warning against the dangers of the internet to the spiritual wellbeing of our children. Maybe we can begin our discussion by asking how much is the internet to blame for “kids at risk”? Or is that merely scapegoating?
Rabbi Haber: The internet has proven to be capable of a great amount of damage to Jews of all ages. However, it is important to remember that the internet is a reality. There will come a time in the not-so-distant future when it will be impossible to pay a bill, bank, make a phone call or even turn on a light in your house without using the Internet. Instead of forbidding the Internet and non-kosher cell phones, it would seem to be more prudent to teach students how to interact with the Internet responsibly. If we were to forbid everything that we can use the wrong way we must include cars, mp3 players, and for that matter---women! We have to be very careful with internet technology---but forbidding it is not the answer in the long term.
When a teenager leaves us for a more exciting lifestyle, we have to ask ourselves why they are not finding that excitement in our homes and communities. In his remarkable sefer, Tzav V’Ziruz, the Piacezner Rebbe teaches an important lesson in education: Nature abhors a vacuum. The sustenance of the neshama is regesh (emotion). The neshama wants to be filled with a regesh of kedushah. If it doesn’t find kedusha, it will search for any form of regesh, even violent or disgusting regesh. We have to fill our children’s neshamos with healthy Torah regesh. Then the urge to look elsewhere will disappear.
H: Sounds like the system is designed to spread the malady.
RH: You know, I would say that it’s not “kids at risk, it’s “Klal Yisrael at risk.” I have worked with hundreds of so-called “kids at risk.” Most of the time these young people are the cream of the crop. Adel, sweet, caring individuals. The kind that, if you say “Well, I have to be going into the city now,” they’ll immediately offer to give you a ride. And it’s often because they are not aggressive or bullying by nature that they are swayed by bad influences, make bad decisions. But they are good kids.
You have to ask yourself : What would happen if they would not fall through the cracks? They have tremendous potential and a role to fill in the Jewish people. There are so many different mandates: tefilah, chesed, writers, administration, etcetera. In an eltist system, these are all b’dieved. But is that really the emes? No one should be an extra. Everyone should feel needed and important---because they are. This is how Yaakov Avinu spoke and blessed all of his children before he left this world: “Each man according to his blessing did he bless them.”
So, if we allow them to fall thorugh the gaps, Klal Yisrael loses. So it’s not just a matter of saving this kid or that kid; but of saving Klal Yisrael. As I said, we have to decide if we can afford to lose them.
Read the full article...
(Picture courtesy of savinglivesandstampingoutdisease.com)
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