The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is
sick -- who can know it? I, Hashem, examine the heart and
the kidneys, to give every man according to his ways
the fruit of his doings (Yirmiyohu 17:9- 10).
Man is composed of major and subordinate powers. Some fill
secondary function during his life, while others are more
and serve him constantly. Above these are powers that form
essence and are the primary forces in his actions and
principal powers mold his personality and model his image and
One of these main forces is desire.
The Sha'arei Teshuvah of Rabbeinu Yonah writes most
that, "Desire is situated in man's heart and is the root of
his doings." Acts sprout from this root -- from desire. The
body operates only as a servant who carries out commands and
laid upon it by a supreme, absolute power. Desire, with its
rules over man.
This is man's actual condition. There is no mortal in the
who is born with a pure and clean heart, void of desire. This
already at birth, as he stirs from his mother's womb, this
binds itself to him and it accompanies him until death.
There is only one counterbalance against this destructive
abstinence from physical lusts.
Now we are approaching the primary deficiency of educational
in general, and of the Israeli one in particular. This
found exclusively in those systems not built entirely upon
of Torah, in the end spells ruin for these systems.
We can explain it as follows: our Holy Torah, a Toras
paints desire as a destructive power that causes results
complete havoc. In education and in general, the Torah
primarily with subduing this power and turning it into
and that of man's intelligence. Our Holy Torah sees the
of this power as our prime objective and only through control
does man have his basic guarantee that enables him to choose
Rabbeinu Yonah continues, "If he refines desire, then instead
of his body serving it he will draw it after his
it will accompany and serve his intelligence. All his acts
bettered." By succeeding in crushing and taming his desire,
by making his intelligence rule over it, "all his acts will
bettered." Such control over desire insures that one will do
acts, "as is written, `as for the pure one, his work is
(Mishlei 21:8). A person who is purified of his
The Holy Torah is especially concerned about the development
during childhood and adolescence. These are periods of
and character development. Any deviation, any corruption in
period, is like a flaw in a building's foundation. Even a
eventually results in chaos.
The Rambam (in the Sefer Hamitzvos) warns against a
indulging himself in excessive eating and drinking during
according to the conditions specified in the halocho
ben sorer umoreh. Here the Torah warns us against
excessive eating and drinking during youth, and punishes it
harshest penalty -- death -- so as to frighten others away
copying such behavior.
Desire destroys the image of humanity within man and allows
untamed forces to gain control of him. His adoption of
characteristics is the most certain and all-inclusive ruin
be. Animalistic behavior means an eternal, incurable split
The Vilna Gaon writes in Even Sheleimo: "Every person
passes through Nehar Dinur (Gehennom) is judged
the way he acted (on earth). Tzaddikim receive only a
judgment there, while reshoim are judged with fire . .
those who follow their animal nefesh are destroyed,
earthenware cannot be fixed." These are the terrible and
results of developing animal lust.
We must fully realize that even when a young boy has
destructive power within him the Holy Torah rules, "Let him
while still innocent and not full of sin" (Sanhedrin
This power, that has begun to develop while he is young, will
cause him to deteriorate further. He will follow one desire
another until he commits theft, robbery, and even murder. For
own good and that of the public, "Let him die while still
and not full of sin."
This is the crossroads for an educational system. Modern non-
education, upon which secular education in Eretz Yisroel is
cannot control these powers. Furthermore, it lacks any
for curbing them, for the simple reason that their mentors in
fields of education and character are totally baffled in this
The truth is that they have no basic knowledge of children's
hanefesh, and what is worse, partly out of sheer
partly for their convenience, they have created a warped new
This system contradicts reality and dictates, among other
"Do not punish your child! Do not restrict or restrain him!
him develop `naturally' and `normally.' "
Not only do they not try to place limitations on children, to
correct behavior for them, but intentionally (or perhaps
they promote the growth of desire within them. They intensify
children's power of desire. From their very childhood they
the forty-nine gates of tumah within their previously
soul. These secular educators manufacture wholesale the
that is widespread in this spiritually impoverished
have they established houses of avoda zorah for the
desire? Why are there establishments with modern academic
disseminate immoral pictures? Is this not an insane plea for
of man's animalistic feelings? (Note that we are talking here
fundamental physical desires and not matters of ideology.)
Is it any wonder that pure souls who breath this poisoned
brought up on excessive pleasures of every sort, are left
any guidelines of good or evil? The explicit aim of achieving
desire permits everything.
So-called serious secular journalism is alarmed when it
violence among high school children from well-to-do families.
ask in alarm, "How could this happen? What is the reason? Who
is at fault?"
We are amazed at their questions. Why are they so startled?
never learned the alef-beis of elementary education?
not understand that if they encourage children to attain
the end result is violence?
Let them open up the Book of Books, our Holy Torah, where
points at this pivotal principle.
Torah education is based upon what Shlomo Hamelech, the
men, wrote: "The rod and reproof give wisdom; but a child
to himself causes shame to his mother" (Mishlei 29:15;
see Rashi). This candid advice reprimands all the various
and guides us in the proper way of education.
Education that lets its students do what they please will
end up with these students putting their teachers to shame.
your son and he will give you rest, he will give delight to
(ibid., v. 17). Only Torah chinuch, an
restrains impulses and guides the child towards breaking his
lust, an education that shows students the bounds and limits,
any chance of succeeding in implanting in their hearts good
traits, righteousness, and a yearning to improve
"He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him
him" (Mishlei 13:24). The Midrash Tanchuma
"This teaches us that someone who refrains from rebuking his
causes his eventual spiritual deterioration. We find this in
Avrohom, his father, loved him and did not punish him.
deteriorated, and then Avrohom hated him.
"Similarly, `Yitzchok loved Esav' (Bereishis 25:28),
therefore Esav degenerated, because Yitzchok did not punish
. . [in the case of] Dovid, too, when he did not admonish and
Avsholom, Avsholom degenerated and attempted to kill Dovid .
. . and
caused the deaths of several thousand people . . . Likewise
did not punish or scold Adoniyahu, and therefore Adoniyahu
"`But he who loves him rebukes him' -- that is Avrohom, who
rebuked and taught [Yitzchok] Torah and guided him in his
ways . .
. Similarly, Yitzchok taught Yaakov, his son, Torah and
him . . . Yaakov Ovinu also rebuked his children and
and taught them his ways, so they would not have any
"Likewise Bas Sheva, the tzadekes, reprimanded her
son Shlomo, as is written, `The words of King Lemuel, the
his mother reprimanded him' (Mishlei 31:1). This
Bas Sheva tied him to a pole and hit him with a rod; thus she
him. And what would she say to him? . . . `Do not visit kings
drink wine and become intoxicated' . . . and,' [said Bas
`because I rebuked him he became the wisest of all men.'"
What Chazal teach us here does not need any additional
Chazal attach maximal significance to an education opposing
natural inclinations. They declare that educating a person to
against the current of desires allows that person to become
wisest of all men."
Education that allows a person to do what he wishes, that
inclinations develop without restraint, reprimand, or limits,
a child to degenerate stage after stage to the worst possible
According to this approach we have the key to the present
difficulties. Although just one or two generations ago a
limited in achieving his desires and entirely under the
yoke, in the present period, because of the influence of
even our own wall of education has been somewhat breached,
dear children are allowed more leniency. Behavior that we
permitted we allow without limit and, as a result the
of desire strengthens and widens. This causes the powers of
analysis to be pushed aside and the students' heart and mind
Difficulties and indecision about choosing the correct way of
flourish in such a condition. Reality obliges us to criticize
acts, to check every corner, to analyze every educational
We must banish any chometz from our educational
any opinion or approach not based on the Torah and Chazal
We must distrust any new system in the secular educational
even if it superficially appears beneficial. There is no
the Torah's, and no real understanding can emerge without
and toiling over our Holy Torah. Only by its light will we
in that way we will succeed.