With regard to Avrohom Ovinu it is written, "Because I know
him, for he commands his sons and his household to follow him
and to guard the way of Hashem." The Torah tells us that the
main reason that Hashem loves Avrohom Ovinu (which is denoted
by the words `because I know him') is because he commands his
household to follow his example of keeping the word of
Actually, one could say much greater things about Avrohom,
for did he not sacrifice his very life in denying idolatry?
And therefore was he cast into the fiery furnace. But the
Torah praises him for the fact that he commands his sons and
household to follow his example.
Avrohom Ovinu brought many people closer to the Shechina;
he converted many people to the belief in One G-d Who
created the world. If so, where are all of them? Has nothing
remained? It is apparent from Chazal that even though they
were converted and they did accept the yoke of the One G-d,
still because they failed to educate their children in this
way, as Avrohom did, and did not grasp the secret of "for he
commands his sons . . . ," nothing remained of them.
They themselves became sublime and pure, but there was no
continuation. Avrohom Ovinu knew that the very foundation of
Jewish continuity and survival is chinuch. He
therefore educated his children to follow in his footsteps
and keep the ways of Hashem. Therefore did the Jewish people
survive through all the generations, to this very day. We
have a tradition that goes all the way back to Avrohom, to
his way, his teachings, to what he implanted in us. And one
of those fundamentals is training the next generation to
follow one's example, to walk in one's footsteps. Indeed,
throughout the ages, the Jewish people have held the value of
education as primary and sacrosanct, like the apple of their
Sadly, of late there has been a breach in this strong
fortification, in that outsiders seek to express their views
and impose their ideas upon our way of education. This is in
spite of the fact that they have long since seen that their
education is shallow and lacking values; it leads only to
destruction. And yet they persist in intervening and
dictating their views of what to teach and how to educate.
But we must be on guard and fight it with all our might.
Since we have nothing in common with them, we will only talk
about what applies to us. There is a primary rule said in the
name of the Vilna Gaon. It is known that the Gaon had a very
strong affection and admiration for the Dubno Maggid. We even
have a letter that the Gaon's son once wrote to him saying
that his father missed him very much and wished he would come
to visit him as soon as possible. We know that the Gaon was
not one to actually miss someone, but the Maggid seemed to
have been an exception. He recognized in him a pious, very
clever but extremely G-d-fearing person. The Maggid once
asked the Gaon how one could best influence people.
The Gaon replied by way of parable, "If a person has a cup
that is surrounded by smaller cups, so long as he does not
fill up the larger one, it cannot begin to spill over into
the others. But when the larger one is full, it can begin to
fill the others. Thus, he explained, the only way you can
have an impact on other people is to fill yourself up. Once
you are `full' of wisdom etc., you can begin to overflow and
have an influence on the lesser people around you.
This is the rule that applies to education. If one wishes to
be a mechanech, he must first reach a degree of
elevation himself. The more he perfects himself, the higher
he reaches, the more of an impact he can have on others. If
he is not a good example, a role model, his students will not
respect him or seek to learn from him. The higher the level a
person has reached, the more he can influence others.
In previous generations, the educators were all suffused with
Torah and G-d-fear, and because they were permeated with it,
they were able to influence their charges. But nowadays, we
have weakened and we are not filled with Torah and yiras
Shomayim, and consequently, the students lack the power
of concentration. They don't pay enough attention and do not
understand the material.
It should be stressed that one must learn the material very
thoroughly and be prepared for all kinds of questions. These
two things are of paramount importance. There are, of course,
other things, but these are primary.
In addition, it is vital to pray for Heavenly assistance. It
is brought in ancient works that teachers used to pray for
their students. The more they prayed, the more Hashem enabled
them to educate these students to duly become yirei
Shomayim, Torah scholars, true servants of Hashem. Then
Hashem will rejoice with us and we with Him. Then will Hashem
fulfill all of His promises. But until He does, we must
continue on and on, we must persevere until Moshiach comes,
may it be speedily in our day.