Raising children in troubled times - understanding, coping, succeeding
By Rabbi Nisson Wolpin
Mesorah Publications, Ltd.
The family as an institution is in trouble on the American scene, as has been well documented. While the Torah society has managed to create vibrant communities that have shielded and insulated themselves from the devastating onslaught of the new morality, it would be a dangerous self-delusion not to recognize that some seepage has taken place into our own homes. One cannot escape the pervasive influence of a materialistic, secular, and hedonistic society.
The Torah describes Yaakov Avinus return to the Land of Israel from Charan with his twelve sons as: Yaakov returned shaleim -- complete, perfect. Rashi quotes the Midrash as finding Yaakov complete in body, complete in material possessions, complete in Torah.
This remarkable achievement has become the goal of every conscientious Jew. It is the sum total of the course of study of every yeshiva; and indeed, it is within our study halls of Torah that this ideal can best be realized.
But there is a world beyond these walls, and it is essential that this tri-faceted perfection be pursued in the broader world, without compromise, acculturation, or accommodation to corrosive values.
The rabbis add that Yaakovs arrival was at twilight; and he established boundaries. The implication is that it was a time of ambiguity, when it was difficult to discern between right and wrong -- so like our own complex era. Yaakovs task of drawing sharp lines of distinction has been assumed by the yeshivos. Inevitably, however, the point is reached when one enters the world of the marketplace, where one is so subject to the influence of foreign value systems. Here, we do not function in a setting of perfection, but in one of fragmentation and disunity. The tendency is to compartmentalize our values, and assume one mentality in the office or behind the counter, and another in the beis midrash or shul. It is tragic, indeed, if the criteria for completeness in material possessions is from a different source than completeness in body or ...Torah. Yet the affluence we are enjoying may well be responsible for some severe problems in our lives, and may have cut us off from the purity and wisdom of the beis hamidrash.
All concerned parents surely harbor private anxieties and fears, hopes and dreams for their childrens wholesome development; and it undoubtedly will be to their advantage to study the words of two leading roshei yeshiva, who offer their insights on how to raise a Torah family in a society that is so hostile to the Torah outlook on life. With their guidance, our goals become clearer, and our chances for success that much more possible.