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I Got 96% in my Daughter’s Halacha Assignment – Part 2 | Rabbi Dovid Abenson

Girls can quickly sense when a work set is simply busy-work created to enslave them to their desks. It merely builds resentment towards school and undermines the true purpose of a Torah education, which is to inspire girls to a love of Yiddishkeit.

Even the more academically inclined girls feel undue stress and pressure because of the constant work demands. Worse still is to punish a child for not completing a Torah assignment. As I wrote in previous articles, equating Torah learning with other school subjects takes away from its kedusha, and can be a huge turn-off for many girls. It definitely goes against the spirit of the Bais Yaakov philosophy which was to provide an alternative to the lure of the haskalah and secular education.

The sole purpose of the high school is to educate the girls to study laws that are relevant to them, as the Rema writes. Girls should come out of Bais Yaakov with a solid understanding of practical Halacha and Torah hashkafa with sufficient textual skills that they know how to find answers to any questions that come up during their life in the relevant seforim.

I was working with a 14-year-old girl who was crying to me during a Skype session. Her teacher told her that if she cannot read and translate the Ramban she will not be able to get into seminary. The girl came to me in the first place because she can’t read Hebrew or Rashi. Without these skills how will she be able to learn Ramban? Simply uttering damning prophecies about the future was doing nothing for the girl’s self-esteem or her Hebrew skills. Fortunately, after some Skype sessions, we were able to help her acquire those skills the school had failed to teach her.

Teachers will often teach the meforshim in class. The students take notes. They review those notes for tests and may do well if they understand the notes. The actual textual skills are not tested. Moreover, most of the notes are thrown out after school is over and forgotten. Actual skills stay for a lifetime.

Rather than 24-hour surveillance of students, the Bais Yaakov institutions might do better to monitor their teachers more closely. Are they teaching properly? Are they well-prepared and coming on time? Are they dressed modestly? Are the classrooms conducive to learning, with proper lighting and minimal distractions of mess and clutter?

As is well-known, the founder of the Bais Yaakov movement 100 years ago was Sara Shenirer. She wrote:

The Main goal of the Beth Jacob school is to train the Jewish daughters so that they will serve HASHEM with all their might and with all their hearts; so that they will fulfill the commandments of the Torah with sincere enthusiasm and will know that they are the children of a people whose existence does not depend upon a territory of its own, as do other nations of the world whose existence is predicated upon a territory and similar racial background.”

In other words, a girl should emerge from a Bais Yaakov feeling proud to be a Jew, loving Hashem and his mitzvos and, most importantly, knowing Hashem loves her. She can trust Him, pray to Him, and never need despair. Hashem loves her whether she gets 100% or 53.6%. Is that honestly the message our girls are getting from school?

What of the girls who do not have good heads but are the first to notice the person who needs a helping hand, a snack, a friendly word? Do those girls feel “successful” in school? In the Megillah, King Achashveirosh orders Queen Vashti to appear at his feast wearing only a crown. What is the significance of this? Chazal teaches that a crown represents chochma, learning. Clothing is middos. A crown is surely a fine thing to have, but we must first get dressed. By over-emphasizing academic achievement in schools are we chas v’shalom asking our girls to appear wearing only their crowns?

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ASK THE RABBI is a new forum where readers are welcome to submit all questions on subjects regarding Jewish education to Rabbi Abenson and he will answer them in a timely fashion through TheLakewoodScoop.

Rabbi Dovid Abenson can be contacted at: Tel. 15147393629, Cell/Whatsapp 15149935300, Email: ravabenson@shaarhatalmud.com.

Rabbi Abenson is the founder and director of ShaarHatalmud, a unique yeshivah-based online program, which incorporates learning all Kodesh subjects, from Kriah up to learning Gemara, Rishonim, and Shulchan Aruch. He also conducts evaluations, remediation, and training, and consults with Roshei HaYeshiva and Menahelim to improve students’ underdeveloped learning and textual skills.

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There are 1 Comments to "I Got 96% in my Daughter’s Halacha Assignment – Part 2 | Rabbi Dovid Abenson"

  • Anonymous says:

    I think there should be teacher training for Moros similar to Aish Dos. Seminaries don’t provide adequate training.