Thursday, April 10, 2014

A unique chinuch proposal: An annual prayer asifa to daven for the students

Lchvod Harav
the following is an article authored by our Rav, Harav Y R Rubin of Mosdos Ohr Shlomo Manchester England. We would hope you could reprint it on your website. with Brochas of continued success in your Harbotzas Torah and for a chag kosher vesomeach,
C Shriebhand
director of The Informal Project


A unique opportunity for a Kiddush Hashem

The mechanech was at his wit’s end. He had tried everything including the newest pedagogical techniques that he had learnt at a recent course.  He just could not get this child to listen, and things didn't seem to be getting any easier. The boy seemed to be fine otherwise. His family was baaleibatish, yet nothing seemed to be able to motivate him. He didn't bother anyone; he just sat there, sometimes looking out the window with a far off gaze. The mechanech felt frustrated; if he didn't know any better he would have thought the boy had a personal axe to grind.
Our mechanech had a connection with a Tzaddik and when he visited his Rebbe he wrote in his kvittel about the problem with this boy. The Rebbe looked up to his chossid with warm sweet eyes and asked simply, “Have you davened for this talmid?”  What a stunningly beautiful thought! Have you davened for this child? Does his pain enter your inner landscape? Is this child important enough for your sincere prayers?

Hearing this episode brought tears to my eyes. In the world of education we are often so obsessed with ticking all the boxes, achieving the right marks in tests, approximating preordained levels that we forget who we are teaching. Nothing brings us closer to our students than when we see their difficulties and tribulations as those of Yiddishe neshomas with whose care we have been entrusted. Who wouldn't daven for a loved one? What greater tool could any Torah Yied have?

In parshas Shemini we come across an extremely deep lesson.  “Moshe and Aaron came” (9:23). This “coming” refers to a specific prayer that Moshe and Aaron offered upon the completion of the Mishkan. Rashi explains that when construction of the Mishkan was finished and all the sacrifices had been brought, the Divine Presence still did not descend upon the Bnei Yisroel. Aaron was extremely distressed, because he took it as a rebuke for his participation during the episode of the Golden Calf. At that point, Moshe came and davened for Hashem’s mercy. It was first then that the Shechina descended.

Perhaps this is meant to show us that even after every detail of a set of instructions has been fulfilled, all the boxes ticked, still, it takes a tefillah to actualise the bringing down of the presence of Hashem.

We all are extremely aware of the challenges our young face, and we have all seen our mechanchim trying their utmost to advance their understanding of their students. But, as the Rebbe asked, have we davened for our students? Have we stood with a Sefer Tehillim in hand and beseeched Hashem for Divine help?

I would like to make a proposal. I do so with trepidation because I am fully aware that others may wonder about where this originates. However, sometimes you just have an intuition about something and you want to share it. What happens subsequently is in Hashem’s Hands.

My proposal is simple: once a year, at a date to be determined, every rebbe, mechanech, menahel, Rosh Yeshiva, Beis Yaakov teacher, indeed everyone who has our children's neshomas in their hands, should come together and daven for their students. This will be at one central location, embracing all mosdos.

Each participant will come with a list of their students’ names and after we all say a few chapters of Tehillim, each participant will quietly go through their list. The order of this event can be fine- tuned. I only want to offer the template. 

Now, step back for a moment and just imagine the impact such an event could have. Children would see how their teachers care about them. Parents would witness the deep devotion that their rebbes have for their charges. Just the thought of hundreds, perhaps more, of our mechanchim coming with their lists, asking Hashem for help, beseeching that they succeed with the next generation of hielige neshomas, is awesome.
The children would feel a sense of connection, as would the teachers. Mechanchim from all mosdos would be in one place davening for their students. 

This would be a Kiddush Hashem without any politics or factions. It’s just a case of Torah teachers offering their personal tefillos. Above and beyond all the rules and guidelines, they are coming simply as Yieden, asking for help in the most vital challenge of our times. My heart whispers to me that this would create kovod Shomayim, and I sense that our combined tefillos for our kinderlach would rip open the Gates of Shomayim.

I repeat, I am but a minor player in this huge field, and forgive me for my impertinence, but none is intended. I only bring this proposal because in a turbulent sea, any lifeboat is worthy of support.

I hope readers will take this matter to heart, and if it strikes a chord there, please let’s do something about it soon.

Our children need our tefillos, and we need to be offering them now.


  1. I am all for Tefilos because it may help parents and teachers to focus less on power , doing to kids and trying to motivate them and rather focus on ' working with kids' and trying to help kids by creating the conditions so that they can motivate themselves.

    ' He just could not get this child to listen' - the renowned American educationalist Deborah Meier said that teaching is essentially listening and learning is essentially talking.

    The seider night is a great place to start to stimulate the curiosity of kids , hear their questions and perspectives – and start listening to them and working with them instead of trying to motivate them with rewards, prizes, competition, grades etc
    When it comes to 'socio-moral ' learning – behavior we should do the same thing .Try to solve problems in a collaborative way hearing their concerns and perspectives.
    We can doven for them , and show that we love them. But as a kid once said about his dad – he loves me , he will do anything for me – but he does not know who I am . I am a virtual kid for him. Dr Benzion Sorotzhin brings a quote in the name of the Chazon Ish – what kids need more than love is respect . Instead of trying to get the kid to listen we should try to listen to the kid

  2. Adding tfilot is not the litvish way. Anshei knesset hagdolah set our tfilot, and we cannot change it. And with current politics as they are even chasdidim and sfardim dare not add new tfilot.

    Except against "amim asher lo yeda-ucha"

    MiMedinat HaYam

    1. Really? So you have no Piutim on Yom HaKippur?

    2. i was being sarcastic. thanx for extending the sarcasm.

  3. I am responding here with an idea from the old school - an idea that is hardly understood anymore in this day and age.

    Everything today is for show and nothing is pure anymore. We make an Asifa to Daven. The 'Real' purpose of a mass gathering for Tefilla is that Hain Kail Kabir Velo Yimos, that Hashem doesn't ignore or Ch'V reject a request brought before him by the masses of Klal Yisroel. So every Jew makes himself part of Klal Yisroes to beseech The Master of the Universe in an Ais Tzorah etc. Or more reasons like this which have to do with the Koach Hatzibbur in relating to Hashem.

    But when we feel the urge to do this in a place where we will be 'Observed' by particular human beings, than, to put it bluntly, Hashem is simply the 'Prop' for our PR job. It's like the guy who Davens in such an Ehrlicher looking way, and every once in a while peeps around to see that his 'Tzidkus' is being noticed by everybody. So whom is he worshiping?

    Our students should be in our Tefillos, that is to say our Tefillos to 'Hashem', but no publicity please. That just adulterates everything. The Ramba"m refers to Tefillo as 'Lehisboded Im Kono'

    You say:
    "Children would see how their teachers care about them."
    "Parents would witness the deep devotion that their rebbes have for their charges."

    So it's about what children and parents will see. But Tefilloh is to Hashem for his divine help, not through our publicly showing our children or parents anything. I agree that the children should be made to feel that we really care - that is if we in fact do care. But then it is not the same thing as Tefillo. So it is neither. Children will see that we are making a spectacle about pretending to be Davening for them.

    I think there should be an awareness made for all Rebbes to feel real Ahavas Yisroel for their students. If any Rebbe chooses to take this seriously, and not for show, they can work on themselves and reach any level of this, then they should Daven for the students in the privacy of their own Tefillos.


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