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"Lead from the Front!"

05/14/2019 04:01:54 PM


Rabbi Reuben Israel Abraham, CDR, CHC, USN (ret)

The Dubno Maggid once asked his Rebbe, the Vilna Gaon , to identify the most effective way to influence children.  His answer was unique: he asked the Maggid to bring a large cup and surround it with small cups.  He then told the Maggid to pour liquid into the large cup and to continue pouring until the liquid overflowed into the smaller cups.  "that," said the Gaon, "is how an educator should teach.  In order to have children absorb and retain a lesson, the teacher must first absorb an overdose of whatever he seeks to impart to his students.  Thus, they, in turn, will be suffused with the overflow."

In this week's parashah, Parashat Emor, we read the following: "Hashem said to Moshe: 'Say to the Kohanim, the Sons of Aharon, and tell them: "Each of you shall not contaminate himself to a [dead] person among his people."'"  There is a "strange" repetitiveness in this verse: "Say" and "tell."  Apparently Moshe was told to say something to the Kohanim not once but twice.  Rashi quotes the Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud) which teaches that this repetitiveness speaks to a double teaching.  Not only were the Kohanim of Moshe's time to be taught, but they were to teach the subsequent generation of Kohanim that followed them. These Kohanim were instructed twice by Moshe in order that they received a double measure of kedushat Kohanim (the holiness of the Kohanim).  This double portion would then overflow to the next generation of Kohanim.

Rabbi Noach Weinberg, the founder of Aish HaTorah, followed this principle in the way he hired his teachers.  He only hired those people who personally felt that the subject they taught was the most important subject of all.  For example, the Chumash (Torah) teacher believed that Chumash study was the key to entering the Olam Haba (the World-to-Come).  The Gemara (Talmud) teacher felt the same way, and so on and so on and so on.  It was found that in this way of teaching, the students best absorbed what they learned from each teacher.

The fact remains that the best way to educate children is to lead by example.  When children see the joy and excitement in a parent or a teacher, they will more than likely follow the path laid before them.  The best way for a child/student to follow the leader is for the parent or teacher to lead from the front - not push from behind!

Sun, September 15 2019 15 Elul 5779