Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Divrei Chaim: what do we expect kids to walk out of yeshivah kno...

Divrei Chaim: what do we expect kids to walk out of yeshivah kno...: A follow up post on education: We spend thousands of dollars and invest hundreds of hours of classroom instruction in educating our kids. ...

Didn't write this! Totally my brother in law. But I wish I did! I only think that some of his assessments of the current thinking are wishful thinking! This is what he wrote:

We spend thousands of dollars and invest hundreds of hours of classroom instruction in educating our kids. After 12 or more years, what do we expect them to know? What are we getting for our money?

My question assumes that, like E.D. Hirsch argued, there is certain “core knowledge” that is essential. It’s not enough for students to have some vague set of skills or good “midos” or hashkafos. They need to have real facts and information at their fingertips. 

Here is what I consider the bare minimum, at least for girls: 

1) Knowing all of chumash with rashi;

2) Familiarity with the text all of all nevi’im rishonim and basic content of nevi’im achronim;

3) Knowing orach chaim halachos as found in Chayei Adam or Kitzur;

4) Understanding basic principles of belief (this point needs a post of its own to define better).

That’s it.

Sounds simple, but I challenge you to test your average Beis Ya’akov graduate and see if she has mastered the items on my list.  My own kids have gone to what is considered a more academic B.Y., one which comparatively speaking does provide a decent education, and they complain to me that I’m being unfair when I expect them to know a pasuk and Rashi that they never learned in school.

(If you think boys education is any better, you're kidding yourself. A kid can walk out of 12th grade knowing 60-70 blatt gemara (in some cases, ha’levai that much) and the reid a rebbe said over to them for 4 years and that’s it – no knowledge of navi, chumash, hashkafa (outside of mussar shmuzen), and a smattering of Mishnah Berurah at best. Of course you have boys who become masmidim and excel – but those are the ones who are above average. What about the guy in the second level shiur in MTA, in DRS, in Chofetz Chaim, NIRC, or YFR?  What do they really know after 12 years of school?)

What is worse than girls not having learned this stuff in school is the fact that they never given the message that they have to learn it on their own, not because of the mitzvah of talmud Torah (which of course does not apply to girls), and not because they will do some kind of aveirah if they don't know a Rashi somewhere in Sefer VaYika (a very unlikely prospect), but simply because how can you live as a thinking Jew, a Jew who wants to connect with Torah = with G-d, if you don't even know chumash and Rashi?  

I should get back to posting on Torah only topics before I get myself too worked up or into hot water  : )

AishDas Monsey Emunah and Mussar Workshop for Teenagers

AishDas Monsey Emunah and Mussar Workshop for Teenagers

The workshops will be led by Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer

A six-hour (four 1.5 hour sessions) workshop for teenage boys is now open for registration. The workshop will take place over four days, August 8th to August 11th (4-7 Menachem Av) from 6:00pm to 7:30pm in Monsey.

It is no secret that high school students across the spectrum of Orthodoxy have questions and issues that often remain unanswered over the course of the school year. These are questions of Emunah (basic and core beliefs and the evidence of their authenticity) and Mussar (purpose and meaning in life). These will be addressed in the workshop. Moreover, often during the school year open questions and questioning are discouraged. The workshop will allow and address any and all questions that participants raise.

Topics that will be addressed will include:

  • The Evidence for the existence of God.
  • Evidence of the divine origin of Torah.
  • The Age of the Universe and Evolution.
  • The 13 Core Beliefs of the Rambam.
  • The purpose, mission and destiny of the individual, of society and of the universe.
  • The happiness of Emunah and Bitachon.

The cost is $54.00 per participant. To register, or for more information, please call 845.481.0613 or email

Rabbi Bechhofer has served as a Rav, Maggid Shiur, Rebbe and Rosh Kollel in the Chicago and New York areas. His published seforim are: The Contemporary Eruv: Eruvin in Modern Metropolitan Areas, Bigdei Shesh on Bava Basra, and Bigdei Shesh on Sefer Shoftim. Well over one thousand tapes of his lectures and shiurim (including the entire Yerushalmi) are available online in audio and video formats (see his blog,, for links). He received Semicha from Rabbi Yitzchok Koolitz, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, and Rabbi Zalman Nechemiah Goldberg, Av Beis Din of Jerusalem. He holds an M.S. in Education (concentration in Counseling and Guidance) from Johns Hopkins University. The AishDas Society ( empowers Jews to utilize their observance in a process for building thoughtful and passionate relationships with their Creator, other people and themselves. To do so, we offer unique programs, educational events and a supportive community and help other organizations develop programs and curricula.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Why modesty (צניעות) for woman is so important

My impression is that this rabbi is very popular. He seems very sincere and k'shmo kein hu, humble. But I don't like the approach. Tzeniyus is not important because men might sin by looking at an un'tzeniyus woman. Tzeniyus is important because it is a manifestation of Hatznei'a leches im Hashem Elokecha. As in Micha's Ma Hashem Elokecha mevakesh.

Monday, July 11, 2016

אהללה אלוקי ואשמחה בו - בית הרב קוק תשע"ו

I just noted this song as a talmid's chasunah a couple of weeks ago. I looked for in on youtube and found this clip. I have listened to it dozens of times! Uplifting and inspiring.