Every Son Needs a “Father”

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8 Responses

  1. joel rich says:

    Agree, except I called him Abba as in shma bni nussar avicha – unfortunately this model seems to have been devalued in the last generation, imho at great cost.

  2. Garnel Ironheart says:

    While I appreciate RYR’s points, I would strongly disagree on one fundamental thing: the strongest father-figure in any Jew’s life should be – wait for it – his father. Not a rebbe, not a mashpia, not a mishgiach but the man who has known him all his life and knows him better than any other should.
    My father never liked the mishnah in Bava Metzia about how if you can only save one person, your rebbe or your father, you save your father. He always wanted to know: what kind of father goes and lets another man be a more important figure in his son’s life than him!?
    Perhaps this is something that needs to be touched on. Do we fathers do enough to be the “Rebbes” in our sons’ live?

  3. Nathan says:

    A Rebbe who offers guidance to students must know more than Torah.

    He must also possess a detailed, intimate and accurate knowledge of the people he is trying to guide.

    When shadchanim try to match single people they know almost nothing about, the singles feel that the shadchanim are wasting there time by suggesting innappropriate matches. No matter how smart the shadchan is, no matter how noble his intentions, he has little reason to expect success when he matches people he knows very little about.

    The same thing is true for a Rebbe. No matter how smart the Rebbe is, not matter how much Torah he knows, he can not offer true guidance except to people thet he knows very well.

  4. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    I think there is a common thread between this subject and the much-discussed shidduch crisis. The men who have trouble or aren’t really looking for a rebbe, or a serious, deep, ongoing life chevrusa and those who are not really serious about a shidduch are all stuck in the search for world-class perfection and not being able to settle for less. Media bombard you with the most beautiful, but Torah media also, on a lesser scale, bombard you with the wisest and the sharpest and the biggest tzaddik. The local community rav has had his stature greatly devalued by the world-class phenomenon. When you have a shaila in halacha or want to hear a shiur, it’s either the gadol hador or nothing. Since you know how much everything has gone down over the years, and since most people don’t encounter a great man on a day-to-day basis, it becomes the latter. Since the gedolim of the yeshiva world aren’t online and many thousands would like to hear them, talk to them and ask their advice, the foot-soldiers of the Torah world shrug their shoulders and go on like automatons chewing Shas and poskim with little or no direction. Sometimes it’s even worse. A young bochur says, my rav or my magid shiur is so great, so wise, etc. An older guy tells him how naive he is and there are much greater in the world. Rav Ploni is nothing, forget about him. It’s not true. Who do you think you are that you can’t learn from someone, almost anyone on some level? Some musar is needed here.

  5. tzippi says:

    Maybe I’m not a father so I don’t have such a visceral reaction, but how about another option: the student’s mentor working in partnership with his parents?

  6. joel rich says:

    aiui that gemara is referring to a rebbi muvhak- a teacher who has taught that student the majority of his torah knowledge(extremely unusual today), otherwise father first is the rule here, and for respect.


  7. K R Heckert says:

    Garnel is right – the strongest father-figure in a person’s life should be the father – and he should share the role of baal eitzah with his ezer k’negdo – the boy’s mother. We send our boys away at fourteen to live in a dorm with other fourtenn-year-olds, let them come home one Shabbos a month, and then wonder why they have trouble connecting with a parent-figure, and later on have trouble forming a relationship with a spouse? Worse yet, we tell them that they are real bnei Torah, who know the Gemara, and the old man just doesn’t measure up to today’s standards, so don’t bother with his opinions. Only a Rosh Yeshiva is good enough. (I’ve heard bochurim openly correct their own fathers over the Shabbos table. I cringed, but the fathers just accepted it as if it were routine.)

    The father knows his children on a day-to-day basis, provides a role model in all the details of day-to-day life, and demonstrates how being a father/husband/ben Torah is actually lived. Does the bochur see his Rebbe at the supper table? Helping his wife get ready for Shabbos? Giving up a bit of well-earned rest when he gets up after dinner and goes out to a shiur? Keeps his temper when the car breaks down when he’s late? The father is there for those small but important questions every day, and therefore he will be trusted when the questins are not so small.

    You want to know how we got the youth rebellion of the Sixties? I was there, I’ll tell you. It was sending the kids away to college where we had in effect to raise each other. Of course, we also outnumbered the grownups (my high school had 3,000 students). I was lucky – I could talk to my mother (my father was niftar) but most of my friends couldn’t. They were stuck in the “youth culture.” In the frum world we have created the moral equivalent of the Sixties – teens without available parents. Kids can’t raise each other, or themselves. They need parents to raise them on a daily, constant basis. Rebbes won’t do. Even Roshei Yeshivah won’t do. Only the father and mother themselves will do (and not just one Shabbos a month.)

  8. tzippi says:

    R’ Heckert, you have a good point. Rabbi Orloweck, among others, has gone on record saying that if a boy has a healthy home atmosphere, he should stay in town for high school, even if the local school isn’t the perfect fit. (Of course we’re not talking about an untenable situation.)

    And coming home once a month? Not bad.

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