Friday, September 30, 2005

What does your child aspire to be?

Wolfish Musings posts about a disconcerting encounter with his son's yeshiva principal. Wolf's son loves animals and so far aspires to be zoologist. In short, he is a child with normal interests and aspirations.
As it turns out, my wife (W) had to go to the boys yeshiva to speak to the Menahel about a matter concerning my son (unrelated to the hamster). While she was there, she also mentioned the fact that his hamster had died and that he may be "out of sorts" for a day or so.

Now, this Menahel is a very fine gentleman, one for whom I have respect. In all the years that our kids have been in the yeshiva, he has always shown to have our children's best interests at heart. While other officials in the yeshiva are seemingly ready to knock the kids down (figuratively) whenever possible, he always looks to build them up. Of course, he is very Chareidi and has one view of the world, as was again illustrated to us this day.

So, W told the Menahel about the hamster and S1's attachment to it. She explained to him that he *really* loves animals and that he has aspirations to be a zoologist one day.

He looked at her and said "We had hopes that he'd aspire to be a Rosh Yeshiva."

It goes without saying that if the first paragraph had described Wolf's son as loving learning and aspiring to be a Rosh Yeshiva then he would also have normal interests and aspirations (okay, I lied--it didn't go without saying or else I wouldn't have said it). But the point is that there are other normal goals for children besides being a Rosh Yeshiva!

Allowing that the principal wasn't trying to make any kind of radical statement, and certainly taking into account that Wolf writes that he is a fine person, worthy of respect, one who seeks to build children up etc.--still, this is almost the kind of stale thinking that Eliezer Berkovitz deplored, particularly in his history of Halakhah, Lo Bashamayim Hi: The Nature and Function of Halakhah. He points out that in a real society there simply must--must!--be doctors as well as sanitation workers as well as scholars as well as even artists and poets--and zoologists too. The Torah envisions us as having a real society. Sadly, too many in communal leadership positions don't get that.

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