This is, however, not the only area where emotions play a role in study. In fact, in future blogs, I hope to discuss the many areas where emotions are crucial to Torah study, including such emotions as satisfaction, curiosity, motivation, engagement, joy, even anger – ritcha d’oraita. These are all positive emotions that are connected to study, which we ideally like to see manifest in our students. I hope that after the chagim, I will be able to post twice a week. Once, to discuss these issues on a theoretical and practical level, and the second time, to share real-life stories and videos of my friends, students or blog readers.
In the meantime, I want to share the following beautiful story of how having a connection to a tzadik (in this story, R. Shimon Biderman, the Lelover Rebbe ztz"l) can completely transform a person. R. Natanel Raphaeli, who tells the story below (in Hebrew), also derives an excellent lesson from it, which he applies to teachers and students. After hearing the story, members of the class mentioned various seforim that offer a deeper understanding of the Lelover Rebbe’s actions – such as the Rambam, the Baal Shem Tov, and R. Tzadok HaKohen of Lublin. If you would like to read or download these sources, please click here. (The sources are in Hebrew, if I get enough requests, I will translate them to English.)
R. Natanel Raphaeli
9th grade Rebbe, Horev Yeshiva, Jerusalem
Whoever hears this story wants to tell it to their friends. It contains many important lessons, such as never giving up hope, a Jew’s connection with am Yisroel, and the power of educating through kindness and gentleness. However, to my mind, the main message is the power of love and friendship to uplift a person’s soul.
To me, the main lesson is that when a teacher forms a bond of true friendship with his students, he can uplift them. By drawing them close to him, he opens inroads to their hearts, which will then be open to hearing the Torah’s holy teachings.
Practically speaking, it is important to speak casually with the students, and to be sincerely concerned with their interests. To develop a friendship through various activities, throughout the year, and to connect all the topics one teaches to their lives. These types of actions draw the student close to his teacher, his studies, and enables him form a true connection to Torah, which is filled with positive feelings and experiences.