R. Yehonatan Yosef
I chose this story because I think that teachers can learn from it how to connect emotionally with their students – even problematic ones. It also seems to me that education is not just about transmitting material didactically, but, more than anything else, about building an emotional connection with the students – “like water reflects the face.”
A True Aliyah
I heard a short story from a friend of mine, which I would like to share. My friend has a son who recently turned fourteen. My friend came to realize that, more than a year after his son’s bar-mitzvah, the boy was still not observing certain mitzvos – birchas hamazon, tefillah, and even tefillin – at least, not with any consistency. My friend found himself constantly having to remind his son to do these things, and even then, hardly got the results that he expected. This made him tense, upset and even angry, which obviously didn’t help their relationship. At a certain point, my friend became concerned that his son was falling away from yiddishkeit – a thought that distressed him deeply and made him even more upset and impatient. (His reaction may sound extreme, but I don’t think it is unusual. I have seen it among many others with rebellious teenage children.)
One day, however, the father’s perspective changed. He suddenly realized that his son was not falling away from Torah; rather, he had not yet grown up to Torah. His aliyah to the Torah in shul was not reflected in an aliyah to the Torah in his life. In other words, his son had not yet become “bar-mitzvah” in the true sense of the word, which was to identify himself as someone who lives under the obligation of mitzvos.
This realization totally changed the situation. His son was not rebelling, as the father had feared; he simply needed more time to grow up. From then on, rather than dealing with him with strictness, the father related to him with patience and encouragement. Immediately, their relationship improved, and eventually, the boy began to be more careful with mitzvah observance, on his own.
Faith and Patience
Rabbi Nachman also connected these ideas. He writes:
Faith is the aspect of growing power and sprouting power. When a person has faith, nothing deters him, and he is not afraid of any person or anything in the world. When his faith is blemished, though, he lacks the power to grow and sprout.
This is the concept of “slow to anger” (Shemos 24:6), which depends upon faith. In other words, through faith, one merits patience. One will be patient with regard to any confusion or obstacle that he faces in his prayer and worship. He will be forbearing towards everything; he will never be sad or slothful because of this obstacle. Rather, he will restrain himself from anger, and not be bothered by it whatsoever. Through this, he grows and blossoms, and is successful in his service. All this itt he aspect of faith, the aspect of growing and sprouting power. (Likutey Moharan 1:155)