Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein wrote:
“The way to educate youngsters is to elevate them by pointing out the greatness they can achieve by utilizing their potential.”
Sources: Ohr Yechezkel – Michtavim, p.219; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Happiness, p.133
4 thoughts on “Quoting: Show Children Their Greatness”
Regrettably, this quote is merely an empty platitude. It cannot be more, nor useful at all, until it is coupled with some indication of how this can be done, perhaps by showing some successful example.
Perhaps the method is implied as it states in Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Well, you see, that’s exactly my point, James. Proverbs are all very well and good, but they are lacking in substance. It’s not unlike the problem of determining how to apply the Torah. For example, Torah tells us Jews about fringes containing a blue thread on the corners of our garments, and about binding the Torah onto our hands and placing its precepts between our eyes, but it doesn’t include instructions about how to produce the desired color of blue dye, nor how to tie each fringe, nor how to construct or wear the tefillin, let alone how to interpret these physical symbols to accomplish the spiritual effect for which they are intended. These practical details were all left within the realm of the Oral Torah of cultural transmission. You’ve written extensively on your Morning Meditations blog about the difficulties faced by non-Jewish disciples of Rav Yeshua who are not to be constrained by traditional Jewish praxis and must therefore develop their own that is nonetheless consistent with the principles of Torah. The problem here, that you understand so well, is exactly similar: to take the pithy advice of a proverb and translate it into a successful program of action.
There does need to be a context, whether in a Torah community or another type of community. And part of the context would be the parent(s) or whoever is doing the teaching to which is referred in the platitude or any number of proverbs. I do like the idea of elevating children, though, as opposed to letting loose negative attitudes some adults have toward children. Yet, a simple imploring to think of potential in the sense of being positive or a winner or successful or expecting to be seen as great can be very distorted and result in someone (or groups of people) out of touch with truth or reality. Such parents or educators may already be somewhat disoriented (even if well off or well off enough in the sense of material goods). That, in turn, can result in lack of continued well-being or diminution of substantial potential. No matter how formidable or humble materially, people should flesh out a broad sense of values.