Two points about Chinuch – Rav Yaakov Kamanetzky

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As mentioned in earlier emails,a recent Hamodia Kinyan L’Shabbos magazine contains a most interesting article about Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky, ZT”L.

The following is from Rabbi Berel Wein’s recollections of his interactions with Reb Yaakov.

Years later, when Rabbi Wein opened Yeshivah Shaarei Torah in Monsey, he received from Rav Yaakov guidelines that are as trenchant and relevant today as when they were handed down.

“Rav Yaakov articulated two points about chinuch. The first is that a yeshivah should not be a Sodom bed, where everybody must· either be stretched or chopped down in order to fit in. Do not force conformity; allow for people’s differences. The second is that a yeshivah is made to include, not to exclude. You should never expel a boy without dramatic cause.

“In my twenty years in the yeshivah, I had to send away two boys. When I asked Rav Yaakov about doing so, he told me that I must find a place for them to go first.
Reading the two points that Reb Yaakov made to Rabbi Wein, I can only wonder why today individuality seems to be frowned upon. When one looks at the gedolim that Slabodka produced, one cannot help but notice how different each of these Torah giants was. Reb Yaakov was not like Reb Aaron, who was not like Rav Ruderman, who was not like the Seridei Aish, who was not like Rav Lessin, etc. The genius of the Alter of Slabodka was that he educated each of his talmidim in a manner that was best for them, and hence he brought out the best in each of them. He most certainly did not use a “cookie cutter approach.”

Reb Yaakov’s comment about finding a place for a student who is to be expelled is also something that does not seem to be adhered to today. Other Rabbeim like Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz were of the same opinion.

Don’t we hear about many boys and girls who have no yeshiva to attend and hence end up doing who knows what!