Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Value of Normalcy

I just heard another great shiur by Rabbi Yisroel Reisman and he made two great points that are relevant to Jewish life in general and to Jewish education in particular.  First, he was speaking about the importance of knowing Tna'ch (Torah, Nevi'im, Ksuvim) basics such is who, what, where and when.  He made a point that sometimes people make mistakes or come up with questions that could be easily resolved simply by looking at the plain meaning of the texts.  The second point that he made is that one should not overlook normalcy as a Torah value, obviously within the parameters of Halacha(Jewish Law). He said that we have to understand and explain to our children/students that it's normal for human beings to make mistakes and not always behave or think like angels.  That one should take Judaism and its' obligations seriously but not cross the boundary into pathological behavior which can manifest as OCD or depression.  I'd like to extend this into the realm of education.  Firstly, acquiring the basic knowledge of Tna'ch should be a required component of any Jewish curriculum as well as basic learning skills of reading, translating and being able to read the commentaries.  I believe that making it a priority throughout our children's elementary education and beyond will serve them well in life and in their studies.  As to the second point, we have to make a distinction between striving for perfection to the best of our abilities and perfectionism.   Additionally,  as I wrote a few posts ago, we need to let go of perfectionism in trying to educate our children as well and cut ourselves some slack, allow ourselves to make mistakes, learn from them and move on, for that too is part of education for life.


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