Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An Unformed Opinion

In 1951, a certain talmid chacham was asked to give a shiur Torah in a yeshiva geared toward less-committed students in Pardes Chanah. He did so for two days before he was beset with doubts. He had noticed one of the students seemed absorbed in something under his desk. After three warnings the maggid shiur approached the student’s desk and saw that he had a copy of the writings of Bialik under his desk. The teacher took the book and tossed it outside the classroom. The student got very upset by this and shouted, “Are we in a yeshiva which learns exclusively Torah? Today we have a test on Bialik and I must study. Since I am also required to be in this class, I obviously need to study during class. After all, why is Bialik less important than gemara?”
The more outspoken students agreed with the disgruntled student and the teacher felt that perhaps teaching in such a yeshiva was not for him. But of course such a decision was a very serious step to take. The maggid shiur packed his things and travelled to the Chazon Ish, zt”l, to ask for guidance.
When he met the Chazon Ish, he told him what had transpired.
“So what is your question?” asked the Chazon Ish.
“Do we not find that one should not teach a student who is unfit?”
“How old are your students?” asked the Chazon Ish.
“Between fourteen and fifteen,” was the answer.
“In such young student the term תלמיד שאינו הגון does not apply since they have not yet developed mature opinions. You can mold the future person and convince him of the error of his ways.”
The maggid shiur asked, “From what point is a young adult considered a תלמיד שאינו הגון, then?”
“From seventeen to eighteen is when they are more fixed in the way they see things and it is harder to convince them,” the gadol answered.
“I came here with a fully packed bag to ask whether I should go home to Yerushalayim or back to my position in Pardes Chanah.”
The Chazon Ish stated firmly, “Definitely go back. If you cannot succeed with all of them, you will convince half!”
Later on the maggid shiur calculated that he had indeed convinced exactly half of his students to join a full time yeshiva for yeshiva gedolah!

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