Do you home school your children?
Of course you do. Every parent does.
Some parents Home School their children. They teach their children at home
instead of sending them to school.
But in every home, every parent teaches their children much of what they learn.
You teach your children patience, generosity, integrity, tolerance, acceptance,
compassion, empathy, and all of the other wonderful middos you exhibit. You’re an
incredible middos machine, all day, every day.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? It is great. It’s what you hope to accomplish for yourself
as a person and for your child to learn from you. Like most great accomplishments,
it’s difficult to achieve and even harder to sustain.
How great an accomplishment are good Middos? Middos are the precursor and the
pre-requisite to education. We learn that from Yaakov Aveinu.
And he (Yaakov Aveinu) sent Yehuda ahead “l’horos l’fanav.” Braishis 46:28
L’horos l’fanav: to set up for him a house of study from which would come
instruction. (Rashi, ibid)
Yaakov sent Yehuda ahead to set up a yeshiva.
We need to think about this. He should have sent Yissachar who represents the
koach of Torah as it says: Of the children of Yissochor, men with understanding of
the times, to know what Yisroel should do… (Divrei HaYomim I 12:33)
Or [he should have sent] Levi for we find later that Yaakov Aveinu A”H set him
apart and appointed him to be the leader and placed him into the yeshiva to teach
the ways of Hashem, as the Rambam wrote (raish hilchos avodas kochavim).
So why did he specifically send Yehuda?
Because we find in Yehuda the foundation of middos tovos as seen from the episode
with Tamar when he acknowledged the truth and said “tzadkah mi-meni” even
though this was a great shame for him, as the midrashim teach. To establish a
bais Talmud is only possible by way of middos tovos. They are the preparation and
condition for our holy Torah. Without middos, Torah cannot be acquired. This is
why Yaakov Aveinu sent Yehudah. (Mevaser Tov on Midos and Mitzvos Bain Adam
l’Chaveiro, maamar sheini page 58)
You can choose to Home School your children in Torah subjects, secular subjects,
both, or neither.
You do home school them in middos. It’s your choice which middos you model.
The middos you model the most consistently are the middos your children will
learn. Middos tovos are the preparation and precursor, the pre-requisite condition
for the Torah you hope they will learn.
Very nice thought, but you don’t know the terrible things my child says to me. I’m
supposed to let him get away with it?
Definitely not. That would be irresponsible. You are responsible to teach your
child what you expect of him and discipline him effectively when he does something
You’re also responsible for how you go about it. You know the expression, “two
wrongs don’t make a right.” Saying something nasty or yelling angrily at a child
because he wronged you is a second wrong, and it doesn’t make it all right. Expect
more from your child, and expect better from yourself.
“Treat all people with equal respect and sensitivity. React calmly even to someone
who has just insulted you maliciously, and remain calm even when an irritating
nuisance pesters you incessantly.
“All people includes even those whom one usually takes for granted – one’s
parents, spouse, and children. Be as calm and courteous to your immediate family
as you are to your superior or most important client.
“Never lose your temper – even when you are exhausted, drained, disappointed,
aggravated, shocked, confused, terrified. Even when the whole world seems to
be crashing down on your head – keep calm. React slowly and deliberately – and
speak gently.” (Rav Avrohom Chaim Feuer on Iggeres HaRamban/A Letter for the
Ages, Artscroll Mesorah edition, pg 27-28, italics in original)
The middah that enables us to remain calm and speak gently is savlanus.
What is savlanus? It is not patience. It is tolerance. It means putting up with
someone or something unpleasant, inappropriate, or unfair. Rav Woble, z’tl,
addresses this at length in Alui Shur, II, shaar sheni , chapter 7, a chapter entitled
“Anger or Savlanus.” Rav Wolbe quotes the Orchos Chaim of the Rosh, “Keep
away from frivolity and anger,” and adds, “everyone who becomes angry knows
this of himself: when he is angry, his heart is not with him; it is as if he changes
into another person, a stranger, not himself.”
Rav Wolbe explains that you cannot express a measured response when you’re
angry. The basis for responding appropriately, effectively disciplining your child, is
savlanus. He spends the rest of the chapter, nine sections, on how to achieve and
For most of us, savlanus can be difficult. You don’t just decide to be sovail instead
of getting angry.
In the first of these vaadim, Rav Wolbe spells out the methodology for acquiring
“We shall set aside about 15 minutes per day during which we will work at be sovail
everything we see and hear, even if we disagree with or are bothered by it. We
will not lose our menuchas hanefesh at all. If a situation arises to which we need
or are obligated to respond, we’ll respond with carefully measured words with no
emotional stress. We will work on this when we are spending time with friends,
learning or over a meal.” Rav Wolbe suggests practicing this way for a few weeks
before trying to build your savlanus at different times of the day with different
friends in various settings.
A few weeks!? Yes. Rav Wolbe in vaad shlishi spells out the importance of
cultivating savlanus with ourselves, having realistic expectations for ourselves. The
Vilna Gaon (on Mishlei 19:3) writes, “Each person has to proceed according to his
level and not jump.” Rav Wolbe adds, “Savlanus is not only for b’di-avad [after
the fact], not just to prevent despair after we have fallen short. Savlanus requires
us to exercise forethought, a calm consideration of what to realistically expect of
And what to expect of your child. In vaad revi’i Rav Wolbe writes:
“So much savlanus is necessary in chinuch habanim! Only with boundless savlanus
can you come to insightful responses and guidance built on understanding the child
and his nature, to fulfill, chanoch l’naar al pi darko.
“Work on savlanus towards your family. Set a fixed time to strengthen savlanus.
It should particularly be a time of frequent frustration, such as in the morning when
the children need to get to school or at bedtime… and Erev Shabbos.”
Your home is a school. Remember that the s’vivah, the ambience and
temperament you create in your home, teaches your children middos and enables
them to learn everything else.
Rabbi Yitzchak Shmuel Ackerman is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with
specialties in marriage, relationships, and parenting. He works with parents and
educators, and conducts parenting seminars for shuls and organizations. He can be
reached at 718-344-6575. ...