Igneous rock and logarithm are not musical terms.

The slide rule is not about how to conduct yourself at the playground.

In case these terms are not at your fingertips, may I remind you:

Igneous rock is one of the three main rock types, the others being sedimentary and metamorphic.  Igneous rock is formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava.

A logarithm is a quantity representing the power to which a fixed number (the base) must be raised to produce a given number.  I hope you found that definition more helpful than I did.

And a slide rule is a ruler with a sliding central strip, marked with logarithmic scales and used for making rapid calculations, especially multiplication and division.

I have heard children complain that limudei chol are a waste of time because “I’m never going to use it.” 

I was taught all about igneous rock, logarithms, and how to use a slide rule when I was in school.  I’ve never used any of them.  Let’s not even talk about physics.  Do you really expect me to believe that when I push down on a table, it pushes back with an equal and opposite force?  At least in chem class we made some cool explosions!

There is at least one thing every child who says “I’m never going to use it” needs to learn: the aphorism All generalizations are false, including this one.

It is true that I never used physics, geology, or advanced mathematics in my roles as a Rav and a therapist.  When I was learning these subjects in junior high and high school my main focus in life was to get finished with school and get a driver’s license.  I really didn’t know which things I would someday need to know and which would be irrelevant for me.

As I recall, except for physics, I did take all of it seriously and actually enjoyed much of it!  But today, many children question the value of these subjects.

How do you convince your child that limudei chol are important?


You probably won’t, and that is not the problem.  The problem is that some children fail to differentiate between treating a subject as irrelevant and treating a person as irrelevant.


There are twenty four aveiros that are m’akvim es hateshuva, block one from repenting...some of them because the majority of people consider them of minor importance.  He sins, imagining that what he does is no sin at all.  One of these is

a person who acquires honor by disgracing his fellow, for he thinks that he committed no sin, as his fellow was not there and did not feel the shame, as he did not shame him in person.  (Rambam, Hilchos Teshuva, Perek 4: Halachos 1 and 4)


Anyone who descends into Geihenam ultimately comes up except for three who descend and do not come up, and they are: One who commits adultery; one who humiliates another in public; and one who calls another a derogatory name.  Isn’t one who calls another a derogatory name identical to one who shames him? [It comes to include a case where] he grew accustomed to being called that name and no longer suffers humiliation by being called that name, since the intent was to insult him.  (Baba Metzia 58b with Rashi)


One who humiliates another in public; and one who calls another a derogatory name.

Who is the another we are concerned about here?


Love your friend [rai-acha] as yourself. (Vayikra, 19:18) Rabbi Akiva says: This is the most important rule in the Torah."

Ben Azzai says: This is the narrative of the generations of man; [on the day that Elokim created man, in the likeness of Elokim created him.] (Braishis 5:1) is a more important rule.  (Talmud Yerushalmi, Nedarim 30b)

This is the story of the generations and events of the human species.  (Siporno, ibid.)

Rabbi Akiva seems to consider the other limited to rai-acha.

According to the Siporno, Ben Azzai would apply these behavioral standards to our treatment of every human being.

Where does the disrespectful attitude that leads to these hurtful behaviors come from?  What happened to basic derech eretz, concern for kiddush Hashem, cultivation of middos tovos and menschlichkeit?

How do you teach your children to respect someone whom they think doesn’t deserve their respect?

It can be difficult.  I’ll give you two examples of when it was difficult for me.

I was in an ordinary supermarket.  Opposite the cashier they had a rack full of candy products from Boro Park all either Pareve or Chalov Yisrael.  The pre-school son of the woman in front of me asked her for a candy.  She looked at the candy rack, turned to her child, and said that’s not kosher.  I chose to contain myself from saying you just lied.  That would have been an accurate and disrespectful statement so I remained silent.

On the street in front of a pizza shop, a man yelled out from his double parked car to his adolescent son do you have a brain?  I chose to contain myself from saying do you have a heart?  That would have been an accurate and disrespectful statement so I remained silent.

Did either of these parents deserve my respect?

Teach your children that when you don’t feel respect for someone, anyone, you behave respectfully just the same.

Teach them the klal gadol that Hillel taught.  If you wouldn’t want to be disrespected, don’t disrespect anyone else.  (Shabbos 31a)

And teach them the corollary: Eizehu mekubad?  Hamechabed es habriyos.  Who is honored?  The one who honors the briyos, every one of Hashem’s creations.  (Avos 4:1)


Rabbi Yitzchak Shmuel Ackerman is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with specialties in marriage, dating, and parenting.

He is the author of Confident Parents, Competent Children, in Four Seconds at a Time  Available at bookstores and on Amazon.

He can be reached at 718-344-6575.