3 Kislev 5778 / Tuesday, November 21, 2017 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
 
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Pain in the Class    

Pain in the Class



Hashem has rules in His classroom; we, as students, sometimes break those rules whether intentionally or accidently, causing a rift between us and our Teacher…

 



Entering each class I really don’t know what to expect. Sometimes I’m afraid and other times just anxious to finish the hour. Being a teacher in some of Jerusalem’s roughest schools has been the most challenging career I’ve ever had. If I never got into the Emuna way of life I’d never have made it.

 

I was explaining the present progressive rule to a group of 13 tough teenagers who really care about their hair and iPhones. Then trouble started… But first some background. This school I teach at is for students who have nearly left their connection to keeping Torah. They are very anti. Everyone is coming from a different story of trauma from some so called “Rabbi” abusing them verbally for not being good or religious enough.

 

Although we had some classes that were quite successful, more often than not I couldn’t hold my ground. Unfortunately arguments were frequent as well as complete classroom breakdowns. Many times the arguing between me and the students were like a ping pong game. Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom the words and subsequent regrets would go back and forth. Luckily I learned from experience to control this and just let things go. Take a deep breath for a few seconds and then make an intelligent decision that will guide the class back to the course material.

 

 

On one occasion in particular one of my students and I started arguing about why he couldn’t stop talking about irrelevant issues in the class. He kept interrupting me while I was trying to teach, thus preventing him from sharing something inappropriate with the guys. This kept repeating itself over and over. The frustration I felt was indescribable. Here I was trying to help these heavily “at risk” teens and give them a chance in life and for what?? So they can talk about their girlfriends in my class? Funny thing was that every time he started with his classmates, and I called him out on it, he apologized. “Don’t worry teacher, it won’t happen again,” over and over again the same interruption with the same dull heartless apology. I was losing my mind and self- control.

 

That same day I left the school in anguish about my fate with these kids. I was feeling really down but then luckily I started to remember specific points that Rav Brody and Rav Arush always mention in their classes: there is a reason for everything, everything is for the good and that it is coming from God. How, I wondered to myself, could this problematic teen be for the good? I was ready to never come back to work!

 

I came home and took an hour to myself for my daily personal prayer session also known as hitbodedut in Hebrew. Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches the critical importance of every individual setting aside time for secluded prayer and contemplation about one’s purpose in life and whether or not they are on the right track. So there I was on my roof talking to God about my day. I took about 20 minutes to say many thanks about the good things I have, then another 20 minutes to analyze my day’s major events including the showdown in the class, and another 30 minutes praying for self-improvement.

 

In the session about analyzing the quarrel in class I simply said to Hashem, “G-d, You do everything for the best and even though this really hurts I believe that with my logic aside this conflict was for a purpose to teach me something.” Remember he kept interrupting me and then apologized with little to no sincerity. I went on talking to G-d while looking at the beautiful view and asked innocently, what is it you are trying to show me??!! And BOOOOOM- I got the answer!!!

 

I remembered the Garden of Education's teaching that our children and students are simply a mirror of our own selves! What? How can that be, this student is a student and I’m the teacher. This was about an interrupting class clown and who am I interrupting? What’s the connection with a mirror? Within moments I received a tremendous spiritual clarity of what God was trying to teach me, namely that this student is a reflection of me. But how? Dear friend pay attention to this!

 

I am a teacher, but I am a student in life- G-d, our loving Father in Heaven is The Ultimate Teacher. G-d has rules in His classroom, meaning Torah law in the world. I as a student, sometimes break those rules whether intentionally or accidently causing a rift between me and my Teacher. In my case as a student who is in the class of The Teacher (G-d), it’s my responsibility as a decent student to apologize when needed to maintain a positive and productive connection as we move throughout the course, meaning my lifespan.

 

So now check this out!!! Just like that student- I make tons of mistakes that upset the teacher, G-d, on a daily basis. Looking at a girl I shouldn’t, gossiping, violating a Torah law here and there. And what do I do to Hashem in my personal prayers? I’m giving the same exact wussy apology with absolute no feeling or sincerity to God. But what’s worse, the very next day I do it again, with the same heartless cold fish apology!!

 

When I understood this message in my hitbodedut I couldn’t stop smiling! I had succeeded in applying the Emuna principles, understood the message- that namely, when I’m apologizing it really isn’t so honest. But what’s great? God was showing me how he felt about my own insincere confessions through an exact same situation in the class. Now with the High Holidays approaching I know that I need to warm up my heart when confiding my mistakes to God.

 

This is the type of clarity that allows us to start the day fresh. A person without an hour with their Loving Creator is doomed to blaming everyone and everything without ever taking a look at themselves and truly growing to be happy. Personal prayer and the advice of Rabbi Shalom Arush are the keys our generation needs to successfully overcome the countless challenges we all face without going insane.

 

HOMEWORK:

 

The next time you find yourself in a jam with a person or situation, remember the Emuna Principles. It’s from God, for the best and for a reason. What’s the Creator trying to teach you through these life experiences? Take that hour of personal assessment and be real with G-d. Ask him, “Dear Father in Heaven, what’s the message you are trying to show me, I believe in You and that it’s for the best. As a free gift please open my heart to understanding my given situation and help me honestly improve myself.”

 

Blessings for a wonderful New Year!





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