Thursday, June 19, 2014


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Korach
Pirkei Avos – Perek 3 --- 22 Sivan 5774/June 20, 2014

During my years in yeshiva Shaarei Torah a mentally unstable fellow named Moshe would at times circulate the yeshiva. At times he even sat in on a high-level gemara shiur and would offer his (nonsensical) comments. He was a pleasant person so no one was too bothered by him.
On one occasion a group of high school boys were making a video about earthquakes, part of a project for their earth science class. They interviewed Moshe and asked him where he thought the best place to be is in case of an earthquake. He thought for a second and replied, “You really want to know? Yerushalayim!”
What about during a power outage? What's the last place you'd like to be in if the electricity goes out? I would venture to think a moving elevator. Getting stuck in a cramped dark confined room with no idea of what's happening outside can undoubtedly be panic provoking.
A few months ago in yeshiva Bais Hachinuch that is exactly what happened. One afternoon a powerful fast-moving crossed our area and knocked out the electricity. At first no one realized that someone was stuck in the elevator. But shortly after two burly equipped firemen hastily entered the building, pick axes in hand and headed towards the sealed elevator.
A crowd of excited students gathered in the dark hall and listened as one of the firemen rapped on the door and called out. Pressing his ear to the door, the fireman was able to hear a woman respond that she was trapped in the elevator. She had been heading up to the offices on the top floor when the power went out. The elevator was stuck halfway between the floor beneath the yeshiva and the floor that the yeshiva occupied.
It took the firemen a few minutes but they soon pried the doors open and helped pull the woman out of the elevator to the excited applause of the young spectators who were then shoed back into their classrooms.
This week I had the pleasure of attending the Chumash seudah of our son Avi, who is b’h now concluding Pre-1A. It was a beautiful event with his numerous classmates seated alongside him on stage. It was stirring to see how each of the children sang on cue, bellowing passionately the words of the chumash and the songs they were taught about the sweetness of Torah.
There was not a child up there who doesn’t want to ascend the rungs of Torah greatness and be a source of nachas for his parents and teachers. But unfortunately in every class there are a few students whose growth ‘gets stuck’. They feel shut out and stuck in place even as they watch classmates continue to rise. There are many labels used to explain those individual power outages, ranging from auditory processing, ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia, low IQ, lack of motivation, social/emotional/familial issues, etc. But the common denominator is that those stuck children often wordlessly cry out wordlessly and can’t be heard.
Then there are those special educators who can hear those cries and have the unique priceless gift to be able to reach every student. They are the ones who can pry open those sealed doors and manually hoist their students toward feeling a sense of accomplishment.
There isn’t an educator in any of our schools who isn’t a hero. Teaching is the most valuable and integral profession we have, despite the fact that teachers are often underpaid and underappreciated. But those educators who can reach students deemed ‘unreachable’ are our superheroes.  
As the school-year comes to a close let’s take a moment to salute the greatest heroes we have, the ones with whom we have entrusted the education of our greatest treasures!

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,
            R’ Dani and Chani Staum           

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