Thursday, December 28, 2017


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Vayechi
11 Teves 5778/December 29, 2017

During one of my visits to Eretz Yisroel a few years ago, I was getting ready to shave before Shabbos. Although my shaver was wired for American outlets, I had purchased a bunch of converters that would enable my devices to work in Israeli outlets as well. I plugged the shaver into the converter, which I then plugged into the outlet. As soon as I turned it on, I heard a pop and saw a bit of smoke. I had clearly blown the fuse.
It reminded me of a more dramatic story about “outlet woes” that I once read. Shortly after their marriage, Rav Chaim Pinchos Scheinberg, and his wife, Rebbitzin Pessie, moved from New York to the village of Mir in Europe, so Rav Scheinberg could attend the famed Yeshiva there. (This was before World War II when traveling from New York to Europe to learn Torah was virtually unheard of.)
During her first week there, Rebbitzin Scheinberg plugged the hairdryer she had brought from home, and blew the power... in the entire village!
(As an aside, it’s worth taking a moment to marvel at the self-sacrifice of Rebbitzin Scheinberg a”h for the sake of her husband’s Torah learning. She gave up the standard comforts of New York, to move to prewar Europe, where they didn’t even have indoor plumbing.)
I’m far from being an electrician, in fact, I can hardly do more than change a lightbulb. However, I understand that if a plug’s wattage is not matched up to the wattage in the outlet, it won’t work.
In his book “The Motivation Breakthrough: 6 secrets to turning on the tuned-out child”, Rick Lavoie explains why some children (and adults) seem to be unmotivated. The core issue may be a lack of understanding of “what makes the child tick”, particularly if his motivation differs from that of his parents and/or teachers.
There are eight forces of motivation: gregariousness, autonomy, status, inquisitiveness, aggression, power, recognition, and affiliation. Lavoie explains in detail the character traits and personality associated with each type of motivator. This this is surely not an exact science, because no one fits perfectly into any one category. However, understanding patterns helps us understand inner workings, and grant much insight into how we can best motivate a child (and ourselves).
Why is this concept so important? Very often a parent, teacher, (or employer), may struggle to understand why there is a seeming disconnect between him/her and a specific child (or employee). At times, it may be a matter of undertaking how the child’s motivation differs from the educators.
A plug can only draw energy if it is compatible with the outlet. If not, an electrician may be able to adjust the wattage by altering wires (or whatever they do when they play with the wires behind the wall, as it appears to this ignorant writer).
As educators, we often need to adjust our own perspective and understanding about what motivates our children. Sometimes it’s a matter of recognizing that the child is not unmotivated, as much as he is motivated in a different way than we are.
Changing the wiring isn’t easy, but it can be done with patience and expertise. The alternative of just letting things remain as they are, can result in blowing the fuse.

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

              R’ Dani and Chani Staum