In the video: Supported those who left on the question, believed in education "in the ways of Noam": the educational legacy of Rabbi Edelstein (documentation on social networks according to section 27A of the Copyright Law)
Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, the leader of the Lithuanian community in the ultra-Orthodox sector who passed away on Tuesday, left behind a huge void. Beyond his greatness and knowledge of Torah, his decisions on public and political issues, the century-old rabbi was in his life an educational authority whose moderate approach managed to surprise many time after time. Counselors, heads of institutions and parents would come to consult with him and receive his blessing on educational issues that are most crucial to the fate of their children.
Thus, for example, the rabbi was known for his inclusive attitude towards those who came out on the question. In 2018, a video was posted in which he said that a non-observant child should be treated with "respect and friendship." According to him, a boy who brings home a girl should also be accepted with understanding and buy him "secular clothes" if he so requests, because there is no point in fighting his desires. At that meeting, educators from the United States came and asked him questions from parents. One of them told of an ultra-Orthodox boy who came out with a question, was walking with his father on a Friday night and then lit a cigarette. He asked whether the father should protest against his son for desecrating the Sabbath or turn a blind eye. The rabbi replied: "No, no. It is forbidden to protest."
"Forced education is reverse education." Rabbi Edelstein (Photo: Flash 90, David Cohen)
In another part of the meeting, the rabbi was also asked, "What if the son brought a girl home? Should he be taken out of the house? The rabbi replied: "No! God forbid." Even when the educator continued to ask: "How can this happen in an ultra-Orthodox home?" The rabbi insisted: "There is no other way." This unusual approach characterized this moderation in Rabbi Edelstein's treatment of a phenomenon that many families in the ultra-Orthodox community find difficult to contain after one of their children leaves religion.
His moderate educational approach was also reflected during the COVID-19 period. The rabbi was then asked how to relate to children who sit at home "and lose the dimension of time and go to bed late and get up late, how long to pray with them?" The rabbi replied: "In a pleasant way, without coercion. The children know what is good and should be encouraged to have a good time. Forcing a child? Forbidden. Forced education is reverse education. Opposite result. Only in an interesting and friendly way."
The rabbi added: "The child does what the father does, so that the child will not feel that there is criticism of him at all, because if he feels that way, it hurts him a lot."
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