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16 January 2018


Rav Gershon Edelstein [Shlit”a] On How to Deal with Those Who Leave the Fold [TRANSCRIPT OF THE VIDEO TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH]


Avi Fishoff: The Rosh Yeshiva has stated clearly that when a child is behaving in a corrupt manner (off the derech) he needs to be treated only with “כבוד וידידות” – “respect and heartfelt warm friendship”
Rav Gershon shlyt”a agrees: DEFINITELY – DEFINITELY

Avi: We are following the method of the Rosh Yeshiva, but on your path of “respect and heartfelt friendship” there are a thousand questions…
When we go with “כבוד וידידות” as we should treat all of our children – or perhaps this child should be treated with even more “respect and heartfelt friendship” because he doesn’t feel good about himself… he doesn’t feel like other normal children…
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: YES – YES

Avi: So now the child is at home, but still doesn’t really feel these feelings of “כבוד וידידות” because he knows that he is a disappointment to his father and mother…
Rav Wagshall: They look down at him in a negative way
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: THAT’S NOT GOOD – NOT GOOD

Avi: I think that when the Rosh Yeshiva says that we need to treat the child with respect and heartfelt friendship, he doesn’t mean that we just ‘act’ that way, but that the child should actually feel it
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: OF COURSE – OF COURSE

The Rosh Yeshivah is very clear that parents of children acting out against the Torah must deal with them ONLY in a way of respect and warm admiration that will cause the child to TRULY BELIEVE AND FEEL in his essence that his parents really accept him as he is right now.


Avi: If a child goes with clothing that is different than the clothing of the family and the parents don’t buy the child his clothing, then the child knows that [they do not approve of him]…
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: OF COURSE – OF COURSE
Rav Wagshall: They can buy it for them??
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Avada – There is no other way – there is no other choice
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: or perhaps try to explain that it is not worthwhile [to dress that way]… that the frum clothing is nicer…
Rav Wagshall: But what if the child is not accepting our opinion… and wants to dress like… like…
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: then there is no other way [but to buy it]

Avi: Is there a hallachic problem of “מסייע” (helping someone sin) by buying clothing that is not tzanua according to hallachah?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: why would it be…

Avi: Because we are giving her money and she buys clothing against hallachah?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: And beforehand she was dressing properly?
Avi: Certainly not.

Avi: But People think that if they will give money for things that are not allowed, then why does the child need to ever change his ways and come back? But I think it works the other way around…
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Of course – the child knows what the parents really want…

Rav Lobenstein: They should supply the child with what he needs right now, and give it with a good heart and that wins over the child…
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: OF COURSE – OF COURSE

Avi: Can we actually buy not tzniusdik clothing [for her to wear] if she anyway has been dressing that way?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: there is no other way [to properly deal with this situation]

Avi: what should their intentions be [when supplying her with clothing that is against the Torah]?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: That he should do teshuva!

Avi: So the parents should be mechaven lisheim shamayim (as a remedy to bring the child back to Yiddishkeit)
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Yes

Avi: And there is no “לפני עור” (causing a person to sin)?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: This is the only way to heal them – this is the beginning of the necessary process to bring them back… this is the medicine… it brings them back

The Rosh Yeshivah is clear that parents may supply dvarim assurim (ex: buying not tzniyussdik clothing) and there is no issue of “לפני עור” or “מסייע” since this is the MEDICINE to be mikarev them and bring them back to the right path.

* אנוסים – FORCED *

Avi: Does the Rosh Yeshiva look at these children as חולים (sick)… אנוסים (forced), חולה נפש (emotionally sick), חולה רוחני (spiritually sick)?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: אנוסים – Forced to sin!

Avi: אנוסים? Everyone who sins is considered אונס (forced)?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: רוח שטות – a wave of insanity [is controlling them now]

Avi: A bigger רוח שטות [then normal Yidden face]…
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Yes, it’s a רוח שטות – he does not understand [what he is doing] (HE CAN NOT CONTROL HIMSELF NOW)

The Rosh Yeshivah clearly says that we must look at people who go off the derech as “אנוסים!!!” who are hijacked and “forced” to sin, and they are NOT CAPABLE to make the reight decision and behave according to the Torah at this time in their life!


Avi: And the treatment to remedy this sickness is…
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Yedidus! (a warm feeling of heartfelt friendship)

Avi: True friendship means that I accept you the way that you are right now [without trying to change you]
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: YES – YES

Avi: Can you supply them?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: YES – YES

Avi: Because supplying them causes them to 100% feel our honor and friendship.
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: CERTAINLY

Avi: and when we don’t supply them they don’t feel the honor and friendship
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: OF COURSE – OF COURSE

The Rosh Yeshivah clearly says that we should SUPPLY the children with their current needs in order to prove to them that we TRULY ACCEPT them so that they REALLY FEEL our respect and warm friendship.


Avi: Are they sometimes mentally unwell? Many of these kids cannot sleep, suffer from various anxieties, fears, they have many mental problems too.
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: YES, that is true

Avi: So aside from the spiritual challenges they may have psychological challenges as well
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: This is the cause for that – it’s together – one is linked to the other… [especially when] he feels he has no father or mother [that love him]

Rav Lobenstein: We have not yet found a boy who went off the derech and became a successful chiloni (not frum) – they are acting this way because they became twisted in the head
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: A רוח שטות (wave of insanity) –

Avi: they are “forced” for a few years? Can one be considered “אונס” (forced) for five years?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: YES – YES

Avi: Until…
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: until he calms down… and stable… and be “שמח בחלקו” (be happy with his life)

Rav Lobenstein: And through the friendship and the calm in the house, when the parents stop knocking him and raging against him and it becomes calm in the house…
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: …he becomes “שמח בחלקו” (which is necessary for him to be chozer bitshuvah)

The Rosh Yeshivah states clearly that the path back to Yiddishkeit can only be once the child is fully accepted and loved by his parents and then becomes “happy” with his current not frum life – and then he will find his way back to incorporate Yiddishkeit into his life.


Avi: People have such a confusion… they feel that they need to yell at the child… they think: how can we allow our child to act this way [against the Torah]??
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Shakes head no: Yelling is forbidden! Yelling is לפני עור (causing someone to sin!) – like hitting an older child [that the Rambam says is לפני עור]

Avi: So one may not deal with a son or a daughter in any way that pressures them…
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: yes – it damages them – it damages them

Avi: We openly see that it harms these kids!! People think that לשם שמים (to defend HaShem’s honor) they need to object to such behavior…
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: no – it’s “מזיק” (they are harming the child)

The Rosh Yeshivah states clearly that when you treat them with negativity, criticism or pressure to conform, you damage them & cause them to sin MORE and YOU are ‘oiver’ a ‘lav’ of “לפני עור!!!”


Rav Wagshall: What about the other children?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: You need to explain to them that he is “forced” to act this way… He doesn’t have the ability to control himself… He is a “רחמנות” (unfortunate and broken person)

Avi: This child won’t be a bad influence on the other children in the home?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: If the other children know that he is a רחמנות and that right now he doesn’t understand properly… he can’t think straight right now…

Avi: The other kids see how the father and mother buy gifts for him, that won’t make them jealous?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Buy gifts for them as well

Avi: Buy normal kosher things for the normal kids and…
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: YES – YES

The Rosh Yeshivah states clearly that when parents treat the child in the derech haTorah of embracing them with respect and warm friendship then he is not concerned about the other children being damaged, and you simply explain to them how to look at him.


Rav Lobenstein: Who has the authority to determine if a child needs discipline (punishment and consequences) so as to bring him to [correct his ways and] do the right thing?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: It is well known and accepted that there is no concept of ‘smol docheh’ (discipline) anymore [for people who are off the derech]

Avi: Even for regular healthy kids?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: You can discipline a normal healthy child if the kid understands and accepts that your reaction was proper, but if he doesn’t understand that then [you can’t].

Avi: What changed from all the previous generations?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Each generation is different…

Rav Wagshall: If there is lo aleinu a child who is mechallel Shabbos in the home – should the family still treat him with honor and friendship?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: There is NO other way to deal with this

Avi: And we explain to the other children that this is the treatment for him that Hashem wants?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a agrees: YES, YES, YES… he has no seichel, it is a “רחמנות” on him… he has no seichel – he doesn’t understand [the ramifications of] what he is doing…

The Rosh Yeshivah states clearly that there is NO REJECTION AT ALL when it comes to kids off the derech – EVEN if the child is being MICHALLEL SHABBOS in the house! And we should explain to the other children that he simply has no self control at this time.


Avi: What can I say to strengthen the parents – this ‘derech’ is so hard for them…
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Yes, it is very very difficult, but there is no other way. This [giving them honor and warm friendship] is the only possible way to deal with this.

Avi: The Rosh yeshiva wrote; this is the only remedy!
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: TRUE

Avi: But the Rosh yeshiva wrote that it is ‘sometimes’ hard [for parents] – what we find is that it is always hard for them
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Later on it becomes easier… All new things are difficult

Avi: Otherwise it’s a full blown war in the home… to distance a child is a lot easier (no need for self control) – but to have such a boy living peacefully at home is much harder…
Avi: What if a boy brings a girl home – do we need to protest? Should we send them away?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: NO – CHAS VISHALOM (G-d forbid)

Avi: But how can we possibly allow such a horrible sin to occur in the home of a chassidishe or litvishe or Yeshivah frum home?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: THERE IS NO OTHER WAY

Avi: So we shouldn’t reject/distance them
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: THERE IS NO OTHER WAY

Avi: I know, but people feel that such a horrific sin… from the three biggest sins….
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: THERE IS NO OTHER WAY

Avi: we should not reject/distance them
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: THERE IS NO OTHER WAY

Avi: My name is Fishoff
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: [Shakes hand] You have a zchus… a zchus… a zchus… be matzliach


Avi: I work with a few hundred parents who have children that have left the derech. We spoke last time I was here that I follow the method of the Rosh yeshiva to deal with the child only using respect and warm friendship to draw him close

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: He is not at fault. He is an אונס (forced to sin) it’s a רחמנות on him

Avi: Every one of them are considered ‘forced’ to act this way?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: None of them are at fault, they are considered a ‘תינוק שנשבה’ (a child who is kidnapped by the goyim and has no way to live a [proper Jewish life)

Avi: There are people who guide parents to say to their child that I respect and befriend you, but in my home you need to conform… wear a Yarmulka and dress properly
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: CHAS VESHOLOM! CHAS VESHOLOM! CHAS VESHOLOM! (Heaven forbid a parent to tell that to their child!)

Avi: Why?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Because it pushes them away and that is a sin of “לפני עור” (causing someone to stumble)

Avi: It’s considered [a ‘lav’ of] “לפני עור” to distance them?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: YES! The parents need to accept them without ANY rules or conditions or boundaries

Avi: So to tell child that in my home [you need to conform…]
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: NO NO NO! NO LIMITATIONS AT ALL! They must make sure to bring them closer! Otherwise it is “לפני עור”

Avi: But people think that כבוד וידידות is outside – but not in my home
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: YOU CAN REPEAT IN MY NAME!

Avi: He has a few questions – can he ask?
Rav Lobenstein: The parents complain that the child walks around the house not confirming to the standards of “tzniyus”… or without a yarmulke in the house… is it important for the parents to say that it is important for us that you feel good and be comfortable in our home?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: They are miskainim (not all there), they are “תינוק שנשבה”, they are not guilty – they are not at fault

Rav Lobenstein: The father says that we must show him that we don’t agree with him
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: NO, NO, NO! It’s אסור אסור אסור – forbidden to do that! If they do that then they are being עובר a לאו of לפני עור! (causing someone to sin!)

Rav Lobenstein: What if the child wants his friends to come over to the house, if the parents don’t allow it then he will feel that his parents don’t really accept him either. So what should we do about the friends?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Be mikarrev them as well

Rav Lobenstein: One of the hard questions that we get is that a father says that he was walking with his child on Shabbos and this gave him a very good feeling. Suddenly the child took out a cigarette to smoke! Can the father ignore the behavior or must he protest the chillul Shabbos?
Rav Gershon shlyt”a: NO – NO! It’s ‘assur’ to protest!

[ Israel News Bureau]

[Me: Its truly sad what is happening to our young and confused that have left the path of Hashem. Rabbi Mizrachi says that the majority (80-90%) leave because of the internet; however, there are others who leave from abuse, and yet others who just give up. My heart is wounded from this. If you do not know someone in this situation it is easy to hear/read about it and go on with your life; however, when you know of someone who is in that matzav, it hurts.]


Anonymous said...

Part of the reason that our brethren have left the fold is due to assimilation.

Devorah said...

Very good thank you

dvorah rut Weidner said...

I respectfully disagree with this Rav. And I would suggest that this level of permissiveness is what has brought the entire world to the state it is in today. There is also such a thing as kavod to Av and Em. Dress: fine. Don't want to eat kosher: fine. Don't want to observe any mitzvot:fine. But to say that you don't protest if they violate the Shabbat: no! Or to allow them to bring a girl or boy into their room to do who knows what:forget about it. Even secular parents have such a thing as rules of the house. If I invite someone for Shabbat who is not Shomer Shabbat I am very clear: no phones and don't drive to the door. We have totally destroyed kids today and one reason is the very suggestions this Rav makes. I don't suggest to beat, berate or reject the child. But as parents we have an obligation to raise the bar not lower it.

Anonymous said...

Some very great rabbis disagree with this approach. For the English speakers listen to Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein.

Miriam said...

A parent's absolute love for the child has to be obvious to the child no matter the choices he has made in regard to religious observance but there definitely has to be boundaries when it comes to respecting others in the house. Teenagers often like to rebel but they are doing it to push boundaries and show their independence but they don't want the parents to lose respect for them and choose a religious house over their kids. Conversations are important where this is discussed with the teen. We respect you and the choices you make but you must respect the religious observance of the people living here as well. No being mechalel shabbos when in front of someone else as it causes them pain and is disrespectful to the rules of the house. You want to join a meal on Shabbos, you stand in respect when kiddush is said. You sit quietly when we we do benching after meals. No rude attitude at the table. No rolling eyes if someone starts a zemira or gives a dvar Torah. No interrupting with obnoxious remarks. We don't force you to do the things you refuse to do but you must be respectful as we want to have a peaceful and enjoyable household. We tell them even non-Jews or totally ignorant of Torah practice Jews would do this at our table because it is polite, it doesn't have to define your beliefs. Teens NEED these kinds of boundaries that teach them to act dignified if they wish to test out their independence and religious observance.

I have learned this must be stated calmly and authoritatively. No screaming or yelling which comes from your own pride that somehow you have made your kids turn out like this and you are embarrassed. If you involve your ego you just get angry and upset. They are just making a mistake which they will hopefully realize someday but we love them anyway. They really can't fathom what they are giving up. They think they know better and you are old fashioned. Hashem gave you this responsibility for your kids. That means Hashem knows you need them just as much as they need you. Work on your patience, your acceptance, your unconditional love. There is no divorcing your child (except in really violent, abusive relationships but that is not about those kinds of kids.)

I have a daughter who went off for a while but Baruch Hashem has come back into her own derech because she understood that if she doesn't respect others, she won't be accepted as she is. She always received a lot of love and I kept telling her she was a tzaddika under it all and I know she loves Hashem. I encouraged her to ask questions if she doubts Hashem and religious practice but not to dismiss it all, that would be shortsighted and would show her ignorance. I told her that before you reject a belief you have to know what you are rejecting really well. Build up her emunah in herself so she feels she is capable of deep thinking and is not just a rebellious teenager.

These are my two cents. I believe the rav is right but his answers were very short and left a lot of details unanswered to what each parent should do in a specific situation.

Neshama said...

Miriam, very nice of you to give such a comment. It shows you care very much.

I read that HaRav Edelstein and Rabbi Kanievsky are now, defacto, the Rabbonim who are to be consulted now since Rav Shteinman zt”l went to Shamayim. Rav Edelstein may actually be following the lead of Rav Shteinman.

I realize that his protocol for how to treat these boys/girls goes against some of our instincts. So, of course, one should consult their personal Rabbi or Shul Rabbi in this matter.

As far as Rav Wallerstein’s approach, I believe it applies to those in America, because the conditions are different than here in E”Y. My husband remarked that here in Israel one sees a lot of tattooing, and earrings on men, but that doesn’t seem to be the fashion in America. So what’s appropriate here is not necessarily appropriate in America and vice versa.

Yes, Anon, Rabbi Mizrachi did say that the problem stems from the internet’s influence.

Anonymous said...

Miriam--I appreciate your comment, but how can you say that you think the Rav is right when the approach you outlined is the exact opposite (and one that I agree with, by the way)?

Miriam said...

Anonymous, I think the rav is rallying against the approach that many take of abandoning their kid when they go off the derech in order to show they don't approve, to save the rest of the children from witnessing it and save face from all of their horrified neighbors (and possible future shidduch prospects for the rest of the children.) So, he is right that only love and welcoming the children will be able to have a chance of reversing the issues. There has been no other successful way and when you consider the kids basically have lost their seichal in the crazy world we live in today, they must be treated differently than just something dangerous you don't want in your home.

I think if this situation is started on the road to improvement before the child is mechalel shabbos in the home in public, it is much easier to deal with. The key is not to alienate the child. I don't know how the rav would propose to deal with a child doing whatever he wanted in the house with no limits. It is one thing to say it and another thing to live with it. There has to be boundaries as being violent or doing drugs would need a different response than just unconditional love. I am not agreeing with this part as I can't imagine how it would work when keeping respect in the picture. Respect would entail not upsetting everyone and ruining their observance of Shabbos. You can't respect someone who starts smoking in a public place, for example, when the rules clearly state smoking is not acceptable as it bothers the public and causes harm. Without boundaries like this that need to be adhered to, society is general would be out of control. Children have to learn that this is the same in your own house where parents make the rules. Things like modesty are easier to deal with than breaking shabbos. It's a really hard situation but the rav's approach is the only kind that can be successful. I almost lost my daughter religiously and we wouldn't have even been able to maintain any kind of future relationship had I insisted she follow every rule in the house. We made certain rules be associated with respect and I didn't approach it religiously or with my ego (after I first did and almost failed!) So, except for the mechalel shabbos part, I do think the rav is right. I'd like to hear more details from him as any practical application is missing in order to include mechalel shabbos.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Devorah Ruth Wiedener. In fact, it is the Torah that tells us that parents are obligated to rebuke their children. We all understand that we are living in crazy times and the openess (internet, etc.) today is shocking, everywhere and especially in Israel. If a child goes off the derech, then maybe there are outreach places where they deal with these wayward children, but to say everything is okay and allow them to do as they please is shocking, especially for rabbis to state so. If the child cannot be restrained, then that child might have a psychological problem. The Jews today have become, r'l, no different than the goyim and have taken on all their ways and a lot is due to the permissiveness of parents! It seems, chas v'sholom (said sarcastically) if we do not agree with the non-Jewish culture, something is wrong with us. Wake up Jews and realize this is the era we are really being tested by H', because Moshiach will soon be here. Remember the Torah of your father and your mother and do not fall prey to the leanings of today's rabbis and leaders, if their thinking is different than your parents ways.

Miriam said...

I can't remember which rav spoke about this but he said the earlier generation was different than today. They were holocaust survivors who raised their kids with strictness to the adherence of rules because the Jewish nation had died out so much their only thought was survival by remaining religious Jews. Their way was harsh but it worked a bit to keep Jews Torah Jews. Nowadays, this generation of young parents must use love instead of harsh demands. Now, we are not trying to survive but we are trying to get kids to love Judaism at a time when being non-Jewish or irreligious has an exotic flair and strong pull. Totally different generation so the same method will not be useful. I really see it with the kids nowadays. They just want acceptance and love. That's why they test the boundaries.

I think there are reasons why Hashem chose this as a challenge for this last generation before Moshiach. It has been easy to turn way too judgmental and unaccepting of those outside our cookie cutter shape. We need to build unity, love everyone and look down at others less as we can't possibly know how Hashem sees each of His children. We have to give each person the benefit of the doubt that if they are lacking in mitzvot or middot, Hashem will judge them better than we will as He knows their challenges and intentions. What better way than this last generation of children!

Miriam said...

I just read this - very appropo - Rabbi Eliyah Safran covers a lot of this.