Was Yehoshua In Danger of Going Off the Derech

Rabbi Yaacov Haber, who resides in Eretz Yisroel has a great piece in which he gives us some insights into children who might walk away from their heritage:

Over the years I have worked with hundreds of these young men and women. It has been my experience that many of them are the sweetest, gentlest, most sensitive, and sometimes the brightest children around. Because of their non-aggressive nature they don’t easily say no. They don’t aggressively argue their point and sometimes don’t have the koach to stick to their guns and resist peer pressure.

He also points out that Yeshoshua had some of the same qualities:

Yet it was the very greatness of Yehoshua that frightened Moshe. He knew Yehoshua was a listener. He knew he was open to everyone’s ideas. He knew that he wasn’t a Baal Machlokes. Yeshoshua was a student at risk. So Moshe prayed, “May G-d save you from the plot of the spies.”

The message is Earth shattering: When you see a problem in a child, a grandchild or a friend’s child – it is quite possible that beside for having a problem on your hand – you may have a godol on your hand.

You might be dealing with the next Yehoshua Bin Nun!

Please read the whole thing.

Thanks to Steve Brizel for the link. And here’s a link to a beautiful article, that Steve’s daughter Adina had published in the Jewish Week recently.

6 comments on “Was Yehoshua In Danger of Going Off the Derech

  1. Yes, I agree with Danny. This peice is on the naive side. Many people who go off the derech are defenitely bright and insightful, but there is also intense emotional angst and conflict both with G-d and the community living inside as well. I doubt that a sweet, aidle, pushover person would consider going off the derech as much as an alive, vibrant thinker. Many in our communities make it hard for people too feel like they “fit in.” With the Jewish World so focused on things like marriage, chumras, and squelching people’s sense of creativity, it is hard to always hold onto the derech without feeling discouraged.

  2. The article is nice, but it is completely at odds with my personal experience. I know plenty of “off the derech” kids, and Rav Haber’s description really does not fit them. They do tend to be bright, but “sweet” and “gentle,” not so much. I don’t mean that as an insult; a lot of them are really wonderful people in a lot of ways. But in my experience, the sweet, gentle, and easily influenced kids will follow the majority and stay in religious society. I’ve noticed certain shared circumstances in the lives of kids who chose not to be religious, but “easily influenced” is definitely not one of them.

  3. For listeners, and for all of us, a good focus is what can I learn, what can I give. Unfortunately giving is not a major focus of a most yeshiva boy’s education and is something where supplemental lessons need to be provided at home.

    Listeners have an advantage in learning (because good listening leads to understanding), and there are many avenues of giving. In fact being an empathatic listener is in itself of form of giving.

    As Rabbi Haber’s article points out their biggest challenge is not following the crowd to gain acceptance.

  4. Good article but a bit naive…. whats the alternative for people who are ‘listeners’ then, shut out the world? cloister in a ghetto?

  5. Doesn’t a gadol need community support? Can a gadol be a gadol if noone hears or follows him? Kids off the derech are seldom heard, at least their opinions are devalued. Often they and their families are ostracized altogether, with devastating results. So how can an “off the derech” gadol be discovered?

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