Essential Kiruv Ingredients – Learning from Those You Teach

By Dan Illouz

Once, Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook sent two of his students to a kibbutz. The Kibbutz was having educational problems and wanted to bring people from all different parts of the Israeli Society in order to discover how to fix the problem, so they brought two religious people. As the night went on, the religious students started describing how they learn in yeshiva all day, go to sleep, then learn more. The people from the kibbutz became very interested. The yeshiva bachurim became the center of attention of the night.

Then, a young child raised her hand and asked a question to the Bachurim. She asked: “We have learned a lot from you. However, tell us, what did you learn from us?”

The Bachurim answered: “Well, why don’t you tell us what we should learn from you?” The whole kibbutz didn’t know what to answer and the bachurim went back to yeshiva happy with they night.

The next day, Rav Tzvi Yehudah asked how the night went. They answer: “Very well, everyone asked questions. We even showed them how valueless their lifestyle is since they didn’t know what to say when we asked what we can learn from them”.

Rav Tzvi Yehudah asked: “What? You didn’t have anything to learn from them? You couldn’t learn anything from their self-sacrifice in the army? From their love of nature? From their yearning for social justice? From their intellectual curiosity? You did not have anything to learn from them? So, how can you even start teaching them?”

If you want to teach to someone, you have to be able to learn from them. If not, what you will do is try to give him your whole personality – both your strengths and weaknesses- and through this, you will erase his strengths. By opening yourself to learning from his strengths, he can then also learn from your strengths, and both of you can make each other stronger.

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One comment on “Essential Kiruv Ingredients – Learning from Those You Teach

  1. Making sure you learn from those you teach not only helps one increase in wisdom, it also tends to nip in the bud any nascent arrogance or superiority complex on the part of the would-be mashpia.
    And besides, who is more likely to desire Torah than a student of natural intelligence, common sense, and good middot?

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