I just spent 4 days at the Torah U’Mesorah convention selling, InfoGrasp, my companies School and Non Profit Management Software. It was a great experience, especially on Shabbos when 1,500 Jews shared an amazingly uplifting G-d and Torah connecting experience powered by non-stop talks and lectures by some of the greatest Rebbeim in America. With that background information, I’d like to share an insight I gained over the weekend.
Over 15 years ago at a parlor meeting, a seasoned and well respected teacher related a talk he gave at Torah U’Mesorah in which he pointed out some classroom obstacles which often caused Rebbeim to stumble. He ended his talk at the parlor meeting saying that the people at the convention didn’t exactly appreciate his criticisms as evidenced by the fact that he was never invited back. For many years I accepted his story at face value, and I’ve seen first hand the obstacles of which he spoke.
This year, I asked a few attendees why they were at the convention and all of them included the need for chizuk (strengthing) among their answers. As I listened to the speeches I became more sensitive to the plight of our Torah teachers. They’re paid very low wages. They often have to move to a different city. They have to teach to a wide ability-range of students in the classroom. And many or most of our schools don’t have the financial resources to provide them with the support that almost all other teachers, public and private, receive.
The speeches focused on the wonderful task the teachers were performing, despite the above mentioned obstacles with many techniques of how to become better. There were sessions on a wide range of topics and the teachers listened attentively and questioned in their attempts to become better transmitters of our Mesorah. They were encouraged not to be discouraged and one of the last Shabbos speakers sounded these echoing words, “Please don’t go into the business sector, Klal Yisroel needs you”.
The whole event turned around my view of the parlor meeting. Yes there’s room for improvement, yes mistakes are made, but at their core, our generation of teachers have dedicated their heart and soul to teaching our children Torah and we must stand up, recognize and applaud them. The teachers at the convention didn’t applaud themselves for their efforts, but they really do need our support and we should try to make is vocal. At least once a year at the convention, there needs to be no constructive criticism and the talk is about the good and the trying to be better.
So next time you see a teacher, perhaps you can muster up the strength to thank them. Surprise them and thank them with no follow up request or constructive criticism. It’s a very tough job they’ve chosen and they’re truly are built up by our appreciation. The more we stengthen them, the more they can endeavor in the Jewish people’s most important mission, teaching Hashem’s Torah to every Jew.