Humble thoughts on parenting

As I look at almost all gedolim of the past generation and today, they share an intersting trait that I admire. They are individuals. Granted, they lived (and live) lives based on the same Shulchan Aruch, yet each is unique, as is the Torah they taught. Their teachings and collected stories serve as an example to me and help remind me that that I must let my children be themsleves.

When it comes to chinuch, the line from Mishlei / Proverbs 22:6 is often quoted:
Chanoch L’naar al pi Darko, which means that we should educate the child according to his way . Rav Hirsch states that one must teach a child according to the way he learns best, because no two children are alike.

We are all unique (one only need to look as far as any given blogroll to see that almost no two blogs are alike). Sadly most children are taught to be copies of each other, even in the best of day school/yeshiva systems. For the child, as well as the adult (I’m really speaking about myself) the challenge is always to allow one’s personality (or unique talents) to be directed towards Avodas Hashem, in the true derech of Torah observant Judaism.

I can think of three different couples whom I admire as parents. IMHO, their gadlus as parents stems from the fact that they have let their children be themselves. Their children have learned by the example yet by their parents. Be yourself. Your Avodas Hashem should be based on your unique talents.

I recently heard a bubbie tell her grandson on the occasion of his Bar Mitzvah some awesome advice, that I took to heart. She said, “Don’t go through life ‘looking to find yourself’, go through life creating yourself.”

12 thoughts on “Humble thoughts on parenting

  1. frumhouse

    Great quote! Yes, we must educate each child according to his way – but this type of education must come from the home. It is rare to find a school that can tailor the curriculum to each individual child. Unless your child goes to a school with a very low teacher:student ratio. In most cases, the child must conform to school’s methods, not the reverse.

  2. The Un-Uberdox Jew of WRP

    OK, I’ve read your blog for a few months and commented “anonymous” a few times.

    Let’s get real. I had heard of you before you moved to town and I see you here and there. You look just like all the other yidden here in West Rogers.

    Do you honestly believe the stuff you write?
    If you don’t like the yeshiva system then home-school your uberkids!

    Why not show your readers what you look like? I’m sure they are curious.

  3. frumhouse

    un-uberdox – I don’t get the impression from the posts I have read that Neil doesn’t like the yeshivah system. In fact, the posts I have read where he discusses his children’s school and staff have been positive. Critiquing the system or suggesting ways in which it can be improved is not rejecting the system.

    Why does he have to post his picture? I am sure that many of his local readers know who he is and what he looks like. He has nothing to be ashamed of.

    Maybe you could be more specific as to which posts you disagree with.

  4. Neil Harris

    Firstly, thanks to everyone for reading and for all the comments and to frumhouse for the nice words.

    Secondly, thanks for taking time to read and comment, Un-Uberdox (not very original, but I did smile when I saw it). I’ll try to address your comments.

    “I had heard of you before you moved to town and I see you here and there.”
    Curious what you heard? If you’ve seen me, why not introduce yourself and say hi. I’m looking to make some new friends.

    “You look just like all the other yidden here…”
    What am I supposed to look like?
    The Gemara in Brachos says “Just as no two faces are the same, no two people think alike”. We are each different. The identity of a Torah observant Jew is defined by our thoughts, words, and actions.

    I have written on my blog and elsewhere that for many years my appearance was totally based on my external individuality. I feel that it’s much more challenging to be ‘your own person’ within the system, not outside the system.

    “Do you honestly believe the stuff you write?”- Yes. If I didn’t then I wouldn’t waste my time nor that of the few people who do take time to read and comment. That is, BTW, one of the reasons I blog under my own name, to keep myself in check.

    “If you don’t like the yeshiva system then home-school your uberkids!”
    Oy Vey! I have never said or written that I’m against the yeshiva system. I do believe that we should have a unified system within cities (read the book EYES TO SEE). I’ve also commented (over 8 months ago) on Rabbi Maryles’ blog that we need a summer program (either sleep away camp or a day camp) where kids can learn in the mornings and be exposed to the arts in the afternoons.

    In fact, one of the major reasons we relocated to Chicago was to give our children better chinuch options in the day school/yeshiva system.
    My concern about the system making children into clones and the ones who don’t fall into mold being left behind is valid and I have heard personally the same concerns being raised by both Rabbi Moshe Weinberger (Aisk Kodesh) and Rabbi Shaya Cohen (Priority-1).

    “Why not show your readers what you look like? “
    If anyone is curious click here:

  5. Un-Uberdox Jew

    Cute drawing.

    We actually know each other already and have been on NCSY shabbatonim together.

    You write well, but should go back into kiruv.

    Maybe I’ll reveal myself next time I see you at Jewel.

  6. shaya g


    1. great bubbie quote.

    2. as you kow from Harry’s blog, welcome to the world of critcizers. People like you, rafi, harry and others who blog openly and are honest with your opinions and hashkafos, unfortunately attract all of these anons who love to attack. You now have your own! Congratulations.

    BTW, I know Neil. He is a mentch. His external trappings are no different from anyone elses in this city. Many “sruganiks” also only do so for political/social reasons. He is an emes type person (who can shake “it” on occasion too 🙂 ). He wears a black hat and so what? why does wearing one, exclude you from asking questions or debating hashkafa?

  7. Neil Harris

    Thanks for the kind words. Sadly one of the reasons I’ve cut down on reading the comments on RHM’s blog is all the negativity. People find it much easier to argue, especially from their computers.

  8. shaya g

    if you’ve noticed, I’ve cut back on commenting there as well. everything boiled down to “you’re an idiot. no, you’re a kofer!” I got tired of trying to get my point across. Every once in a while though….

    see ya


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