Dr. Sorotzkin, ends the article with a section titled, “Middos or Politeness?” that I thought of last week, after coming to our childrens’ day school to drop off a drink for my daughter. As I gave the drink to my 7 yr old (I had forgotten to pack in her lunch), she said, “Thanks, Abba.” Her teacher looked at her and said, “What beautiful middos you have.”
Is saying, “Thank you”, looked at as good middos? It could be. I think that when a child or adult has to make a choice in behavior, we are exercising middos. If we are teaching our children that the reason we say “thank you” is because it’s nice to acknowledge someone doing something nice for you, then the “thank you” is regulated to good manners. Here are some examples, off the top of my yarmulka covered head, that can be looked at either as middos or manners:
- Getting up and standing for a Rabbi
- Not running in shul
- Saving the last piece of cake for someone else
- Giving a siddur to a visitor in shul
Like most things in life, Hashem has gives us the opportunity to infuse a simple action with kedusha. Keeping our eyes open for those opportunities is the tricky part.
Unfortunately, Neil, the bar is currently set very low for middos in our day schools.
I’m sure there are a variety of reasons for it, but I think some of it has to do with the changes in curriculum over the years – more focus on “bein adam l’makom”, less on “bein adam l’chavero”.
True. The yeshivos and day schools that do try to stress Bein Adam l’Chavero still have prepare kids for a high school system that also demands high levels of ability for Bein Adam l’Makom- ie “seforim smarts”.
I think also most people in chinuch under the age of 45 were raised were educated in a system that looked at learning skills vs people skills.