This week we got in the news how a female teacher was surprised when she solicited for a Jewish girls-school in Antwerp she had to sign a paper that she would not talk about religion, evolution, racism, boys, sex and got some other restrictions. She was so taken by it she complaint by the Flemish school-commision which reacted directly.
Perhaps the idea of that girls school was to protect those girls, but the teacher and me too think it is a way to keep women away from the real world and to keep them ignorant. The schoolboard may also think they can protect the girls for what they consider today to be a dangerous lot of youngsters outside the schoolgates.
Maybe some of the conservative Jews think the young children are like the Amaleks intrinsically evil.
This week we have a special Parsha in addition to the regular on, called Parshat Zachor. The word Zachor means “remember,” and it is the commandment to remember the evil of Amalek, the nation that attacked the People of God as they were leaving Egypt. The “dweller in the valley” etymologised as a people am, who lick blood, who had no reason to attack them even not living in the land of Canaan that the Jews would occupy and the Jews had done nothing to them and did not plan to harm them in any way.
Today we can see that there is a growing hate again to us who have done no wrong to those who attack us. Though we can clearly see that it is again as in certain previous periods before a revolution or a war started that certain people sought a victim and in their hat for Hashem they expressed also their hate to His People.
These days we use a second Torah scroll to read the short Parsha about the non-Israelite evil prophet Bilaam who prophesied about the end of days. He was a diviner who was importuned by Balak, the king of Moab, to place a malediction on the people of Israel, who were camped ominously on the plains of Moab. He said that Amalek would end up being completely destroyed.
For us it is important to think about that story and to remember that there is a verse that says that when Moshiach comes, the nations will join together “with one shoulder” to serve Hashem. (Tzefaniah 3:9.) In this the lovers of God should find hope, because those joining would include the nations that were hostile to the people of God in the past and performed evil acts against us. It is indicated that they will change and turn to Hashem. It seems that Amalek has a different fate than the others.
When reading the Holy Scrolls we always should remember that in addition to the simple meaning of the verses, there is a metaphor to our personal lives that we can learn from in our service to Hashem and how we deal with the world and its challenges.
When we look at those who direct their hate at us we can see that mostly they have a wrong understanding of the lovers of God. We can evil that is based on logic, perhaps twisted logic like anti-Semitism based on misunderstandings, bad education etc., and the evil that has no logic at all. The former can be reasoned with and changed. With the latter there is no reasoning and no way to change it, it must be utterly removed.It is also a much more dangerous evil for which not only individuals can react properly against, but where the state or the civil services of a country have to take measures.
It is not by excluding our loved ones to have contact with the outside world we our going to gain something. It would also not help if we over protect our children and let them not learn about the evil in our society and in the world around us.
In our own lives, there are desires we have that lead us in the wrong direction, and we need to harness our desires and drives in appositive direction. These are rooted in our logic and can be worked with. Then there is evil action, which we need to work on to completely curb. A wrong action does not become a right action. So metaphorically, Amalek is the evil action that must be removed, and the other “evil nations” represent the drives and thinking process that lead to the actions. They can and should be changed and channeled in a positive direction.
For the adults it is a task to channel not only their own children but also those around them. It is also wrong to think all youngsters are bad or even to think of ‘hangjongeren’ or loitering teens that they are unchangable mallrats.
Parents and educators have not to exclude their youngsters from their surrounding but need to guide them to recognize that they were created with a purpose, but that though we live in this world should not be of this world or belonging to this world. We should train them to live according the mitzvot and should make them aware that not all people like to live according the Will of God. We should show them how now the adversary of God has the world in his hands.
Parents and teachers should be ready to help them deal with challenges and disappointments by recognizing that everything is not just random, that we have responsibilities to our Creator and that there are consequences to our actions beyond just what we are feeling at the moment.
Not being afraid to show our kids what evil there is in the world we should trust them that they shall be able to stand strong in the education we have given them. We should trust every child that it has good in him or her and should try to get the best out of him or her. When showing our confidence we give them chances they need. We also should be confident that God shall help those who are brought up in His Name. Having faith in the future we should not be afraid to show that faith to the external world.
By showing how the world really is we can make our children stronger to resist the pitfalls of it.
For sure we may not take any sense of morality out of our schools and when public schools are not offering it, we as parents should provide our children with good moral insight. At many places children are not allowed to think about God, and there is no sense of a higher purpose being taught. In many countries this had led to generations without good morals.
Perhaps there soon shall come a time that once again there is taken some time to consider our way of life.
Many decades ago the Rebbe pushed for a moment of silence in schools, to give children an opportunity to think about a higher power and their purpose and responsibility in the world. He warned that removing any connection to a higher power will lead to chaos, and here we are.
But in the chaos we can try to bring some common sense again. By believing in the power of our kids we can give the next generation some fire again, which shall bring some light again in this dark world.
Next: Overprotection and making youngsters drifting away