Shoelaces and yiddishkeit

It was ten minutes into the lesson. The door creaked open as two girls headed apologetically towards the back of the room, "Sorry, Mrs. Shore* just dismissed us."

Rochi* looked frustrated. Mrs. Shore is an opinionated teacher, always sure of herself, who excels at lecturing her students into oblivion. Rochi is a thinker. She always has her own perspectives and is not too shy to share them.

They must have had another confrontation.

"What's up, Rochi?"
"Have you heard of this shoe thing?"
"Tell me"
"I mean, who cares which way I tie my shoes?!?"

I allowed myself a small smile. "Interesting. The shoe-tying business reminds me of a fascinating story. There was a young boy in a Gan Yisroel camp..."

I love watching how their ears perk up at the promise of a story. The actual story is irrelevant, as is the whole how-to-tie my shoe business. What really grabbed me was how the rest of the lesson panned out.

I knew there must be a tie-in to my lesson I had planned. I just had to find the right connection to bring us back from a tangential discussion. Sometimes it works better than others. This time... wow...

"...that's why I think it is so important to ask questions. You shouldn't walk out of a lesson feeling ignored. Your Yiddishkeit needs to come from you, from  a warm, happy place of positive energy. That's the best way for it to stick. So you've got to keep on asking questions! Find someone else if Mrs. Shore won't make herself available during lesson time.

"In fact,  that was exactly why Avraham needed a son to bequeath his estate and position to, rather than the most dedicated of servants. His servant would be performing Avraham's duties out of Yirah. Sure, he'd get the job done, he'll tie the shoelaces in the correct order or whatever the job may entail, but the spark would be missing. By very definition, a servant must not ask questions. He is meant to do what he is told.

"Avraham needed a son. Avraham needed to pass his legacy on to a child who would absorb his teachings with love, curiosity and wonder. By asking questions of his father, the teachings would be absorbed into the child's very core. So keep on questioning, Rochi!"

Where do you turn when you have a question that bugs you?

*Name changed to protect privacy


  1. Wow! Thats incredible! Great practical lesson along with perking the girls interest! Nice tip:)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog


I Quit

Stay focused!