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Featured Blogs & Articles

Parshas Toldos:"Staying positive about homeschooling...with King David!" 11/14 (RabbiResnick)
posted Thu November 20th 2014 @ 12:37 PM


• Weekly roundup
• Insights into Homeschooling - "Staying positive about homeschooling...with King David!"
• The Weekly Parsha - Toldos

We had a great week of classes. Unfortunately, it was seriously marred by the terrible tragedy in Jerusalem. I saw someone write on fb this week that nobody can possibly express real mourning, or their true feelings, on facebook. I disagree. It has become an important social forum, for me and many others
 I see many frum Jews are still resistant to faceboook, and I guess I understand; the iPhone is still evil to many. But, I think, unless one does not use any internet, the opposition is a bit random. Personally, it is my main social outlet these days, especially now that we have moved, and it keeps me connected in an important way to Jews (and others) around the world. I think it not only serves an important role in the world, but I think it is brilliantly executed. Kudos to Mark Zuckerburg for creating it. Of course, like all technology, it is a mixture of good and bad.

If you would like to read the post I wrote about the events in Israel this week, you will indeed have to go to facebook (or email me, and I will send it to you).
Several secular holidays are coming up; Thanksgiving is approaching. (This year it thankfully does not coincide with Chanuka.) The halachic implications of celebrating Thanksgiving are fascinating, diverse, and surprising. Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik implied to his students that he observed it, but he would not cancel his classes in order to do so. The Jewish people are used to, and even pros, at giving thanks, and we don't need this particular holiday to do it, although many celebrate this one. 
I am sure we can all find something every day to give thanks for. "Experts" tell us that giving thanks can be a key to staying healthy and being happy, so why not make it a regular practice, if you don't already?
Homeschooling is a great place to begin!

~ Insights into Homeschooling ~ Staying positive about homeschooling...with King David"

"People who regard themselves as highly efficacious act, think, and feel differently from those who perceive themselves as inefficacious. They produce their own future, rather than simply foretell it." (Albert Bandura, psychologist, writer, academic and pioneer of social cognitive theory).

As homeschoolers, I imagine we mostly like to think of ourselves as “highly efficacious, acting, thinking, and feeling differently” than others. After all...we are doing it all! So, hopefully, we have worked out schedules and routines that allow us to provide education for our own children, as well as take care of all the other things a family must do. That’s a tall order.

We may be different. We even may be a bit odd. But we are doing the right thing! Or, are we?

We have spoken many times about standing up to pressure from outsiders about homeschooling. This can come from beloved family members, friends, or school officials. 

There is a beautiful section in Tehillim that I believe can shed some light on this, and also give us the strength to continue in our chosen paths.

In chapter 119, David haMelech, in a passionate and moving series of verses, describes the happiness attained by one who follows in the path of Torah.
{א} אַשְׁרֵי תְמִימֵי דָרֶךְ הַהֹלְכִים בְּתוֹרַת יְהוָה

"Happy are they that are upright in the way, who walk in the (path of the) Torah of HaShem." 

If this describes you, then you have discovered the peace of mind and inner satisfaction that the Torah path brings to one who follows it. This inner feeling of peace is almost impossible to describe in words to someone who has not experienced it. As Rabbi Steinsaltz said in our class recently, can you really describe the taste of watermelon to someone? 

Not only is it hard to describe, but for those outside of the Torah world, it can seem downright strange, funny, or worse.

The same is true for homeschooling. For those involved in it, it is logical, hopefully satisfying, and can bring great peace of mind. But how can we describe it to one who is not homeschooling (and perhaps even a bit antagonistic)?

It can really get difficult when well-meaning (or maybe not-so-well-meaning) folks, who are not involved in homeschooling, look critically at what we are doing. From the "outside," it often seems strange to them. It seems funny to them. And even irresponsible! (And they often have no compunction about letting you know.)

How can we retain our sense of pride and and enthusiasm in the face of frequent criticism and scorn?

The answer may be found in the next few verses of Tehillim:

ו  אָז לֹא-אֵבוֹשׁ -- בְּהַבִּיטִי, אֶל-כָּל-מִצְו‍ֹתֶיךָ.

"Then I will not be ashamed, when I gaze at all Your mitzvot."

The Metzudos Tzion comments: 

אז. כשהיו דרכי נכונים אז לא אבוש בהביטי אל כל מצותיך כי מי שלא קיים המצות הוא בוש ונכלם כשרואה המצות ההם כתובים בתורה

“When the paths are proper, then I will not be ashamed when I gaze at Your mitzvot. Because one who does not fulfill mitzvot is sometimes ashamed and embarrassed when they see certain mitzvot written in the Torah.”

Let’s extend this idea to homeschooling, to create our own positive homeschooling affirmation, based on this insightful commentary:

“When I gaze at what I am involved in, this amazing, proper and correct path of home education, then I will not be ashamed. I will retain, and even strengthen, my sense of pride and joy in the fact that I am involved in the wonderful task of educating my own children...which just happens to be a mitzvah in the Torah!”

interestingly, several verses later, there seems to be an allusion to our mashel of homeschooling:

 בַּמֶּ֣ה יְזַכֶּה-נַּ֭עַר אֶת-אָרְח֑וֹ לִ֝שְׁמֹ֗ר כִּדְבָרֶֽךָ

"With what shall a young lad keep his way pure? By being careful to guard your mitzvot."

Metzudos Tzion comments - 

ט} במה. באיזה ענין יעשה את ארחו זכאי בעת ירגיל עצמו מנערותו לילך באורח מישו
“In what way shall a lad make his path pure and meritorious? When he is raised and accustomed, from a young age, to go in the proper path.”

I think that the homeschooling analogy doesn’t need any elucidation!

~ The Zohar on parshas Toldos ~

In the Zohar, Rabbi Yehuda addresses the question of why Abraham and Isaac had to experience starvation and famine in their respective lifetimes: at the time G‑d wishes to illuminate the soul of a person, He strikes the body to weaken it, in order that the soul should rule over it; for as long as the soul is equal in power to the body, the soul cannot be in control of it. When the body is broken, the soul can rule over it.

From the teachings of Rabbi Shimon b. Yochai; translation & commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister  www.kabbalaonline.org/
~ Room613 Marketplace/Bookshop ~

Did you know you can get all kinds of cool stuff in our Room613 marketplace? Caps, carrying bags, coffee mugs, all with the colorful Room613 logo! Get one for your kids, and for yourself. Let the rest of the world know that you are on the cutting edge of homeschooling (while you satisfy your caffeine fix, and return overdue library books - how efficient!). 


Read More »

Parshas Chayei Sarah: "They Say They Have The Fidgets!" 11/14 (RabbiResnick)
posted Thu November 13th 2014 @ 12:18 PM

Contents: Read More »

Parshas Vayeira: "Nature never wears a mean appearance " the turbulent storm of homeschooling 11/6 (RabbiResnick)
posted Thu November 6th 2014 @ 12:53 PM

Contents: Read More »

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