by Akiva at Mystical Paths
A week ago, I traveled up to Tzfat (Safed) for a special siyum (celebration of completion of learning). Two young men finished Gemora Makkos. A few days later, another 8 young men did the same thing (different tractate).
Ordinarily, this is nothing so special. Young men learning tractates of Gemora is pretty much the staple of the Torah learning system today. But these weren't ordinary young men.
These young men had been abused by the system. Yes, abused. Some are ADD, some have learning disabilities (undiagnosed), some are just more artistic or creative than the average fellow. All of them ran into rigid environments that protect the core by pushing out the non-conformists. They were yelled out, punished, some actually physically restrained or hit, and generally told that their nature's where bad.
When they thought of yeshiva, and by association the Torah world, a loving environment wasn't what came to mind. Torah became associated with degradation, punishment, pain. Some became defensive, some offensive, some escapist.
Parents cried, siblings scratched their heads (what's wrong with my brother?), yet in the end frequently reinforced the negative as they reacted to the youngsters direction. Not only on their way out, but left with a serious anger we are seeding future enemies from our own blood.
But in one place, in a small run down building hidden in the hills of Tzfat, one yeshiva is making a difference. Here boys are accepted lovingly, encouraged positively, and appreciated for each success that they can make. This is not the yeshiva of the illuiy (the genius) or the budding talmud chacham (future Torah sage), though indeed some of this young men have that potential! This is the yeshiva of accomplishment, where every step taken is appreciated for the success it is.
And this past week, those young men's accomplishments were indeed equal to any mainstream yeshiva. In some ways, they distinctly exceeded a regular track. For these young men will take their Torah, wrap it with their drive, their creativity, their push to tackle multiple tasks, and build the future. They may be the businessmen that end up supporting the yeshivas, or those who start the many institutions which make a community go, or develop new ways of sharing Torah with others.
The fires are being stoked, the wounds of the past healing over. And young men are being encouraged to their full potential.
These are the "at risk" kids in the hands of a yeshiva that cares and cries over every single soul, and strives to empower their holy potential and heal the wounds of the past.
Dear Contributors, those who have clicked our tzedakah button to the right, your contributions are going to their success. Their Torah is in your merit, their future brighter for your assistance.
Thank you, and may Hashem bless you, and bless them.
BS"D - בסיעתא דשמיא