Rav Povarsky, Ponovezh Rosh Yeshiva: When A Child Hears ‘Don’t do This, Don’t Do That, He Rebels’


BNEI BRAK (VINnews) — In an edifying interview with Kikar Hashabat, Ponovezh Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Baruch Dov (Berel) Povarsky set out his views on how to educate children to grow in Torah and be attached to their studies even when they are not in their regular frameworks due to the current epidemic.

The Rosh Yeshiva posed an interesting question: “Why when G-d commanded Adam regarding the garden of Eden did he first state “From every tree in the garden you may eat”? Why didn’t he simply say: “Do not eat from this tree”?

“This is a fundamental idea in education. When a child hears ‘Don’t do this, don’t do this’ only hearing what is forbidden, it makes him want to rebel. Therefore his father should first say to him: ‘Listen, everything is for you, you can do this and you can do that, you can eat good things and do useful acts but its not a good idea to eat candies, they’re not good for your teeth.’ That’s education. If he would have heard: ‘Don’t eat candies’ and the next day he would tell him ‘don’t eat that, don’t do that’, the kid would think: “Why is Daddy telling me all day what I shouldn’t do?

“Real education involves accepting the child. Firstly one should begin with: ‘Everything is ready for you, I love you so much and whatever you need you will have, but this thing is not good, candies are not good’ and then he will accept it.”

Rav Povarsky commented that the present time not the first time that Yeshiva students have had to leave the Beis Medrash in order to study Torah. Reminiscing about his time in Europe during the period of the Holocaust, Rav Povarsky said that as a young refugee in Vilna, he had just a slice of bread and a cup of water every day to eat, but his father hired a Yeshiva student to learn Torah with him and in the evening his father would go to the shiur of the Brisker Rav and he would sit under the table.

After the family succeeded in escaping to Palestine, the War of Independence raging and therefore the Ponovezher Rav was scared to study in the Yeshiva’s building due to fear of bombings. The whole yeshiva therefore moved to the nearby Berman orange orchard. Rav Povarsky remembers his father giving his shiur in the orchard while everyone lay on the ground around him, “and you think we didn’t learn? We learnt.”


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  1. Very interesting statement by the Rov. When I was growing up in the 1970’s, you did what your Rebbe and your parents told you to do, in the precise way they told you, no questions asked. Any act of “rebellion” was quashed by a gezunte “zetz”.

  2. Generally he is correct but let’s not go overboard. Kids are immature and lack rational reasoning. There are times where you just need to say no. We all agree that If a child eats posion you grab it away and give him petch. Let’s not take these pc clips to an extreme.

  3. I watched ,the Agudah Forum last night ,With Moranu Harav Feinstein ,& Harav Bender ,& Harav Finkelman ,& got a lot of Chizuk from their words. But I was wondering where such an approach as the Ponovezh Rosh HaYeshiva dictates, was in the 60’s & 70’s when I got embarrassed ,& worse , for not knowing the Gemara , or not doing my 2 hrs of homework .? Believe it or not , I still turned out OK BH.
    5TResident ,I’m with you .


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