April 21, 2024
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‘Emunah Talks’ Inspires TABC in 5778

Are we providing the most effective chinuch to our talmidim? How can we best communicate the central messages of our mesorah to our talmidim during the precious time we are given to learn with them during their four years of high school? These are the questions the TABC rebbeim regularly pose to themselves and each other during informal and formal meetings.

This year the rebbeim began a new initiative we call “Emunah Talks,” a Jewish variation of the popular “TED talks” conducted in academic and professional circles. We try to touch the hearts and minds of our talmidim to internalize the authenticity of our lifestyle and beliefs. We gather in the beit midrash in large numbers for a drasha-type presentation rather than a class. The presenter creates a happy vibe with a friendly introduction and makes for a receptive audience. Without the pressure to take notes, students can engage their hearts as well as their intellect in a relaxed setting.

Immediately before breaking for Thanksgiving, Rabbi Jachter discussed how to detect Hashem’s guiding hand tilting events in our favor regarding the United Nations’ vote to establish a Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael on November 29, 1947. Rabbi Wiener devoted a very-well-received talk to the immense value of the mitzvah of tzitzit. Before Purim, Rabbi Jachter reviewed the advantages of Hashem limiting Himself to subtle miracles. He emphasized how our relationship with Hashem with His current Purim-type subtle involvement fosters a healthier relationship than an open-miracle-based relationship as experienced during our 40-year journey in the midbar. Closing out the year was Rabbi Wiener delivering a talk on the meaning of tefillin on our lives and Rabbi Jachter discussing tzniut for men in the digital age.

Tzitzit and tefillin are ubiquitous features in the lives of Jewish males, but we often overlook their underlying messages. It is crucial to take a step back from time to time to more acutely grasp and attain the goals of these special mitzvot. Tzniut is a countercultural value that fosters self-esteem, empowerment, high achievement and excellent relationships with Hashem and other people—a message highly regarded by the happy listeners.

Student reaction to these talks was enormously positive. Junior Avi Proctor commented that these are exactly the kind of enjoyable talks that we Jewish teens need to hear. Students Jonathan Haberman and Akiva Hain noted how these central conversations conducted in a safe and relaxed setting were crucial for students’ spiritual development.

Gemara, Mishna and Tanach remain the core of TABC Torah learning. However, the current generation needs the occasional spice of discussing the whys of Jewish life. As the summer comes upon us, we at TABC are already contemplating the topics we will, God willing, share with our talmidim next year. We hope other yeshiva high schools consider following this model and make sure their talmidim not only are fluent with Chumash and Gemara, but have the intellectual and emotional tools to retain a lifelong commitment to Torah and the deep desire to pass their special heritage to their children and grandchildren.

By Rabbi Haim Jachter


 Rabbi Haim Jachter is a rebbe at TABC.

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