by Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com
He uniquely combined vision, knowledge, leadership and love of man.
The loss of Rav Gershon Edelstein zatzal is significant not only because of the loss in Torah – he was of the Ziknei HaRoshei Yeshiva who gave iyun shiurim until the very end. He was the Rosh Yeshiva of the very prestigious Ponevech Yeshiva. The loss is so significant because he was not just the Gadol haDor in learning – he was the Gadol haDor in chinuch and guidance. A few years ago, he gave a remarkable hashkafa session – about chinuch and how to deal with those who are either struggling or off the derech r”l.
Rav Edelstein zt”l told of a story where a wealthy individual had a delicate question regarding his off the derech son. The son asked the father if he could buy him a car. The parents were unsure as to whether to buy him the car, on condition that he not use it on Shabbos. The husband and wife discussed it between themselves and decided to present it to the Chazon Ish.
The Chazon Ish paskened to the husband that he should buy him the car with no restrictions. When the husband came home, he related the psak to his wife. She could not believe it. “There is no way that the Chazon Ish could have paskened that way. You must have heard wrong or misunderstood him.”
The wife would not budge and they bought the car – but with the restrictions on Shabbos use. Rav Gershon, in tears, emphasized that he was intimately involved with the parties and he saw that the young man was turned away from Torah entirely.
Rav Edelstein zt”l constantly emphasized and implored parents and Rebbeim not to force a child to do things. He gave examples: In Tefillah, rather than force the child to daven – learn with him (or her). Teach them what is gained through tefilos and the opportunities lost as well. Never teach through kaas – anger. It is so counterproductive.
The Rosh Yeshiva explained that some children or young men are extraordinarily sensitive, and they must be treated very delicately. He told of a young man who was very sensitive. He could not learn Gemorah, but used his time in being meshamesh a Rosh Yeshiva. What was the reason for his being so sensitive? When he was young, his parents did not force him to do anything, but they constantly pointed things out and left him with the feeling that nothing he did was good enough. The young man lost his desire to learn. He does not hate his parents, chas v’shalom. He is just a young man that is not happy with his lot.
The Rosh Yeshiva also cautioned not to give a child everything he wants. Believe it or not, this can lead to a sense of superiority on behalf of the child – even feeling that he is above his parents! The child must realize that he should be batel to his parents in order to facilitate true growth. It will also lead to true yiras shamayim.
Parents, Roshei Yeshiva, and Rabbeim would come to him daily for advice. The loss of his sagely advice is devastating. Yehe zichro boruch.
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