When Shavuot just around the corner, Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, the leader of the worldwide Shuva Yisrael community, asked his students to clarify for themselves what education they are giving their children.
Rabbi Pinto is known for his uncompromising stand on children’s education, subsumed in the saying “Educate a child according to his own way.” He often talks in his classes about the need to combine pleasantness and joy in education and to avoid force at all costs.
In recent days, he spoke to his students and said: "We are right now at the eve of the holiday when we received the Torah, and each and every one of us is obliged to take stock of himself, his family members, and his children to ensure with complete clarity that the way he educates and guides his family members and his children is the way that God would want. It is the path where his sons and his descendants would desire to follow him and by which his household would be like a tree that can not be uprooted."
Rabbi Pinto explained that it is not enough to have good intentions and know educational methods but it is necessary that parents also carry them out in the right way. "For education to be strong and firm and take root in the hearts of his family members, the father needs to be strong and rooted and personally fulfill what he tells his sons to do. If he is telling them to have a good character, the father should have a good character. If the father admonishes his sons to study and love Torah, the father must study and love Torah. To teach them the power of prayer, the father should pray with devotion and in the proper way."
He further explains, "The way the father conducts himself at home, how he manages his money, how he drinks and eats, and what he gets upset about, is constantly educating his son. Sometimes the son does not behave properly and does not follow his father's path, but his waywardness will not continue if the father has sown worthy seeds in him. This is the in-depth meaning of “Educate a child according to his way.” If the youth is taught by the way of the educator, by the educator’s behavior that he sees, then he will not stop living by it when he is no longer under the authority of his father and forced to behave that way. He will live by it even when he reaches old age."
Rabbi Pinto referred to the holiday of the Giving of the Torah, writing: "We are at the eve of the Giving of the Torah. Every person should know what qualities he has and doesn’t has. One who has firm and noble virtues, should pass them on to his sons. Whoever doesn’t have them, should find a wise and God-fearing Torah scholar to guide the members of his household, because a youth will follow his educator’s path."
Rabbi Pinto added, "In Pirkei Avot [Ethics of Our Father], the mishnayot that teach us proper behavior, the advice mentioned by each Tanna was particularly representative of him and was the legacy he sought to pass down to future generations. When it says in Pirkei Avot ‘He used to say’ it means that what he would say is exactly who he was.
"Our self-work during these days is to think about what we are doing in this world. What is my strong point? When seeing a tzaddik, what point should I try to strengthen and what general and personal guidance should I send the members of my household to get?”
"In the difficult days we are in where the truth is hidden, one must adhere to the holy books whose authors were righteous people who wrote with divine inspiration. We should hear the words of the Torah from those who are truly God-fearing, and not from people who recite stories and tales that they have read in other kinds of books, because these can cause great and severe destruction and damage."
Rabbi Pinto concluded that "We must know that ‘it is time to supplicate God, for the designated time is coming.’ This is the week that the Moshiach has the potential to come, and we can see all the signs and indications around us."
This article was written in cooperation with Shuva Israel