On Sunday night, February 7, Let’s Get Real with Coach Menachem Bernfeld featured an important shiur on k’dushah in our generation with Rabbi Chaim Dov Stark, Mashgiach of Yeshivas Aderes HaTorah in Yerushalayim.
Rabbi Stark began by sharing that the topic of k’dushah is not usually discussed in public. “Sometimes, people don’t understand, and people don’t have someone to talk to; so they sit with guilt and shame, and many have given up with these challenges. They don’t know that there’s help out there or understanding.” In today’s generation, we are bombarded with billboards and easy access. It’s a very challenging situation. “Even people with filters have a hard time. “Those who have an addiction need to go for help. He shared the great thing about technology is that we can share Torah on it in a venue like this. It’s geshmak to be together. G-d created technology to enable us to tell everyone when Mashiach is here.
It is a terrible mistake to say that we are in dark time. “I see people from all walks of life, and I see very big neshamos.” The heel of Adam eclipsed the sun. Yidden have to know that the heel is so bright and great. If our souls are so great, how can we be dealing with such dark tests at the same time? It is not because of the lowering of the generations in the time before Mashiach. It’s simply because of availability. “When something is available, then it doesn’t matter how big your neshamah is.” Many bachurim struggle in this area. They were exposed from age nine to 11. It’s the first time in history putting children in this situation. “It’s a g’zeirah, not an aveirah.” Today, children are being exposed to the worst tum’ah. We have to fix ourselves. We need to understand this. Children are being exposed to things against their will. If we know this, then we approach them with proper respect. They deserve our respect.”
Someone asked what we can do besides using a filter. Rabbi Stark explained that filters are fences and fences are crucial. Filtering is one aspect. Another aspect is asking ourselves what our value system is. A lot of bachurim feel that they have been taught that they need to be put into a cage. “All avodas Hashem starts when you realize that you have to make a decision.”
A coach teaches his team that if you miss, you get right back up. If you only focus on losses, you create a team of losers. If your only focus is on failing, this is not good. “We have to teach our bachurim that they are strong enough to make the right decision if they are in a situation with no filters.”
Divrei Torah tell us that everyone will be in a situation where they won’t have a filter and they will have to make a decision based on their value system.
In Shir HaShirim, there is a fence of roses. The Alter taught that we don’t trample on roses because they are too beautiful. So, we need to teach our generation that they will succeed even when they don’t have a filter.
Next, someone asked what our musar approach to k’dushah is. Rabbi Stark said that today is different, and fire and brimstone arguments will not be effective with this generation. This type of argument will just make people depressed. Instead, we need to know that Hashem loves us. He wants us to work on ourselves. “We have the ability to fix our problems. Just as we can do t’shuvah on any aspect of life, we are capable of doing t’shuvah on this.”
He said: “Hashem loves you. He believes in you. You can fix this through t’shuvah, tz’dakah, and t’filah.”
We need to open communication with our children and tell them that if they see something upsetting or that they don’t understand, they should tell us.
Ages 18-20 are a good time to discuss the Jewish view of marriage. Don’t look at pictures of other peoples’ engagements and weddings. It leads to jealousy, so it’s not okay to look at this. It can cause depression. Teach them to have eyes just for their own home.
Next, they need to understand that they represent a sheim tov, a good name. Yosef passed the test of Potifar’s wife because Yaakov said, “Your name will be taken off the Eifod.” Rashi says that it means, “You’ll lose your good name.”
Sheim tov is who you really are and what you represent. “When you have a sheim tov, you can do tremendous things.” He added, “Without a name, a person doesn’t have a sense of strength.”
He shared that it shatters a child to discover his parents are looking at inappropriate things.
He said, “It’s ugly to live in two worlds at one time.” He also noted how everything is recorded today.
Addictions are rampant. There needs to be sympathy because this is a holy soul. Just as we have sympathy for someone with a physical ailment, so we should have sympathy for someone dealing with an addiction. If a person fell into something, he needs chizuk. He needs to be told that he is good.
By Susie Garber