Sleepwalking Along the Derech
The need for strong passion and emotion in our yiddishkeit is a topic that has been heavily discussed in recent years, including at various forums at the Agudah convention. However, at the special “Sleepwalking Along the Derech” session, despite the alarm and awareness, a few premier mechanchim offered a strong sense of hope and optimism as well.
A beloved veteran R”M from Yeshivas Mir-Yerushalayim, Rabbi Yosef Elefant, shlit”a, attributed much of the “sleepwalking” phenomenon to the contemporary technology culture where fantasy and glitz dominates over intellectual material. He explained that some level of slumber is inevitable and the power of hischadshus, renewal, is ingrained within every yid. However, Rabbi Elefant stressed that the power of renewal requires the yid’s intellectual powers, filled with Torah, to be harnessed. He advised parents to help boost their children’s minds and Torah learning, while protecting them from being drawn into the modern day world of fantasy. He concluded with the words of the Seforno, who explained that even a minor undertaking, a minor self-improvement, such as nezirus, offers a yid the opportunity to become a “new person” and extricate himself from his previous spiritual quandaries. “It is the yetzer hora who tells us ‘all or nothing,’ that only a big change will do,” said Rabbi Elefant.
The final speaker of the session – and the 92nd annual convention – was noted mechanech, author and lecturer Rabbi Yechiel Spero. Rabbi Spero explained that some spiritual dissipation after the peak years of yeshiva, kollel and seminary is natural, and he stressed that the most effective way to continue growing is to engage in action. Concrete accomplishment is within the hands of all, said Rabbi Spero: “You don’t need to be a yungerman to learn in a kollel; you don’t need to be a shadchan to suggest a shidduch; and you don’t need to be a mechanech to love a child.”