Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
All of us feel that something in education has changed. Once, parents were able to simply give orders and the younger generation would obey. Today it’s more complicated. In the weekly Torah portion, parashat Chukat, an important educational principle appears. In the past, when Moshe Rabbeinu had to give the people water, he received a simple order: “Strike the rock and water will come out of it.” But in our parasha, after the passage of dozens of years, the instruction is different: “Speak to the rock in their presence so that it will give forth water.” Not to strike the rock — to speak to it.
The Torah has been compared to water. Our commentators explain that there is a clear message here regarding Torah, education, and any value that we wish to teach – and then “come forth” from – our children: times have changed, this generation is different. Those who left Egypt – the parents of the younger generation – were slaves. They were used to brute force. It was possible to give an order and say “because I said so”, and that was it. But you have to speak differently to the younger generation. Not with force, rather with love and persuasion until agreement is reached. Just before entering the Land of Israel, a signal is given: external authority is not enough, understanding and internalization are also needed. Not with a stick but with persuasive words and pleasant speech.
Wishing success for everyone.