5729 [1969]

Mr. [...]
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Greeting and Blessing:

I was pleasantly surprised to note in your letter excerpts of letters from your son, as well as the spirit of your comments in this connection. Inasmuch as there is no end to the good, I trust that there will be a continuity in this direction and that, moreover, the good influence of your son will create a chain reaction affecting all the members of your family.

I wish to take issue with you, however, in the matter of your youngest daughter who, as you write, is eleven years old, and resisted starting Hebrew school, but you "did not force the issue." You can well imagine my reaction to this. For surely, if your eleven year old daughter would have resisted going to school altogether, you would have found it necessary to "force" the issue—if the term "force" can be applied here. Certainly, insofar as a Jewish child is concerned, her Hebrew education is at least as important to her as a general education. This has been generally recognized throughout the ages, but it should be particularly recognized in our own day and age, for we have seen many of the greatest and saintliest of our people exterminated by a vicious enemy. Consequently, all of us who have been fortunate enough to survive must make up for this tremendous loss. On the other hand, the forces of total assimilation have grown much stronger in the free and democratic countries.

You may consider my reference to your daughters attitude, and to your attitude in this connection, no longer relevant, since you write that she has agreed to begin Hebrew school, though you immediately point out (with apparent satisfaction) that the method of instruction is "Habet ushma" (see and hear), a system which apparently does not aim to lead to vaaseh (do). Surely there is no need to emphasize to you the fact that when the Torah was given to our people, "Naaseh" was not only a condition of acceptance of the Torah, but a prior condition--"Naaseh" before "vNishma." Our Sages1 of blessed memory pointed out that Jewish identity and the very basis of Jewish existence, for the individual as well as for the people as a whole, lies in this great principle of "Naaseh" before "vNishma." Certainly this is the way to train and educate a Jewish child.

With blessing,