The Joy of Self-Accomplishment
As we mentioned in the first two sections of our present
topic, we can learn from Hashem’s Creation of the world how to educate our
children and students and turn them into Bnei Torah. We find this concept
mentioned explicitly in the Midrash (Bereishis 4:2),which says that the
Creation of the World is meant to teach us about the giving of the Torah.
In Parshas Bereishis, we find HaKadosh Baruch Hu
naming His Creations using the word ויקרא?
Could Hashem not have said and written, "This is day and this
is night, this is שמים and this ארץ? Why the addition of ויקרא?
We find in a number of places that ויקרא refers to חביבות –
showing a liking for (see Vayikra 1:1 in Rashi). Here, as well, ויקרא can
be understood as a show of Hashem’s חביבות for his Creations.
Question: What promoted this expression of חביבות?
Answer: One’s own accomplishments give him great pleasure.
Hashem, as well, found pleasure in His Creations. And so we find that a person
prefers a small personal creation or accomplishment over the acquisition of
another’s great achievement. In Chazal’s words: A person prefers one measure of
his own produce over many measures of another.
The main objective of a teacher should be to give his
students a feeling of ‘geshmack’ – of satisfaction – in their learning. This is
accomplished, as we’ve seen above, through giving the student the tools,
direction and opportunity to accomplish through his own efforts. Therefore,
regarding the lighting of the Menorah, the posuk says "בהעלתך
את הנרות…", and not "בהדלקתך..", to
teach that the Cohen has to light the candles until the flame rises on its own.
As the Menorah represents Torah learning, we learn that a teacher should, as
well, guide his student until he can learn and accomplish on his own.
Why does a person prefer his own accomplishments which
result from his own efforts? Why does a student perceive even wonderfully
constructed and explained Torah concepts said by another as mere pieces of
information, while one small revelation or clarity on his part seems to fill his
whole being with simcha and self-satisfaction?
We can offer a number of explanations to the above question:
A person naturally feels that he is very important; that his
word and input carry great weight and should be highly valued. It follows that
his accomplishments are, in his eyes, the accomplishments of a great man and of
utmost value. Even though he may see or hear the great accomplishments of
others, they have limited value in his eyes, for the accomplisher and not the
accomplishment itself, is his main focus.
[We learn from the above an important lesson in chinuch.
A child will value the material he is taught according to the level of honor and
respect he has for the teacher. The more respect a teacher demands, the greater
impact his words will have on his students.
I found this concept mentioned in a new sefer called
"Avnei Chinuch", which collects Rav Shimshon Rafael Hirsch’s writings on
chinuch. The author quotes Rav Hirsch as saying that the level of a
child’s attention in class is dependent, not on the material learned, but on the
manner in which the teacher conducts himself. The more refined the middos
of a teacher are, the greater will be the desire of the student to learn from
him. Also, the stronger the impression a teacher has on his student, the more
assured he can be that his student will behave well and continue his learning
even on his own.]
Man has an unyielding desire for self-survival which is the
underlying force which directs all his actions. The greater his status, the more
secure he feels, thus improving his chances of survival. Self-accomplishment
raises his status in his own eyes and sometimes in the eyes of others as well,
and gives him an increased sense of security and confidence about his chances of
Hearing another’s input or accomplishment may even be taken
as a challenge to his own status, for he may feel that his chances of survival
have been reduced.
(3) Fulfillment of Purpose:
Each person is imbedded with numerous abilities and qualities
which have been afforded to him in order to use them in a beneficial way. In
short, each person is born to fulfill a particular tachlis – mission.
Fulfillment of one’s tachlis gives a person a great
feeling of satisfaction for he is fulfilling his G-d given role in this world.
His creation is seen, retroactively, to have been worthwhile. The more of one’s
faculties he uses in the learning process, the more he feels he is fulfilling
his tachlis, and the greater satisfaction he experiences.
(4) Giving to Others:
When a student receives information, awareness or direction
from his teacher, it may increase his knowledge and awareness, but he won’t
necessarily feel satisfaction.
Only when he learns something new on his own does he become
filled with simcha. Why? Because, when receiving from others, he is a taker, no
matter how worthy the cause. However, when a student creates and accomplishes on
his own, he becomes a giver, as he gives of his knowledge, his abilities and
Rav Dessler z"l, in "Michtav M’Eliyohu, Kuntras
HaChesed", explains that the act of giving is the greatest of Hashem’s
middos. He, Yisborach, gives, helps and has mercy on a person without receiving
anything in return.
On the other hand, continues Rav Dessler, the act of taking,
where a person desires to acquire for himself all that he sees as beneficial, is
the source of all bad.
A child’s personal achievement puts him in the category of a
giver and fills him with great satisfaction and simcha.
(5) Reward and Punishment:
A person receives reward or punishment as a result of his own
choosing. As one naturally wants, at least subconsciously, to amass for himself
as much reward as possible, he is driven to make his own decisions. Thus, one’s
successes which result from personal effort or decision bring him great simcha,
as he knows that a deeper reward (success) is awaiting him in a future time (Olam
Haba). In addition, the simcha he feels through self-achievement gives him
the impetus to achieve even more.
Parents and educators should give primary importance to
helping a child achieve through his own efforts, even if he will occasionally
stumble along the way. Once a child becomes in touch with his own abilities and
capabilities and experiences personal achievement, the satisfaction and simcha
he feels will propel him to achieve more and more and enable him to grow into
the great individual G-d meant him to be.