Keith Brooks
International Business Executive Living and Working in Israel

This is NOT My Torah

This is a story about a Torah that does not exist. Oh, it exists in some people’s minds, but in an almost mythical way that is far removed from the reality of the text or even the intent of Hashem.

This past Shabbat as we were making our way to the local yeshiva field where our kids gather to play and hang out as they do every Shabbat, my wife and I were accosted by our kids and their friends. The frenetic talking, screaming and gesticulations meant something more than the usual arguments was amiss.

We tried to understand it all and what we found was a local faction of other religious kids wanted to play on the field. The field, being an open field, has a basic first come, first playing rule. We have at times worked out a shared time period when practicality required it because of the numbers of kids and teens that wanted to play on it, but the kids usually are very good about sharing it.

This time it was not so simple. It seems that the spokesperson, a boy of about bar mitzvah age, had a problem playing on a field with the girls. While I can appreciate his personal view, I was not prepared for the vindictively negative comments hurled at everyone by him. He claimed the kids were not religious, the girls were not wearing appropriate clothing and he was not allowed to play with girls.  An interesting viewpoint but acceptable in theory, that is until he started using more derogatory terms to refer to everyone.

Admittedly, my Hebrew is not good enough to even argue with a 12 year old, although I understood him quite well. My wife tried to intervene and provide some adult peace making but it was not so simple. It seems, in this kids yeshiva, his Torah says he cannot play with girls. He also implied a whole menu of things the Torah does not really discuss in any depth around clothing and what is or is not appropriate. I may not know the Torah completely from memory but what I have learned, I do know well.

In his Torah the pasuk of: וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹך
– ספר ויקראפרק י”טפסוק י”ח

“Love your neighbor as yourself” evidently never was mentioned in any of his learning.

Perhaps neither was there any mention of Loshon Hora in any form. Instead he, his yeshiva and perhaps his family, would rather perpetuate the Sinat Chinam that we were told caused the second Beit Hamikdash to be destroyed. Children learn from their parents and their environment.

In the end it was only 2-3 boys that sat out, the rest played ball with all of our kids. When the allotted time was over, our kids left the field and the others returned to play.

It would not have been such a big deal if the boy in question was so improperly taught not just how to play well with others but to not respect the girls at his age. Imagine what he will be like when he hits marriageable age.

Our kids, not just mine, but all of our friend’s children as well, were not happy, but did not choose to lash out at him for his lack of education. They tried to reason with him, a small skirmish or two broke out as one would expect from kids of ages from 6-14, but for the most part it was a battle of words. Nice to know my kids can now argue quite well in Hebrew.

There was no talking to the boy, nor any interest to listen to, what he considered, ignorant and non-religious people. If this is what his yeshiva teaches him about girls, I wonder what his sister’s yeshiva teaches them about boys.

Someone down the road is going to be extremely disappointed. Or maybe, get what they deserve.

About the Author
Keith Brooks made Aliyah in 2014 with his wife, 3 kids, and their dog. Keith writes about his Aliyah, Israel and Jewish life in general. Keith is CEO of B2B Whisperer, helping executives become better speakers and presenters. Keith advises B2B companies on their strategy as it relates to sales, pricing, marketing and competitive intelligence. Keith is a MassChallenge Israel mentor, an HCL Ambassador.
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