For the fifth year running, Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman was invited to present at the National Conference of Educators of Blue Ribbon Schools. The Rambam Mesivta, which was chosen as a school of excellence, has historically been the only boys yeshivah high school in the country to have been so named. Last month, Rambam was pleased to learn that they were chosen once again and are part of the few elite schools in the country that have won twice!
Rabbi Friedman’s talk centered on the universal values of a Torah education. Citing sources from the Torah and supplementing them with the Mishneh Torah of the Rambam, he explained the importance of mentoring young adults in a non-judgmental and effective manner. “If there is even a scintilla of personal motivation, the message will oftentimes get lost, because the criticism is seen as being personal,” he explained.
Rabbi Friedman recounted the message of the Dubner Maggid, who was once asked by a newly successful man, “Rebbe, years ago when I had no money, I had a lot of friends and people liked me. Today, I am wealthy, but I have very few friends. What can I do and why is it? The Maggid, in his wisdom, replied, “Look out the window and what do you see?” “People,” he answered. The Maggid continued, “Now look in the mirror and what do you see?” “Myself,” was the reply. “Ahh, when you see others and engage with people, you have friends; but when you line the window with a bit of silver, you only see yourself.”
Rabbi Friedman quoted the Rambam and emphasized three important points in mentoring others. Firstly, in general, all criticism should be done privately. Secondly, it should be done with a caring voice. And lastly, it is important to be motivated by care and concern to help others correct their behaviors. The focus is to send a message to the person you are speaking to that the discussion is only being had for his or her benefit.
The lecture was met with enthusiastic nods of agreement, and many in the audience raised their hands to share personal experiences. The participants walked away with an appreciation of Torah values and principles. After a brief question-and-answer period, the lecture concluded with thank-yous and a round of applause.
A kiddush Hashem, indeed!