Weekly Story: The Power of Chinuch

by Rabbi Sholom Avtzon

When Mordechai saw the danger, he taught 22,000 Jewish children. The following is a contemporary story about the power of Chinuch.

Reb Moshe was a mechanech in various elementary yeshivos for some years. One day a friend of his called and said, Moshe, I recently purchased a few nursing homes and I need good managers. I know your talents and I think you would be perfect for the job, even though you never worked in this field. I am so confidant in your abilities that I am offering to give you the largest one to administer and Moshe I will pay you extremely well, your starting salary will be close to $1000 per day, I am willing to give you $350,000 annually.

Reb Moshe heard everything his friend had to say and then replied, I must discuss it with my wife and I will get back to you. Sure enough that evening after putting all the children to sleep, Reb Moshe did as he said he would and discussed the offer with his wife.

She replied, you committed your life to serve Hashem yisburach as a mechanech of his children, how can you just walk away from that commitment. I don’t think that you should give it up just because of his offer. So he went to sleep with the thought that tomorrow morning he will call back his friend and inform him of his appreciation of thinking of him, but that it’s not for him.

However, the following morning his wife informed him that she was sleeping on it and thought that perhaps he should accept it for just three years. They will then be able to return to chinuch with a tranquility that he had never had before as he will have in his bank account close to half a million dollars and won’t be concerned about needing money for bar mitzvahs and chassunahs, everything will be just great.

But at this point, he already dismissed the thought and wanted to reply a no, so he didn’t reply that day. They were still thinking it over. After a few days he began seeing validity in his wife’s thought and told her that he is thinking she is right. But she then replied, I also was thinking it over and I saw that you won’t be happy, your happiness is worth more than the money. Hashem will help us other ways.

And so it went, back and forth. One day, he said, we were invited to a chassunah in Los Angeles, that we weren’t planning to go. But I think that if we go there we will have a clear mind and make the proper decision.

So off they went to Los Angeles. The following day, Reb Moshe said, we are only a few hours away from S. Diego. Let us drive there and visit our friends that we hadn’t seen since we moved from there to Washington State.

In the car, they began seriously discussing this issue and then on Route 5, they noticed a sign, Starbucks next stop. Being that he was a Starbuck fan, he pulled off and went to buy his cup of black coffee. The girl behind the counter served him with courtesy and then asked him, “Excuse me, but are you perhaps a Rabbi?”

I am, he replied. But how did you know that I am a Rabbi.

Well not too many Jews with a yarmulkah and Tzitzis drop by here, so I knew you are a religious Jew and being that you have a beard, I thought that you might be a Rabbi.

Reb Moshe asked her, can you please tell me, how do you know about the Jewish practice of tztzis?

She replied, when I was a youngster, we lived in Diego and my parents, although not religious, wanted their children to receive some Jewish education; we should know about our roots. So they enrolled me and my siblings in a local Hebrew day school. In the sixth grade, we were learning how G-d proclaimed the Jewish people to be a holy nation and our teacher requested us to take a piece of paper and make a pledge that we will remain a holy nation, we will never marry out of the faith.

I made that pledge and even when I went to College, I kept faithful to that pledge and dated only Jewish men. I recently became engaged to a wonderful Jewish man and I am looking for a Rabbi who can perform the marriage ceremony for us.

Reb Moshe was listening attentively to what the girl was saying and was transported back ten years and remembered that scene perfectly. He even recalled where this girl was seating. And in a low voice he asked, Hanna is that you?

Her eyes opened wide, she was shocked, and then came a shrieking sound, Rabbi G.is that really you? Oh I am so happy; I really, really want you to officiate at our wedding.

Asking a co-worker to cover for her for a while, she went outside with him, and after explaining the situation to his wife they began speaking in earnest.

Reb Moshe’s wife was quiet the whole time and just stared towards the heavens. When they concluded their conversation and the young woman returned to her job, Rabbi G. looked towards his wife and saw that she was transfixed as if she was not there.

A few moments passed and he asked her, what happened? Why is she someplace else?

Turning to him, she replied, don’t you see what just happened? We came here to discuss if you should leave Chinuch, even for a short few years. Yet Hakodosh boruch hu, guided us to this coffee shop. Here you met a former student and she was Hashems’ messenger to inform you, how much an educator can make a positive lasting effect on their students.

Isn’t this a clear message that chinuch is worth much more than a very generous paycheck?

I heard this story this past Sunday from Reb Moshe G. himself.

The author can be contacted at avtzonbooks@gmail.com.

11 Comments

    • 3. Milhouse wrote:

      How did you get that from the story? It’s all about someone deciding not to quit his day job. It’s also about deciding what your day job. is. אנן פועלי דיממא אנן.

  • 8. Great to see it in print wrote:

    The Rabbi in the story does public speaking. He told this story several years ago at my school.

  • 10. Rabbi Avtzon wrote:

    When I wrote up this story I sent it to him before publicizing it on crown heights.info

    He asked me specifically not to mention his name and I am obligated to honor his wishes (just as I didn’t write the name of the person the previous week about the shalach monos)

    After two individuals emailed me personally I forwarded it with the request if I can publicize it and he asked me not to

    At this time I ask if someone has a story that they feel it would be interesting to the readers you can submit it to me at avtzonbooks@gmail.com

    Thank you
    Sholom Avtzon

  • 11. f.s. wrote:

    b’h

    The story fits in perfectly with the Rebbe’s Letter posted this week on crownheights.info – where the Rebbe addresses exactly this question, of leaving the vital position of mechanech to do “greater things”. And what concrete benefits has he accomplished since leaving chinuch? The Rebbe points to Mordechai as a role model of working with the children and bringing about our great salvation as a result.

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