Provide Yourself With A Guide

Monday, 30 April, 2018 - 2:05 pm



Provide Yourself With A Guide


By Rabbi Shneur Wilhelm, Principal


In 2008 I was invited to join Ach Sheli, a volunteer group that pairs college-age students with elementary school students. Through sharing stories, learning, and spending time together, its goal is to facilitate creating a bond between the two groups. To create a strong, productive connection between a young adult and a young child, between mentor and mentee. 


I will never forget one particular story that a young student shared: He disclosed that he had been going through some challenges both at home and at school, and he simply didn't know how to handle them. While at this gathering, he decided to ask his mentor for some advice. The younger student talked non-stop, for about 10 minutes. Even before his mentor could consider his response, the child said, “Actually, I recognize now that I am not even looking for a response! I just needed to share. I already feel better!”


This idea of looking to others for support, for guidance is stressed in “Ethics of The Fathers” (1:16). Rabban Gamliel said: “Provide yourself with a guide and free yourself of doubt.”


It is important for everyone to choose a mashpia, or mentor, someone with whom one feels comfortable and safe to share whatever is happening in one’s life, whether it’s to discuss huge life themes or a small problem that has just arisen.  


As my Ach Sheli story illustrates, in addition to actual communication, the mere fact one knows there is someone with whom to share anything, and to do so without worry, results in a sense of calm and serenity in our turbulent world, if not simply in one’s particularly turbulent day.


When our children see how we, their parents, their mentors, also are comfortable discussing issues with a mentor of our own, we model very healthy behavior. We influence them to look for role models and people with whom they can confide. For the mere act of sharing heavy burdens with another strengthens our own resolve and ability to work through -- instead of allow to build up -- life’s stresses and stressors.

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