Rav Gershon Edelstein On Dealing With “Off the Derech” Children: Don’t Protest


Ponevez rosh yeshiva Rav Gershon Edelstein was recorded answering questions about how to deal with “off the derech” children.

“I’m strolling on Shabbos night with my son; it gives him a very good feeling. In the middle of the stroll, I see he takes out a cigarette to smoke,” a questioner asked. “Can I ignore it, because he won’t listen to rebuke? Or am I obligated to protest to the chillul Shabbos?

“No, no, you can’t protest,” Rav Gershon replied.

The sefer Ma’aseh Ish about the Chazon Ish (vol. 1 page 72) relates that a son who had left the derech once asked his father to buy him a car. When the father agreed on condition that he promise not to use it on Shabbos, the son refused to make the commitment. The Chazon Ish heard of the matter and advised the father to give him the car with no preconditions, for in this way his influence over him would increase.

Asked by educators what was best to emphasize at the thirteenth meeting of the annual Chinuch Conference, Rav Gershon said: “Tell the mechanchim to strengthen the talmidim in the severe prohibition of lashon hora and the obligation to fulfill kibud av vo’eim and bein odam lechaveiro, and that they should not be angry at each other.”

Regarding oral tests, which might encourage good learners but discourage the less talented, he said: “One should make a very easy test. The purpose of tests is to encourage talmidim.”

In regard to whether anything justifies publicly humiliating a talmid, he said: “It’s forbidden.”

As to whether to invest in a talmid who’s beginning to deteriorate at the expense of other talmidim, he answered:

“Why should others suffer? One can do both.”

He also discouraged sending an average bochur to a high-grade yeshiva, saying, “He’ll suffer because of that.”

Rav Elazar Menachem Man Shach used to tell parents, “In our generation, parents have only one function: to shower their child with love… The house must radiate warmth, for if not, he is likely to search it elsewhere” (Lulei Sorascha, page 65).

{Matzav.com Israel}


  1. Is Rav Edelstein’s shlit”a take only for the neshama where one should be lenient? In other words, if he takes out a knife ready to kill should he be rebuked?

    • Its obvious how you are trying to justify the unjustified. You could say the same for a Rosh Yeshiva throwing people out! Is that not raising a knife towards jewish children!

      • Anonymous 11:28 is talking about a physical knife that can actually kill themselves (or kill others). Why should one protest against that and not about killing his own neshama?

  2. I live the cherry pickers who pick what they want out of a conversation that fits with what they want to sell and push it. It’s called confirmation bias.

    • Chazon ish
      Rav Yakov kamenetzky
      Rabbi Ovadia Yosef
      Rav Shtienman
      Is that cherry picking?
      It seems you are the one cherry picking!
      Seeing how after the holocaust jewish education shifted from educating for producing rabbonim to education for the masses plus producing rabbonim. (Prewar the masses got a cheder education)
      Did Rabban Gamleil not regret his former position when Rabbi elazer expanded enrolment in the beis medresh?
      “Tractate Berakhot 28a (BT)

      A Tanna taught: On that day the doorkeeper was removed and permission was given to the disciples to enter. For Rabban Gamliel had issued a proclamation that no disciple whose interior did not correspond to his exterior may enter the Bet Midrash. On that day many benches were added.

      R. Yohanan said: There is a difference of opinion on this matter between Abba Yoseph b. Dosethai and the Rabbis: one says that four hundred benches were added, and the other says seven hundred.

      Rabban Gamliel became alarmed and said: Perhaps, God forbid, I withheld Torah from Israel! A dream took hold of him and he was shown white casks full of ashes. This, however, really meant nothing; he was only shown this to appease him.”

  3. Jot it down. Lashon hara is hard to even predict.

    Control your kosher and state of mind and get assistance if necessary. Hashem will let you help these children. They must see you in all of your strength if any of any of us must be able to help even one.

    Else, they are well to find their mistakes easier to digest. Its our problem.


  4. Those who promote the words of gedolim
    Hizharu B’divreichem
    The video clip is already being used to permit and ‘matir’ just about everything

    Hoshea 14:9

  5. If he smokers in front of me then I can give him a zetz in kop, he will understand not to smoke in the shabbos. Yes that is the correct answer and lesson. Otherwise we abingutiouus.

  6. “Ponevez rosh yeshiva Rav Gershon Edelstein was recorded answering questions about how to deal with “off the derech” children.”

    Perhaps his response was just for the specific person/case he was discussing at the time, not for everyone/all cases.

    • Then why did he allow himself to be filmed smart allec!
      Besides it obvious from the terminology used he is addressing general situations not a specific case.

    • In europe nonreligious and religious lived in the same houses! It seems people nowadays are holier then europe. To scared what the neighbors will say.

  7. How fullish of this whole conversation. Every child is different every situation is different. Every case needs his own judgment. To be asked by a dyan how understands the matzev.you could know the whole thora and learn 18 hours a day and giving shurim 50 years and still not be a’posek’.


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