Rabbi Zecharya Greenwald
What’s the single most burning issue of the day?
The greatest single issue facing us today is the self-esteem of our children. This is a pervasive issue that is the root of and goes way beyond the many children who are not doing well in our society. We are raising a generation of children who are scared, superficial, and trying to be something that has been created by people who hope that with rules and regulations we can control a generation of children to meet our expectations. I deal almost daily with men, women, and children who are sad and disenchanted because they do not believe they can ever be good enough to be worthy of Hashem’s love.
I recently met with 16-year-old, 11th grader from a prestigious school. She asked if I could give her an idea that would help make her “worth something.” A few minutes of discussion taught me that she is successful in school academically and socially, comes from a nice family and does not suffer from emotional or psychological disruptions. But in her mind she has something worse than all of those things: she has a yetzer hara! She is remorseful and convinced that she is going to a very bad place because she is drawn to things that she knows are not “good.” She seriously believes that she is “evil incarnate.” She would never discuss this with her principal or parents because, in her words, “they would think I’m a problem child.” She wants to be “good, not a problem.”
This pattern is consistent with a young person faced with expectations that are not related to her persona, individuality, and capability. She is a good girl trying hard to be a perfect girl and convinced that her inability to be such makes her worthless.
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