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Dreamscapes: Teaching Bitachon to Teens

Elisheva Appel

I was learning how to be unfazed by the bumps in life’s road and instead focus on the true purpose of our time here

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

 Mishpacha image

 

N

ame: Batya Seruya

Dream: Teach bitachon to teens

Location: Brooklyn, NY

My parents were pioneers in the Syrian community. My mother, who became frum on her own, was one of the first women in her community to wear a wig when she got married. That strength — the ability to go your own way when the whole world is going another — may be what gave me the nerve to introduce something new to the educational landscape.

About 15 years ago, I was learning Chovos Halevavos, Shaar Habitachon, with my husband, when I said to him, “Nobody knows this! I went to Bais Yaakov and I don’t know it. Neither does anyone else I know.” I’d heard people talk about bitachon, but without any real clarity about what it meant in their lives. Everyone has “ein od milvado” bumper stickers, but so few actually live it. Now, I was learning how to be unfazed by the bumps in life’s road and instead focus on the true purpose of our time here.

I started off slowly, teaching what I had learned with my husband to women in my community, then giving teleconferences to women I went to school with, and I saw that many people were also unfamiliar with the basics of bitachon. These women were daughters of roshei yeshivah, school principals —learned women! — and their lives changed dramatically when they were introduced to Rabbeinu Bachya’s teachings. Now, they found they could react with equanimity to setbacks big or small — whether the shadchan ignored their daughter’s résumé, or the cleaning lady didn’t show up.

When I saw how the awareness of bitachon was life altering, I asked myself, Why not teach it to teens, so they can start their lives with this gift? That question was the beginning of my seminary, Nitzotz Bais Yaakov.

 

I had no administrative experience at all, and barely any educational experience; I’d been a stay-at-home mother for all my years. But I was determined to share the message of bitachon.

When I prepared the advertisements for my brand-new seminary, I hesitated about putting in my name, since I’m not someone well-known. I called some more influential people, asking them to partner with me, but their reactions were discouraging. “So many seminaries have closed down. How will you compete?” they wanted to know.

Minutes before I submitted my ads, I looked up and said, “Hashem, You will be my partner.” It was the best partnership I could have made. The siyata d’Shmaya is magical.

We started to advertise before Succos, and that first year was spent recruiting. We had girls canceling the day before school started, but I tapped into the lessons I intended to teach and said, “Whoever is meant to come will be here.” I can’t say I wasn’t nervous, but bitachon is a lifetime of work and every little thought process has a cumulative effect toward bringing you closer to Hashem. Come the first day of school we had a class of 30. Now, our third year, we have enough girls for two parallel classes. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 582)

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