[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Re'eh 5773 – translated by R. Blumberg]
The best profession on earth is that of the teacher, be it male or female. It’s fine. It’s pure. It’s idealistic. It brings enormous spiritual satisfaction. It’s a marvelous profession. Go be a teacher!
Don’t say: “It’s beneath my dignity to deal with small children. I prefer older students.”
You’ve forgotten that little people will one day be big. In the Talmud (Baba Batra 8b), the Sages liken small children to stars. We might wonder how this comparison works when children are small and stars are big. The Ben Ish Chai, in his commentary Ben Yehoyada answers that stars, due to their distance, look small although they are really big. Likewise, children look small but they grow and grow.
Become a teacher! It matters not what type of school – religious, very religious, slightly religious, secular, boys and girls separate, co-educational. Obviously co-education is a forbidden arrangement, but how are the children to blame? They, too, need devoted teachers.
Teach normative children, children from troubled homes – go do it!
Yet I warn you in advance. It’s a hard profession. From every which way, you’ll find yourself under heavy fire: from the principle, the teachers, the students, unpleasant fellow teachers. The burden will be heavy. There will be lessons to prepare, homework to correct, a low salary, brazen students, disobedient students, bored students, failing students.
It’s really hard. You’ll have to find the line between friendliness and strictness. And sometimes you’ll also make mistakes and do foolish things. Heaven help us! So who needs such a profession? You do! It’s a great Mitzvah. Because there are successes as well. A lot of successes. And every success is an entire universe. Every success is the greatest reward on earth for you, and the majority is successes.
Even if you cannot see it, nothing you say will be in vain. No good word you say will go to waste. It will have its effect, either openly or surreptitiously.
Another student and then another. Dozens each year. Hundreds over the course of your life. Maybe a thousand. Mass battalions of students.
How fortunate you are, my friend. You’re building souls. You’re salvaging broken hearts. You’re increasing knowledge and joy, fortitude and wisdom and valor. You are building the present and the future.
What a World-to-Come you will have! What a life you’ll have here on earth! “These are the things whose fruits one consumes in this world while the principal is preserved for the World-to-Come” (Mishnah Peah 1:1).
True, the salary is low, but there are rewards with every student that succeeds. Go for it! Don’t hesitate for a moment! Go teach older children. Go teach younger children. And the smaller they are, the greater the positive influence you can have.
Rabbi Yisrael Salanter said, “The carpenter tramples on saw dust, the window maker tramples on ground glass, and the teacher tramples on souls.” As for you, don’t trample!
Thanks to you, your student will have a smile on his face. Hurry to become a teacher, and may G-d be with you in all you do. G-d will be proud of you. The Jewish People will be proud of you.
Have fortitude to become a teacher.
Don’t fall. Shoulder the burden -- a beloved burden.
Go there and don’t come back.
Go and build.
Build up your moral stature.
Build up your wisdom and knowledge.
Whether a homeroom teacher
Or a specialty teacher,
All are teachers.
All are beloved.
All kindle a flame.
They’re waiting for you.