Provocative: An Evil?

Moshe Ben-Chaim


Reader: I was almost inclined to show your "Letter to Students" to my son until I came to the part where you said: "You may find my answers are different or even go against what your parents or teachers tell you. But that's OK. The goal is to learn how to think properly, not necessarily to agree with everything you hear. It's OK to disagree with your parents and teachers on Torah issues."
I think that when dealing with adolescents, a lot more tact and sensitivity needs to be used when discussing things that may be different than what they see at home. Teaching them to accept and deal with differences in a respectful manner is what's necessary. Your message seems to me provocative.

Mesora: I am sorry if you felt it was provocative in a bad sense, but it may well be provocative in a good sense. What I mean is that we must not shy away from an issue, even if it means we oppose our authorities. If you read some of the Talmudic debates, you will find that reputations play no role when one searches for truth. In no manner must one be disrespectful to those the Torah commands we honor, i.e., parents. However, if we disagree, we must say so. This is my point, that in learning and in all areas, honesty is demanded.

Parents should also appreciate - not subdue - children who have matured, enough, so as to oppose parents and discuss their own opinions and feelings.

Being provocative or opposing authorities are not evils. Dishonesty is.