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Education is About Cutting and Polishing Rough Diamonds


“Your father was killed in front of your eyes, your mother was sent to the death camps. You were a mere seven and a half years old when you were sent to Buchenwald…you survived alone. What motivated you to push forward and excel to the point that you are chief rabbi of Israel?”

This was Fidel Castro’s question to Rabbi Israel Meir Lau in their 1994 meeting.

“My father left a living will with my brother to instill in me a strong sense of accountability,” answered Rabbi Lau, “I was the 38th generation in a line of rabbis…this sense of commitment and obligation pushed me to continue on.”

In the delivery ward, every child looks alike. So pure, yet so rough – like an uncut diamond. No one is born polished; indeed, education is about cutting and polishing rough diamonds. Sometimes, the process hurts – there’s some scraping and it isn’t all that comfortable, but it is only through this process that the diamond’s brilliance is revealed.

G-d creates potential. And He entrusts us – parents and educators – to do the polishing. Neglecting to polish our diamonds is passive abuse of our children.

It may sound enlightened to claim, “I’ll let them decide when they grow up”. But the world doesn’t educate. Greatness doesn’t grow by accident. If Rabbi Lau’s family had simply “let him decide”, where would he be today?

Remaining undecided is letting others decide for you.

Don’t get distracted by the noise, dust, and mess. Remember, each and every one of us is an unpolished diamond. G-d entrusted us with the power of deciding when to polish our diamond. Why wait? Make those tough decisions now! The world is waiting for you to shine your G-d given gift.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendy