Aderabah – Accentuating Positive Middos
Yeshiva Ohr Boruch
People have a natural tendency to judge and criticize others. Our Sages (Avos, Ch. 2, Mishna 4) tell us that this is not the Torah way of acting. “Hillel says …do not judge your fellow until you have attained his place”. There is a phrase in the famous daily prayer of Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk pleading for Divine assistance that “May jealousy of others not arise in our hearts, nor jealousy of us arise in their hearts. On the contrary, put into our hearts to see the strengths of others, not their faults …”
About six years ago, Yeshiva Ohr Boruch, the Veitzener Cheder, began the Aderabah (on the contrary) program, based on this beautiful tefillah and a popular niggun using this phrase in its lyrics, to develop harmony and friendship among its students. First, posters with Rebbe Elimelech’s tefilla were placed in the halls. The talmidim were encouraged to recite it daily, and learn it by heart along with its meaning. Then, they were encouraged to make positive statements about one another in class. The results were
remarkable; a spirit of achdus (unity) developed within each class and led to more respectful interactions among students at all levels.
This year, the program rose to a higher level. Called Ma’alos Talmideinu (our students’ strengths), a special form was designed to elicit written feedback from parents about displays of positive behaviors and middos tovos at home, and send them to the Cheder Office. The comments are transcribed onto anonymous certificates listing the student’s grade, but not his name, which are posted in the hallways of Junior and Senior Divisions respectively, students and parents alike are impressed by the multitude of
positive behaviors on display.
A unique outcome of this emphasis on positive behavior is that in addition to an increase in self-esteem, students are now attuned to recognizing others’ positive traits. Recently, when the Menahel, Rabbi Mandel, engaged a class in discussion as to why people tend to criticize others, a student replied with an astute observation: “Because they don’t believe in themselves. Some people only feel comfortable with themselves when they find fault in others”. In response to this remark, the next level of Aderabah, soon to implemented, IY”H, will be “Maalos Atzmo”, where the talmidim will be asked to submit what they see as their own greatest strengths.
Another positive outcome of the program occurred when a group of students who were playing ping-pong during recess saw some older students approaching, and in deference to them put down their racquets and balls so the older students could play. An older student reported to the Menahel how impressed he was with this display of respect, and the Menahel rewarded him for his positive comment. The next day, this student returned and told the Menahel, “my friend deserves a reward as well; he was the first one to express his appreciation for the younger students”.