As we approach Purim, a day to which our Day of Atonement is comparable, I think it’s time we search our souls and see if there is anything we can possibly do to improve ourselves and our communities. Every generation has its nisyonos, every generation has one aspect of yiddishkeit which it needs to improve. Ours today is very serious. It affects yeshiva guys. At first it’s just a temptation, just something that niggles at the back of their mind saying “it’s not so bad—look everyone else is doing it, why shouldn’t I?” And this temptation grows and grows until one day, a kid goes home, locks himself in his room, and does this terrible aveirah.

But that’s not enough; this particular aveirah is more fun when performed in groups, so they start hanging out late, and with rougher crowds, crowds who influence them, telling them that this aveirah will bring them immense joy and satisfaction. And as a group, they go and do it, luring other bochurim in as they go. Unfortunately this aveirah isn’t mentioned very often as it is very serious and people are ashamed to come forward. After all, what would their rebbeim say—what would their shadchan say! What would the velt say when it hears that this aveirah is so prevalent in our community and no one is doing a thing about it!!!

I am, of course, referring to the terrible lo sa’aseh of Lo Sachsom Shor B’Disho, or DO Not Muzzle Your Ox While It Threshes. For years, kids have been coming home from yeshiva after a day of hard learning, locking themselves in, taking their oxen out of hidden compartments in their floors and closets, and making them thresh while muzzled. Those kids you see roaming the streets on Avenue M? They aren’t headed to Pizza Time, or any of the other supposed hangouts—no, they are headed to Marine Park where they can thresh with their muzzled oxen in the glory of the night air, in an open field, exactly as the issur was meant to be.

Unless we do something about this now, unless we start raising awareness about the issue of Lo Sachsom Shor B’Disho, we will soon be dealing with an epidemic. But it starts at home. I urge all parents to sit down with their kids as soon as possible and have a long hard conversation about this very serious matter.

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