MAILBAG: Thanks for Flushing My Hard Work Down the Drain


As a rebbi for more than a decade, I am stunned and perplexed at the growing trend of families going on luxurious vacations over the midwinter break.

I can already see people rolling their eyes and shrugging their shoulders, but if you realized the impact that these vacations have on young impressionable children, you would be up in arms.

From the beginning of the school year in Elul/September, rebbeim like myself devote our kochos into every talmid. For months, we work hours on end each day (yes, beyond school hours too) to give every child the chinuch they need and deserve.

I know many people think my job is easy, but it’s not. Ensuring that every one of my talmidim is inculcated with a proper sense of direction and that their every academic, social, psychological, spiritual and even physical needs are met, is grueling at times. But seeing the talmidim grow day after day, week after week, and month after month, makes it all worth it and more.

That is, until midwinter vacation comes around. Each year, I get a pit in my stomach when this break comes because I know what will happen when the students come back.

Most of the talmidim have sensible vacations. They go ice skating, or to a museum, or some other wholesome experiences that allows them to enjoy themselves and recharge for the remaining winter months. Others, however, do more. A lot more.

Their parents are not satisfied with a simple, nice vacation and additional family time. No. They need to go to Florida, or Cancun, or the Caribbean. Even if not going that far, they need to put on a show of wealth and vanity, stuffing materialism down their children’s throats throughout the midwinter break.

Do you know what results from this? You think those kids come back ready to learn and shteig? Not even close. They are disasters when they return, and the wrecks that the vacation turned them into in turn destroys everything I try to accomplish in the classroom and lays to waste what I accomplished with those talmidim individually.

You see, when these talmidim return, they have everything but learning on their mind. Their young brains and imaginations have been filled with gashmius, often inundated with things that are inappropriate even for adults to see, and saturated with every frivolity the world has to offer.

It can take upwards of a month to get these kids back on track. It’s a process of undoing all the damage their own parents inflicted upon them by way of trying to give them a “good time.” It might have been fun in the moment, but just recognize that when you do these things, you are taking a sledgehammer to your child’s growth.

And the classroom itself? It’s a mess too. When a few kids are not acting right because outside influences destroyed their minds, even temporarily, the whole class goes off the rails. Trying to teach becomes a hair-pulling adventure of misery and disappointment.

Parents, stop doing this to your kids. Stop doing this to their rebbeim and teachers. Your kids deserve better; their mechanchim deserve better. Stop flushing my hard work down the toilet so you could blow your money on materialistic pursuits that I can assure you won’t fill the emptiness that pervades your heart and soul.

A distraught Rebbi in the Tri-State area.

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.


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  1. ” Stop flushing my hard work down the toilet so you could blow your money on materialistic pursuits that I can assure you won’t fill the emptiness that pervades your heart and soul”
    With all respect to the rebbe who authored this letter, I’m certain you have great chinuch skills but I’m less certain about your psychiatric credentials. Not all yidden who b’h have the resources to take their families on a winter ski trip or a warm weather locale during the winter break do so in some desperate effort “to fill the emptiness that pervades their hearts and souls”. Please don’t generalize.

  2. If a family can afford a week in Florida – what is wrong with that? Traveling with a bunch of kids on Spirit and staying in a small apartment is not that expensive (for many families) – and also not always a “vacation” for parents, really. If your school offered vacations on weeks when others do not go there – it will be even cheaper.

    Now, if families can not afford it, but still go “to show wealth” or do other strange things, then it can be a problem.

  3. Chazak Ve’ematz. He is saying the pure truth. You can put your heads in the sand and deny it. I used to go to Florida to visit my grandparents as a pure elementary school boy and the shmutz that it filled my heart with has never been erased.

  4. Haha yes it does. Also your opinions keep changing. Are you concerned for yourself or the kids chinuch? Why does it keep jumping back and forth. Also not every person going away somewhere exotic means they can’t have a good time and not come back like this. This can happen with anyone going to the local park too the situation has to do with the parents not with anything else. You sound sick and not sure what you want just to show that your work is valuable and we are wasting your time??? Who’s paying your bills? I know Hashem plans it out for everyone but your not in those people shoes…. Don’t say things just cuz you feel your teaching skills are being affected. Maybe you should be the kid in class and we’ll be your Rebbi. You reek of anger jealousy and looking to cause fights for no good reason!

  5. The rebbe is well meaning but you lose your punch when you dramatize! You could see from some of the comments above mine – I chimed in when there were 6 posted. You make a good point but when you overdo it your whole message isn’t taken as seriously as you hoped. Yes, some parents overdo it. Yes, it hurts the overall aura and may damage a little of what you accomplished. But not to the degree you described. I’m unnerved by how many families have gone to water parks, ie. Camelback, Wolf lodge etc. The water activities are not separate and all are running around in swimming gear! Oy, ah Bruch!

  6. There’s another issue as well and that is the parents that find it necessary to leave before the scheduled break and far worse come back after the scheduled break, think about what it does to the students whose parents choose to follow the rules whether they are going away or not but keep their plans line in with the schedule. Do parents who bring their children back late realize how detrimental it can be for the next week or two for that child who’s getting off on the wrong foot not to mention what it does to the other children in the classroom.
    Obviously there are exceptions to everything and parents that reach out to Rebbiem in advance, but all too often they are the exception.
    If a family ffeels the need to extend the vacation for whatever personal reasons it is always better to leave earlier than to come back late.

  7. as a chabadnik, I strongly suggest everyone to learn chassidus.
    It is the ONLY remedy for our generation, for all the nisyonos that we are going thru in these days before the arrival of moshiach.
    Taamu ureu, ki tov Hashem!!
    Get connected to Hashem Bpnimius!

    The gashmius, the kovod, the Gaava, everything is Klipos, yetzer hara…we need to get rid of this bad in our lifes…

    More Torah, specially, the part that it used to be a secret and now is revealed, will bring more light in our lives!

  8. I usually never comment on articles but I must say your talmidim are lucky to have you as a rebbe. You get it. Thank you for speaking out and I would love to see more articles like this.

    And before people scream that this author is jealous, guess what, there are plenty of individuals of means who can afford these vacations and don’t go because they understand what it means to really be a yid.

  9. Here a specific point:
    When the Yeshiva says to be back on Monday , and YOU keep your child on vacation for another day, you have just taught your child that in your family’s value system, vacationing is MORE VALUABLE than learning and following the rules.
    That’s not good Chinuch

  10. There is a sicha by the Lubavitcher Rebbe agonizing over the break-time trips to “the country” as it was called back then. Describes what this Rebbi is saying here…


  12. “I used to go to Florida to visit my grandparents as a pure elementary school boy and the shmutz that it filled my heart with has never been erased…”
    HR: Hard to believe. DeSantis was still a pure little conservative wannabe back then and Trump wasn’t spending much time in Mar a Lago so I can’t imagine they were able to fill your heart with that much schmutz. In the current environment, its more credible judging by the hateful rhetoric coming out of Tallahassee the past year or two. Even the Florida legislature is meeting in Special Session next week to go after Donald…(the Duck, along with Mickey and Disney, not Trump).
    On a serious note, see a cardiologist or thoracic surgeon regarding new, nminimally invasive cardiac schmutz removal procedures

  13. not nice letter…..Rebbi needs a Rebbi, how dare anyone tell a parent what to do with a child’s holiday or its cost ….it is not anyone’s business….period… have a yeshiva, deal with that….keep your mouth and evil words of spending which is a lie away from evil….sad but true this person needs a very big talking too and would never sit at my shabbos table…insulting

  14. Dear Rebbi,
    Thank you for this letter.
    Unfortunately, as you can tell from the responses it won’t affect the people who your are speaking about. They are missing these sensitivities and even a line like “I can assure you won’t fill the emptiness that pervades your heart and soul” is meaningless because they don’t even realize they feel that.
    However, it does provide chizzuk to those of us who don’t expose our children to these things, even those of us who can afford to yet still don’t (of which there are plenty among us so don’t say this opinion is rooted in jealousy) to hold fast to our standards.

    Thank you and hatzlacha

  15. With all due respect this rebbi is 1000% right. The fact that this rebbi is hurting and in pain I believe he’s genuinely hurting for the children. Going to these warm places brings a lot of ניסיונות. The prituzes by the pools and especially by the oceans is so detrimental to our eyes. What we see has huge impacts on our נשמות. The ocean is full of pritzus. You will tell me you have a private beach or private spot at the beach then you are a יחיד and you are the exception.. Till you get there we will not discuss.
    Pools unless you have a private pool is also an issue.

    I’m a regular בעל הבית like all of us and we all want to have the fun time and I also am wrong at times. More times than not I’m wrong. Even so we need to hear the cries and screams from heaven hashem and our rebbeim.

    There is צרות everywhere you turn. Drowning on Florida and one in Aruba. Young dying, young having strokes. Something needs to change.

    I’m not saying don’t go away. We all need a recharge and recharge is 100% needed. How do we do it is the question.

    Going to warm weather is good. What do we do when we are in warm weather. If you have a private pool or private place to swim כל הכבוד. You want to go out to eat once or twice that’s great. But when you go out 2 times a day for 5 -7 days straight and you spend hundreds and thousands of dollars that’s pointless and throwing away money

    When your kids come home and they need to tell everyone about their vacations that’s an issue.

    You come and go as you please and it doesn’t become the talk of the town for the next week that’s great. To rejuvenate is great. But when vacation is for everyone else then that’s an issue.

    I’m for rejuvenation and having a fun time but it needs to be in תורה environment.

    Go swimming
    Go Do water sports
    Go out to eat – moderation.
    Relax and sit in the sun

    Remember to daven 3x a day and sit and learn for an hour or 2.

    The rebbi is saying just don’t throw all of Yiddish kite away.

    Baal haboss. YL

  16. What about going to Eretz Yisroel? Is this about the boys or does it include girls as well?
    This is an issue that we will discuss until summer when the next vacation period comes our way.

  17. This Rebbi is not exaggerating. Anyone in Chinuch knows that this is true. Those who blast the Rebbi are chiming in abour a subject that they clearly have no knowledge of, and should be ashamed of themelves.

  18. Gosh. Every time I read a comment by Gadol I feel like I need to bathe in acid.

    Sarcastic and ascerbic and a know it all.

    As if he – or she – or whatever pronoun it is – had never been effected by something it read or saw.

    Please. For the sake of us all. Tell us who you are so we can never inadvertently find ourselves within your Daled Amos.

  19. Time off from work and school is essential for mental, physical and spiritual health. Don’t cancel winter school breaks. How one spends the time off is another question.

  20. @Ubiquitin, when I was in Mesivta we didn’t have winter vacation but the very wealthy kids went anyway. I remember every year they would seem a little weird when they got back

  21. I’ve been a rebbe too, and boy can I relate.

    As a response to some commentators who scoff at this, I’ll just mention one thing to start. Every day counts. Especially in the younger kriah-learning grades. I would be able to tell you which boy will do badly on any given nekudah just by remembering that he missed ONE DAY of us reviewing it. Specifically though to target certain comments:

    1) You’re just jealous- Hardly, I can’t think of a worse place I’d like to go to on vacation. Tens of thousands of people crammed into the same area, surrounded by filth of the worst kind, endless lines at attractions, with the only respite from overtired kids being stuffing a device into their hands so they can mind-numbingly watch videos or TV shows. “BUT IT’S EDUCATIONAL!!!!” No, it isn’t. And you know it.

    2) These things happen, good rebbes deal with it – This is ludicrous and doesn’t really deserve a rebuttal but maybe I should try. Good rebbes are the ones who wrote this letter. Yes, we deal with it, but it takes a month of fighting fires. You seem to have an impression of a rebbes job being done the moment the bell rings, but our nights are filled with parents’ phone calls and coordinating with therapists of all kinds. Bad Rabbeim ignore the kids and don’t try to teach them, Good rabbeim try dealing with educationg children in an impossible world of shortened attention spans and parents who think the rebbe is the villain for mentioning- like the commentator- that it is important for one’s child to have structure and not have their brain turned to mush by cocomelon or other nonsense.

    3) Get rid of midwinter – Yes please. I appreiciated the break, but it was never worth the fallout. Or do it the way some chassidish schools do it and have it from Tuesday to Wednesday

  22. Take your complaints to the school you work in and try to get mid winter vacation cancelled if it causes so much damage.

    The vast majority of parents would greatly appreciate it!

  23. As a mother of three children BH, I have to say I could not agree more. In my boys’ schools Talmud Torah is really Keneged Kulam. There is no winter break. If your specific child needs a break, you can take him (Al pi darko) I did take my daughter to Florida to visit Bubby and Zeidy, and I feel that is something not to be taken lightly, but we didnt go snorkeling, and jet skiing. We spent time with them. My boys don’t have the option, and dont want it. As a Rebbi who needs to deal with the fallout, is it possible for you to petition your school to end the midwinter break? All these parents asking for tuition breaks should be made to fill out where they go for midwinter break, it is very telling!

  24. “solution is simple….end Winter vacation…”

    Agree that the “solution is simple”……Stop trying to manage other peoples’ lives, stop trying to tell people how they should allocate their income, just STOP! If teaching kids whose parents choose to expose them to a diversified set of experiences is too stressful for you, find another line of work outside of chinuch or perhaps become a rebbe at some yeshiva which strictly limits where parents can take their kids but otherwise chains the bochurim to their shtenders 24×7.

  25. Litvock

    I was waiting for someone to say what you’re going to say and now you gave me my chance!

    There is no brains in having a rebbi scream about something that he reeks of with jealousy those are facts. It’s a shame on him he even thinks that his efforts are being put to the garbage! Who made him a rebbi himself or Hashem? Who made him have the now I see no skills to bring up and teach kids him or Hashem? So the same thing is with people and their vacations Hashem gave them that money to use. They are allowed to use money for a vacation when they feel it’s necessary or even not it’s their money you don’t know their nisyanos! We had a few commenters say they can’t afford it but it’s true… that’s the stupidest thing I ever heard of you can’t afford it how do you know what it will be if you would be able to afford it???

    I think the Rebbi should get a check on what he’s trying to accomplish with his letter here and Litvock can go get a check up with him at the doctors office. Don’t send me the results cuz it will contain a letter complaining why he got those results and we should all stop wasting money on vacations and pay for his health too.

  26. In Eretz Yisroel there is no such thing as “winter break”. Heimishe children, boys and girls, take their breaks around and during our Yiddishe holidays. There is no snorkeling, or water skiing or any of these goyishe pastimes.

  27. The rebbe makes a valid point, and in the view that I saw this post, he doesn’t say that schools should get rid of midwinter vacation. However when families make a whole ritual about their vacation and make a big deal, it can effect the student for a few days, especially if the family returns late from vacation.
    On a different note, I am very pro midwinter vacation. Students and rebbeim/teachers both need it. However, a ten day or full week vacation is way too much. An extended “off-Shabbos” starting from Wednesday 12pm dismissal and being off Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday is sufficient enough for parents to take off work for a few days to go to grandparents out of town, or even on a small out of town trip. It’s really good enough.
    What I don’t understand menahelim from schools that do not give midwinter vacation at all is, why are we treating students that they don’t need a small break? In a city where I live, most Yeshivas don’t give a break at all during a regular year and only a Friday and Sunday in a leap year. That is completely ridiculous.
    In a year where there hasn’t been any snowstorms so far, it’s really important to give a break even now.
    I would implore all the schools that don’t give midwinter vacation, stop being old-schooled and start being more considerate and give a Thursday-Monday vacation at the minimum.
    May Hashem bentch everyone with lots of hatzlacha.

  28. After reading hundreds if not thousands of articles in Jewish Observer, Mishpacha, AMI, and among others, the Mailbag in Theyeshivaworld over the last few weeks has been the most intellifent, most honest, most introspective. best articulated articles that I have ever seen in the chareidi press.

    Kudos the oped writers for writing and for Yeshivaworld for printing.

    We need more of this type of stuff.

    Keep them coming!!

  29. Since when has it become ok for the rebbi’s to vacay in Florida, LA or wherever… but kids who work very hard all year in school and need a break, it’s a huge issue because of tznius or like the author of this jealous article writes… “the impact it wreaks on kids”… does it not leave an impact on adults and rabbis as well? They are our role models and if it’s not ok for kids to go then it should not be ok for the rabbis to go.
    It’s time to live and let live!!

  30. When applying for tuition breaks and they ask you for a full breakdown of the family expenses, including how many cars you own, do they also ask where you go on midwinter vacation? They should take this into account. You will see how fast this trend will end.

  31. “Does it not leave an impact on adults and rabbis as well? They are our role models and if it’s not ok for kids to go then it should not be ok for the rabbis to go….”

    I’m assuming most of the chashuvah rabbonim who we see on the News Pages of YWN flying off on private jets (chartered by their chassidim) to Florida, Arizona, etc. for their winter breaks are NOT lying on the beach with a sefer watching the pritzus go by or offshore on a yacht giving a virtual schmuz to their talmidim watching the sunset. I think the comparison is a bit of a strech but perhaps Teal has seen this firsthand.

  32. BH we live in an OOT city where HARDLY ANYONE thinks of going to Florida for the weekend. We recognize all that this Rebbe expressed and provide all the fun little activities that kids need. Kids don’t NEED Florida, or any plane ride anywhere for a vacation weekend. Skating, sledding, indoor swimming, staying home and playing games as a family, or even 3 hrs at a Fun Activity place is literally all they need.
    I sooo can understand the frustration in this letter. I remember vividly as a kid totally spaced out in class and not present after ANY extravagant vacation of that sort

  33. Only give 1 day of vacation so parents won’t have the pressure to go somewhere fancy, cannot entertain kids for 2-3 days and stay home. Simple common sense.

  34. @Gadolhadorah!!!!!!! I’m very proud of your last comment!!! I can barely believe it’s you!!!!! Continue this way and you’re out of the club, even if you keep bashing Trump. The fact that you stood up for the Kavod of Rebbeim gives you a pass.

  35. Correct, but at this point the education is such a flaming catastrophe, that nothing can save it or speed up its demise. Strengthening the winter break is rearranging the seats on the Titanic. All of you who think your kids will end up frum are just fooling yourselves. Might as well not have kids at all.

    @Weneedmoshiach if you think we need “chasidus” to know that gaava is bad, you apparently don’t know what regular Judaism is.

  36. Does not smell right. I doubt a Rebbi wrote this letter. Most rebbeim today understand the broad spectrum of parents and families and their individual needs. Rather it’s an individual that would like to air their thoughts about mid winter vacation hiding behind the title, Rebbi.