The Time Our Principal Was a Little Obsessed With Sexuality

Another one from Rose, who learned from her principal what is important to obsess over. 
We had an interesting principal.
One time our teacher didn’t come so she came in and told us to all get a Tanach.
“Open to the last Perek of Achrei Mos.” That’s the list of forbidden relationships.
She made us go around and read it all in both Hebrew and in English.
Then she gave us a speech that lasted two periods.
She went on about how the Torah wastes no words on these forbidden relationships. How harsh the punishment is. How we create gedarim go keep us away from them.
She pointed to two pillars on opposite ends of the room.
“If that one is tumah, and that one is tahara, then every geder around tumah pushes us closer to tahara.”
“Maybe it’s not necessarily true that  brushing someone’s hands while getting change will lead to znus, but talking to a boy in a pizza shop definitely will.”
I remember once she was talking about gedarim and she turned to the 12th graders and said “I just gave my Achrei Mos spiel to the ninth graders. Remember how uncomfortable you were? Now you understand why I do it.”
As the 12th graders filed out I overhead one say “I still don’t get why she did that.”
Another speech she took a period for:
She handed out printed sheets from Mishna Berura about davening in front of women.
“The reason that I can’t be in the room with my husband while he’s davening is so he shouldn’t have sexual thoughts about me. Similarly with keeping my hair covered in the house, in case he has to make a brocha.”
It was a weird thing to say to a bunch of ninth graders. If there was one thing we were pretty sure about, it was that nobody every had any sexual thoughts about any of our teachers.
Our school rulebook said socks should be “blue or black and shoes should be invisible in design.”
I remember in ninth grade I was so idealistic I spent days shopping for shoes that were the same color as my socks and even the stitches matched my socks so you almost couldn’t see them… my mother would joke for years about my shoes being invisible.
Anyway it was silly sock day, which means we wore colorful socks because of something to do with GO or Mishmeres.
In honor of silly, sock day, I went shopping for duck socks specifically.
Apparently nobody cleared this with the principal. So on Silly Sock Day, she was astonished to discover us all walking about brazenly in colorful, patterned, illustrated socks. She stopped a few students in the hall and asked about the socks situation — is this a new trend?
She was assured they would disappear tomorrow — it was Silly Sock Day.
She laughed. “I don’t mind girls expressing themselves with harmless trends. Only when it’s overtly sexual.”
Given how some high school principals are, I guess I should be grateful that she couldn’t think of anything overtly sexual about silly socks.
The Time Our Principal Was a Little Obsessed With Sexuality

The Time My Teacher Assumed Too Much

This one is from BaisYaakovLiberal: 

My teacher was talking about the power of habit. She told a story to illustrate her point. There was a rabbi (sorry, I don’t remember his name) who never put his hand below his waist.

When he passed away, people tried to straighten out his arms [for burial] but they remained straight.

Clueless girl: “Why did he keep his hands there?”

Teacher: “It’s an inyan of zehirus.”

Clueless girl: *Looks confused*

Me: *cracks up*

The Time My Teacher Assumed Too Much

The Time My Father Taught Me Rashi & the Teacher Was Offended

This past year, while following along in the Chumash, I came across something astounding. It was the story of Reuven switching his father’s bed from one tent to another. Except that’s not actually what it said. The meforshim argue a bit. Nobody likes the pshat. But um, there is the pshat. It’s amazing I missed it for 29 years. Well, not really amazing. What you learn in school colors how you read the text forever after. I’m constantly astounded to discover that what’s in the text, and the Midrashic, Rashi version I remember, are often very, very different stories.

And then there’s the parts you just never learn. For the longest time, I thought Yehuda and Tamar just sat down for tea on the side of the road and chatted for a bit while the other shepherds went on ahead. I didn’t really get why her producing the staff saved her, later on, but whatever.  Things were different back then.   You can’t ask too many questions about these stories.

So I was amused, but not astounded by this story from Rachel:

It was a normal weekly Shabbos table and we were discussing the parsha. My father said something about Dina being raped by Shechem.

“What? No way!” my sister exclaims. “That’s not what happened. I learned that he married her because she went out and wasn’t tznius.”

My father showed her the Rashi. She was shocked.

Well, the next day in school, my sister couldn’t wait to spread this perspective-changing information. She passed a note to her friend during class. Obviously, that wasn’t the last note on the subject. There was a flurry of back and forth and of course the teacher caught them, confiscated the note, and read it.

Next thing, my mother is getting a call about it from the teacher! Apparently it was inappropriate for my father to teach his daughter Rashi. Or maybe it was inappropriate for my sister to tell her friends the Rashi. Either way, the teacher wanted my mother to know that she was informing the principal about the dissemination of this Rashi through my sister.

Luckily, the principal was more reasonable than the teacher. She told the teacher to let it go, and did not make a big deal out of it.

Story from Rachel. 


The Time My Father Taught Me Rashi & the Teacher Was Offended

The Time My Teacher Failed to Make Yehuda and Tamar Forgettable

Another charmer from Mindy.
We were in fourth grade when we reached the story of Yehuda and Tamar in Chumash class. Normally, in Chumash class, we picked over each passuk, translating every word, looking at the Rashi, memorizing and reciting and answering questions and filling out “Mi Amar El Mi”s and “Al Mi Ne’Emar”s ad infinitum. So when we reached the story of Yehudah and Tamar, and the teacher announced we would be doing something different, we all knew something was up. (At least, I did.)
Back then, I thought my teacher was this big grown-up adult. Now I realize she was a young girl who got married later that year. I still remember her huge happy smile at her wedding, which we all happily attended. It’s to her credit that she didn’t skip the Yehudah and Tamar story entirely, which would have been entirely within her rights to do.
Instead, she told us to drop our pens and papers; we didn’t need to take notes- we could just listen. She told us aloud, outside the text, the story of Yehudah and Tamar. Little fourth grade me sat enraptured in my seat. I thought it was terribly romantic. (Sadly, I no longer think the same.) I was spell-bound and burned (pun intended) every detail of the story into my mind. Our teacher finished the story, and we went on to other learning. We were never tested on the story and we never reviewed it. It was as if it had never happened.
Several months later, we had some kind of siyum. Our teacher asked us to prepare any portion of our Chumash learning to present to our class. Well, of course, I went ahead and chose the most exciting story we’d learned to prepare. I wrote it all up on a double sided paper in blue ink, and happily read it to the class as part of our presentations in vivid and unproscribed detail.
When I was done, my teacher blinked from her seat at the side of the room, and said in a surprised tone of voice, “I didn’t think you would remember that.”
The Time My Teacher Failed to Make Yehuda and Tamar Forgettable

The Time I Asked A Non-Innocent Question, Innocently

This story was sent in by Dreamer, who was profoundly innocent for longer than you’d think possible. 

I was in eighth grade and and we learned that Rivkah was an akarah for 20 years before she had Yaakov & Esav at the ripe old age of 23.

I raised my hand to ask the obvious (to me) question: “How could she have been an akarah for so long if you can’t even have kids until you’re 12?”

This was a perfectly innocent statement. I had no idea where babies came from or the significance of menarche. I was just repeating a fact I’d been told, probably by my mother when younger.

The teacher looked at me for a very. long. time. Then she ignored me and went on with her lesson.

I still think it’s a valid question.

Editor’s note: I never realized that Rivkah gave birth so young! 

The Time I Asked A Non-Innocent Question, Innocently

How a Stammering Teacher Taught Me Textual Skills


From An Anon BY Girl

Bais Yaakov provided me with a wonderful foundation for higher learning.
Yes, you read that right.
See, it started in seventh grade navi class.

We were learning about Dovid HaMelech, who had trouble keeping warm later in life. He had disrespected clothing, that time that he stuck it to Shaul by cutting off a piece of his cloak and going “nyah nyah, look how close I got to you, I could have killed you but I didn’t, who’s the bad guy now.” So clothing refused to keep him warm, and an old man has got to keep warm.

The posuk says:
1 And king David was old, he came into his old age, and they covered him with clothes, but he was not warmed. א וְהַמֶּלֶךְ דָּוִד זָקֵן בָּא בַּיָּמִים וַיְכַסֻּהוּ בַּבְּגָדִים וְלֹא יִחַם לוֹ:
2 And his servants said to him, “Let them seek for my lord the king a young girl, a virgin, and she shall stand before the king, and she shall be to him a warmer, and she shall lie in your lap, and it shall be warm for my lord the king.” בוַיֹּאמְרוּ לוֹ עֲבָדָיו יְבַקְשׁוּ לַאדֹנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ נַעֲרָה בְתוּלָה וְעָמְדָה לִפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ וּתְהִי לוֹ סֹכֶנֶת וְשָׁכְבָה בְחֵיקֶךָ וְחַם לַאדֹנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ:
3 And they sought a beautiful young girl throughout the borders of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunemitess and brought her to the king. גוַיְבַקְשׁוּ נַעֲרָה יָפָה בְּכֹל גְּבוּל יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיִּמְצְאוּ אֶת אֲבִישַׁג הַשּׁוּנַמִּית וַיָּבִאוּ אֹתָהּ לַמֶּלֶךְ:
4 And the young girl was very beautiful, and she was a warmer to the king, and she ministered to him, but the king did not know her. דוְהַנַּעֲרָה יָפָה עַד מְאֹד וַתְּהִי לַמֶּלֶךְ סֹכֶנֶת וַתְּשָׁרְתֵהוּ וְהַמֶּלֶךְ לֹא יְדָעָהּ:

My teacher was a lovely girl, straight out of seminary, doing her year of teaching while waiting for her bashert. In seminary they teach you all sorts of wisdom about teaching. But she must have slept through the day when they discussed how to hide from your students that the Torah actually talks about sex quite openly, even if it was just to clarify that it didn’t happen.

At least we know that she is emesdig and has a hard time lying.

Because when we got to these psukim and  she was translating for us, she stuttered and stammered, and said, “They found a young girl to keep him warm. We don’t really know what that means.”

I was too young to look in Metsudas Dovid and Metsudas Tzion on my own then, but this struck me as somewhat puzzling. With all those thousands of years of study, had no one attempted an explanation about how a young girl could keep an old king warm?

When I got home from school that day, I expressed my confusion about this to my mother.

“Of course we know what that means!” she said. She didn’t tell me what it means, though.

After that, I knew that whenever a teacher said something that struck me as “off,” I would do well to find out some more on my own. I developed many methods of finding out information, which of course stood me in good stead when I started college.

And I have to say I’m grateful to my naïve and inexperienced and clueless Bais Yakkov teachers for that.

How a Stammering Teacher Taught Me Textual Skills