• Jack Langer

Understanding Today’s Youth - Rabbi Daniel Kalish

Updated: Jun 9

INSPIRATION FOR THE NATION


Yaakov Langer:

Hey, Yaakov Langer here and welcome to my brand new show. Inspiration for the Nation. So, maybe you heard me interview other people before maybe you haven’t but regardless, the goal is going to be to give you great content, talking to some people that maybe never got a chance to sit down in a podcast and really say over their life, their hashkofas, their views and I really hope that you’ll enjoy this as much as I have been so far and this week the first episode I got to sit down with Rabbi Daniel Kalish, someone who I’ve heard of my whole life and I got to meet him in Eretz Yisroel. But I never really got to sit down and schmooze with him the way I did now and the way you just heard that clip. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was fascinating. I kind of went in thinking like, okay, like I’ve heard so much about him, the expectations were really high. And he definitely exceeded my expectations. I really, really enjoyed this conversation. We spoke about so much. We spoke about teenagers, emotional nuance and just really the revolution that’s happening right now. This episode is partnered with Yidflicks. You’re going to hear a little more about them soon but they are the top content creators for I guess the Jewish Netflix kind of. But you’ll hear more about them later and also this episode is sponsored in memory of Shimon Dovid ben Yaakov Shloime, someone that I knew personally and you’ll hear more about him and his legacy. But until then, enjoy this very special episode.



We can all use some inspiration to help us overcome the obstacles we encounter in our lives. Get ready for thrilling conversations about struggle and triumph with those in pursuit of making a positive impact in this world.



I’m Yaakov Langer and you’re listening to Inspiration for the Nation.



Okay, I am here with Rabbi Daniel Kalish, my first time in, are we in Waterbury?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

We are in Waterbury.



Yaakov Langer:

We are in Waterbury. Waterbury, Connecticut. A lot more hilly than I anticipated. This isn’t your first time here. Well, before you even got here did you anticipate you’d be living in Waterbury, Connecticut?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

No. When my wife and I moved here there were, we came with nine frum families. Living in the community fulltime was only one frum yid, a very fascinating yid. He was a bochur and at the time he was the only, I believe, fulltime. There was a family who was here, part of your travel, the doctor. There was a rabbi who was only here Shabbosos. So the only fulltime frum yid was a bochur. He was a 93-year old bochur.



Yaakov Langer:

Oh wow.



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

And he was the



Yaakov Langer:

This totally shifted in my head I was like okay like thinking of a 25-year old guy, and you’re like 93-year old bochur.



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

And we came with nine families.



Yaakov Langer:

What was the reason for, meaning there’s, I don’t know, Lakewood and parts of the Five Towns.



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

To start the yeshiva.



Yaakov Langer:

That was the goal.



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

That was the purpose and the goal and the dream was to build a yeshiva and then a community that would surround the yeshiva.



Yaakov Langer:

So, I meant, there’s thousands Boruch Hashem of yeshivos, what was your desire to open a place like Waterbury Yeshiva?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

To energize the bochur of today. To take the guys of today and the kid growing up today and reach him in a way, to reach him deeply that a guy can express, can connect to Yiddishkeit in a deep and meaningful way.



Yaakov Langer:

Was there like pushback from anyone saying, like. Maybe they didn’t know exactly what the yeshiva would look like but they’re like, no come on, it’s fine, we have enough yeshivos, we don’t need something like that.



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

So I’ll tell you before I, the high school, Rav Kaufman, who started Waterbury, asked me to start this high school 13 years ago. And I shared with people this idea and many people told me it can’t work, it won’t work. So I definitely had such a response, but Boruch Hashem, we’re having siyata dishmaya.



Yaakov Langer:

Were you worried about that or when people are like, it’s not going to work, you can’t do it. Or those type of things?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

No



Yaakov Langer:

It didn’t get to you. Why? Because



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

I think when you’re passionate about a mission and you believe in something then fears that might scare people away, you don’t get scared, because you believe in something and I thought this would work. I think like to describe the mission of the yeshiva, that’s how I would describe the mission and the yeshiva. And this is a thought, when the bus pulls up in September, in Elul, and two hundred guys, 180 guys show up, there’s a possuk beficha bevovcha la’asoso, about Torah, that beficha lasoso means that we’re capable of keeping Torah. You and I both, it’s not a shock that we can keep Shabbos. It’s not a shock we can learn. That’s beficha, we can physically externally do Torah. And to some that’s a chiddush, to some people who are struggling, to tell them beficha lasoso that you are capable of keeping Torah, of following Torah’s a chiddush, but okay, that’s one chiddush I want to give over. To many, to most it’s not a chiddush. Bilvovcha lasoso I think is an area that’s complicated. Bilvovcha lasoso means all of us sit in a shiur, the Rebbe’s talking, isn’t this geshmak and you’re sitting there and thinking is this so geshmak?



Yaakov Langer:

Right.



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

And there’s the guy inside, who sits there and could that guy connect to Yiddishkeit, can that guy be excited bilvovcho lasoso. That we are emotionally able and inside that person, the one who’s thinking, hearing, that we can bond with Yiddishkeit, bilvovcho lasoso, that, I want to connect our generation, I want to connect myself to Yiddishkeit in a deep and meaningful way, bilvovcho lasoso. That we can take the person we are emotionally and profoundly connect to Torah is a big mission in the yeshiva.



Yaakov Langer:

So I was in the yeshiva in Far Rockaway and I didn’t have the zechus of having your father as my Rebbe, I had Rabbi Ginsberg, but, so obviously, you know, you had your father was a Rov and he’s a Rebbe so you looked up to him like that, but what was the, I guess the tipping point that you or you and the people with you that said, we need this mission statement to exist? Like what happened that there was some, it seems like there was something missing?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

So I’ll be honest. When I came here 20 years ago Rav Kaufman’s vision at the yeshiva was what I just described. I came with older guys who were very, very serious about Torah. Some of them are principals today, marbitze Torah, Rabbonim, therapists, guys, people doing a lot of special things for klal Yisroel. And a very serious group of guys and Rabbi Kaufman brought younger guys who were more beginning their journeys to connect to Torah. And the truth is that I was coming to be involved in my part and wasn’t necessarily going to be involved in the other part and over the years I got pulled in and I started seeing it. So really changed. Definitely we wanted a yeshiva to be a beautiful makom Torah. It was really Rabbi Kaufman’s vision and it was his this point that every guy can connect to Torah and be excited by Yiddishkeit and I very much got pulled in. After many years of being in the Beis Medrash, Rabbi Kaufman asked me to start a high school. And at that point in the mesivtas when I really started getting involved 13 years ago, very, very strongly in this mission. And that’s when I saw over the years in the Beis Medrash, being involved in his, what Rabbi Kaufman had started really pulled me in to this world and to understand that we need to energize the regular kid growing up here to show him, prove to him that he can connect and be excited and internally fired up by Yiddishkeit.



Yaakov Langer:

It’s funny how Hashem puts us in these situations, you know, like had you known what you would have gotten into maybe, you know, back then you would’ve said I don’t know if it’s my type. But Hashem, it seems like, at least in my life but I’m sure in a lot of people’s lives listening, puts us in those situations where we’re like, no, this isn’t for me, I don’t know, and then we look back and like, thank you Hashem for putting me in that place and getting to me to where I am now. It’s interesting.



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

So, what you just said, Yaakov, is spot on. It fascinates me. You’re doing a lot yourself. How we come to our idealism. I definitely wanted to impact and my Rebbe prepared and fired myself and my friends up to be idealists.



Yaakov Langer:

So they feel that?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

Yes.



Yaakov Langer:

Oh and finally we’re going to have him on.



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

He’s a special, I feel that the idealism that he gave over changed my life. He actually, and I was a youngster and described to me the yeshiva that he wants me to start.



Yaakov Langer:

Really?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

Yeah, yeah.



Yaakov Langer:

And was it like?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

I can’t say, I don’t know. I don’t know, I’ve never asked him, was this what you envisioned, I never asked him. I don’t remember the exact details. But it was kind of interesting when I was younger and I wasn’t thinking about this describing the yeshiva I should start was interesting but nonetheless Rabbi Kaufman fired us up to be idealistic. So I knew I wanted to impact and teach. I had different thoughts what I would do. But the way this came about, the hashgogas Hashem is wild. And just to see you’re led and guided and pushed towards something, how it happened. My wife and I laugh about how it happened, how it came to be. It’s all yad Hashem how it came to be. I want to describe a little bit the yeshiva. I think it would be instructive. I want to describe. Schools by their nature, a school by their nature I don’t find to be very inspiring places. I tend to wonder, I would ask you, Yaakov, what you thought if we had a kid who wasn’t frum, not frum kids, didn’t grow up not now





Yaakov Langer:

Like a chid of yours or a student?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

No, let’s say you had a teenager who wasn’t frum. Would you think he would become frum in our schools. Just going through. He sits in 10th, 11th, 12th would he become frum.



Yaakov Langer:

No, I don’t think so.



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

I’m afraid I’m worried about that question and I don’t know if schools are that inspiring, they’re somewhat dry. A secular school tend to be very, very dry. Their classes, you worry who you are, what’s going on inside of you. This is the structure. The bell rings. Grade, class, test, they’re not very inspiring places. I don’t find them to be inspiring. And I tend to wonder if a kid only to bring out that point, would the kid just become frum? So there really three responses to the dryness of schools. I want to talk about what we’re doing I think it has value to klal Yisroel.

Yaakov Langer:

I’m thirsty to hear what you have to say.







Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

So I want to describe three responses to the school system, to the dryness. Response number one there’s a genre of schools that do this. I’m not very into this. There’s a, I’m not very into it not beshita, it’s just not what energizes me, it’s not what I feel I want to give to a youngster. There’s one genre of school that says to a kid who’s just gone to school and been very bored, disconnected and sits in class, maybe even in gemorah lectures and is not feeling anything and so they give him fun. So they go on a ski trip once a week, so they take them fun places. So we give here you’ll get fun. And that’s

a genre of school response to the dry school system is here we give more fun.



Yaakov Langer:

And what’s the down side with the ski trip mehalech?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

I’m not against fun. Fun is, everybody needs some adventure and excitement in their life. I’m not like coming to knock. It’s good that a kid has fun and many kids just the fact that they have fun that’s nice. That doesn’t, that’s not what I want to give, it’s not what I learned and want to give. Though it’s true all of us, you need fun, I need fun, you know doing geshmake things is yishuv ha’das there’s a mailoh to relaxing and doing something fun. That’s not what drives me but that’s a response to a dry school is to make something with fun. That’s one response. There’s a second response that talks to me much more. It’s very much part of Waterbury but it doesn’t capture its essence. The second response to the dry school system is that in schools it favors very narrow type of talent is valued. It’s a certain intellect and even in intellectual prowess it’s very specific who thrives in school. Automatically if your talent is celebrated and appreciated and successful that pushes you so the top kids in any school are going to be driven by being the top. It’s rewarding. They get a lot of respect for it and that can drive somebody even in the area of intellectual prowess is limited. It’s a certain you have a good memory if it’s a test based school, if it’s a lamdish based school so it’s a certain type of mind. I find it very limited what’s celebrated, what’s usable, what’s considered valuable and precious. I think many great people, you’re going around having an impact on klal Yisroel, promoting, teaching, bringing out something. You’re very skilled. I’m not convinced in schools and yeshivos we bring out, celebrate, develop people’s talents in a wide range. And every person has massive amounts to offer. There’s another genre of yeshivos which I consider ourselves part of as one part of the yeshiva.



Yaakov Langer:

This is the third one?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

It’s the second one.



Yaakov Langer:

Oh so you’re still on the second, okay?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

Yes and that genre has more areas you can star in. And it’s celebrated. If a guy’s an artist in yeshiva that’s celebrated not as a side point, not at night you can take an art class. I want a guy to, I had guys who’d drawn pictures of every musar shiur. I’ve had guys who’d drawn pictures of different and the yeshiva celebrates his pictures. We study them.



Yaakov Langer:

Is there ever like a talent that a guy maybe has that the yeshiva would say like, no that’s not as important or is there a talent in everything everyone does that could be channelled towards a good place?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

It’s an honest question and I only want to answer honestly that every talent’s valuable. I don’t say we succeed in it, tapping in to every talent and acknowledging, it’s endless. And we’re commanded to serve Hashem bechol mo’odecha. In every extra, all your money but not just your money, every kol midoh midoh shemodeh lecha, in every unique talent that you have to serve Hashem. So there’s a genre of yeshivos that gives much more areas. The Torah talks to every part of a person. If somebody’s a good speaker that’s crazy valuable. If somebody has charisma, if somebody has athletic ability, all of a sudden that gives them a platform to impact. So talk to it, celebrate it, not as a side point as part of what we could teach as a tool, as a gift from Hashem that could be used. So the one I was very, very happy. My wife and I saw a documentary that Reb Meir Shapiro that we appreciated a lot. And we were excited that in Chachmei Lublin he felt this point



Yaakov Langer:

Really?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

That there’re more talents. This guy had a good voice. He felt to bring it in. Just a good voice is an easy one.



Yaakov Langer:

Right, right



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

A guy’s a good writer. Somebody’s .. all different



Yaakov Langer:

Can you give me a challenging one that someone, like I can anticipate, a guy’s a good speaker to channel that. Like what’s an example of something that I wouldn’t anticipate would be celebrated, but?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

The artist is a good one because texture is how much drawing. We’ve had guys in yeshiva who energize the entire yeshiva, literally. Literally, I’m thinking of one bochur from Passaic, a beautiful sensitive person who’s an artist. His art like energized the yeshiva. We were into it. We studied what he was drawing. And he was talking to us and communicating things through art. So the artistic ability is one. There’re guys who write raps, who have really expressed things in the yeshiva, whether it’s a poem, whether it’s, and guys have written like that and we’ve like been inspired by it. We’ve acknowledged it as something important. So those are two more. I admit there’re many. The more sophisticated we can get in conversation with guys and study different talents and different abilities and show guys that the abilities we have are meant to serve Hashem and are important in the Beis Medrash.



Yaakov Langer:

My, I guess, old school way of, I guess maybe growing up in a way, where, you know, I went to yeshiva that these type of things weren’t celebrated would say I could imagine someone saying, like, okay, but these things are a waste of time. Like, how do you, what do you respond to that?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

Dovid Hamelech says, Ahalel Hashem b’chaya azamra lelokai be’odi. And the Malbin explains, azamra lelokai be’odi, the strongest expression of song to Hashem is be’odi, certainly means while I exist but be’odi means be’meod sheli, my own uniqueness. It’s impossible to me. Hashem gave people so many talents and capacities. I don’t think they’re nesinyos, I think they’re tools to serve Hashem. And when we look in this community there’re people all different unique people, that bring, there’s the baal koreh, there’s the baal tefilla, there’s the treasurer of the Shul. In every yeshiva by the way there’re people supporting the yeshiva that the yeshiva can’t exist without. So, those aren’t people, it can’t be it’s a bedi eved, something that you need lechatchila. So, we have to ask ourselves are we cultivating, are we encouraging, are we bringing out, are we firing up every unique person? To say it this way, Yaakov, you know the old water carrier who’s like a malach. And I don’t think we produce them anymore because today if the guy became a water carrier he’s a failed yeshiva guy.





Yaakov Langer:

Right, right



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

Why can’t the water, don’t we need a water carrier? We all need water.



Yaakov Langer:

Right



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

So, if we know we need it then it can’t be bedi eved, so let’s produce him



Yaakov Langer:

It’s interesting because like you hear about people, let’s say, even before the war, and like you’re saying, I don’t know if they’re a water carrier, but whatever it is, they’re like poshut people and you hear about, let’s say if they went through the Holocaust, like the sacrifice that they had and I would say, I’m probably a lot more, myself, I’m not even a learned guy, but I probably learnt a lot more than that person but the amount of Emunah and bitachon that they have, I don’t know, I don’t really see it as much as I would hope to and I read about them, we hear about them, but I don’t know what happened to them.









Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

What you just asked, Yaakov, exactly you just asked, I want to tell you a story. We had a Shabbos in Eretz Yisroel, we had a Shabbos in Eretz Yisroel that we’re zocher to make yearly. You said you were on one of them.



Yaakov Langer:

Yes, I saw one of them.



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

So we had the Shabbos yearly and my son was coming on the Shabbos. Hundreds of people on this Shabbos. And an intelligent person asked my son, he said, I don’t understand the Shabbos. He said, here you have guys that know shas, talmidei chachomim, serious, Boruch Hashem. we have many, many talmidei chachomim, Kollel yungerleit, serious people coming from the yeshivos. You have on this Shabbos people that are, and they have guys struggling with all different areas of Yiddishkeit, like what does it mean, what pulls it all together? What’s does the Shabbos mean? How can it be good for you, the ben Torah, the masmid, and the kid struggling and you’re together, you’re sitting next to each other at the same Shabbos table and excited by it. That’s what somebody asked my son. And my son who gets it, Boruch Hashem, we come from a place, we’re not, we try, we try hard not to be external people. And to celebrate emes, authenticity. At that place we all have a lot of parts and we all have parts that are shows. Nothing wrong with that. We’re trying chitzonius meoras hapnimiyus, the outward pushes the inward. But we have a lot of, you know, fluff and things we’re trying to be but not there. There’s a place of sincerity where that’s where you are. That’s who you are. That’s your rachmono libo bo. At that place of authenticity a guy described to me, who’s struggling with Yiddishkeit, who’s had a very difficult journey. And he described to me, he wants to do more but he said, Rebbe, I want you to know, and he described his Modeh Ani, in the morning. I promise, Yaakov, this is, we’re talking about authenticity for a week. In my mind I was like intimidated by his Modeh Ani, just thinking about it, I was inspired. He said, I thank G-d in the morning and I really mean it. And I say Modeh Ani and he wants to add to his frumkeit but at the place of sincerity we’re not so different. And you can have a Shabbos together of range because we’re celebrating authenticity. And that place when a Yid is honest and prays. I’ll watch a bochur walk to the Beis Medrash and I want him to come shacharis on time, be’ezrat Hashem he’ll come to that. But he comes 6 o’clock in the afternoon, a summer afternoon to put on his tefillin and to say Shema and to watch that is wild. You’re seeing a moment where a yid with no agenda, yes an agenda to serve to Hashem, put on his phylacteries and say Shema Yisroel. So I think to celebrate a wider range, to notice different talents and abilities and bring them out in an authentic way, is a very, it’s a whole other genre of a yeshiva. All of a sudden a guy, I’ll give you, you asked for examples.



Yaakov Langer:

We’ll be right back to my conversation with Rabbi Kalish. Actually, my favorite part is coming up. But first let me tell you about our friends at Yidflicks. Yes, you may have heard of them, maybe you didn’t hear of them. Yidflicks is the leading, leading content provider for children’s content for the frum Jewish orthodox family. And more than that they actually have a lot of great content, you may find some Living Lchaim stuff there, that’s for older people as well. So, you’re probably watching or listening to this on YouTube or Spotify or Apple Podcasts and that makes sense. But a lot of times you don’t want your 10-year old going on YouTube because who knows what’s going to be next. Who knows what’s going to happen. Or you don’t want them going on some foreign site. With Yidflicks you can know and trust that the content there is the Torah, is the content for a ben Torah. It’s great, it’s fun, they always add in new stops, you never get bored. And for 9.99 a month or 899 a year you get full access. I definitely highly recommend you try it out personally. We use it in our house, yes, that’s true. And it’s a great source. I know to put it on my son’s actually going to learn something. Get some, I don’t know, learn about the megillah, Megillas Esther. Or you could go there and you’ll see all that incredible content they have. And check it out. The link is in the description. So, go, go, go, try it out and now back to the episode with Rabbi Kalish.



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

There’re kids that are very acrobatic. We have a number of guys parkour they can do backflips so it sounds like, okay, you could flip. How many people could you make happy with that? Any siyum in yeshiva they’re doing their flips. By the way, randomly at a, some event to the yeshiva, a guy will come forward and flip, I’ll even tell you how to musar schmooze, I’ll see a day in the middle of the winter and the whole place is like, is very tired and drained. I’ll call up a guy, this is not a common occurrence, but I’ve done it already, call up a guy, let him do a flip and he wakes up the chevra and cheers up the chevra and it ignites. Talents matter, talents can be tapped into. So I think that’s a second type of yeshiva.



Yaakov Langer:

Yeah, I’m holding, I’m holding



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

So the second type is a wider range of talents are celebrated even within chochma. I have seen people who are not known to be smart because it was, I think people are brilliant. I think everybody, a brain is a wild place that every human being has. If we learn to tap into creativity. There’s memory, there’s different types of intelligence. If we lean in harder and more we’ll see there’s tremendous talents by people. So that’s the second genre of yeshiva. I do consider us part of that as well. So that’s second. The third thing is what I want to get to and that’s really like the heart and soul of the yeshiva along with that second genre of yeshiva that celebrates more. The third thing is the honest conversation. And I think schools who you are doesn’t seem to matter so much because there’s a subjects and things we want to teach. But I think Torah learning has two parts. There’s the Torah and there’s you and making a shidduch of both is Torah learning. You can know Torah. If you don’t know yourself you won’t have da’as. Because da’as is, you’ll have chochma, you could even have bina, but da’as is the marrying of Torah to yourself. You have to know you and know Torah. It matters who you are. It matters what you’re feeling, what you’re thinking, what’s going on inside of you and the honest conversations that’s like huge. There has to with every single kid a running dialogue.



Yaakov Langer:

Meaning, you’re saying the yeshiva and the bochur or the bochur and himself?







Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

So, it’s I think the yeshiva’s responsibility is to have with the bochur. I think that promotes self dialogue and often by a bochur having the conversation brings out his own thoughts and you help him develop them and get in touch with them. We all have a world inside.



Yaakov Langer:

Would you say that’s the, I guess, your trick because, I don’t know, it’s like I always think about, like, let’s say this guy’s really angry with life or upset or just not motivated and you hear about them, they go to Waterbury and something shifts and I’m like, I’m always like what is going on over here. What changed? Is it that authentic, I guess, ability to get to know them or help them get to know themself, and yeah, then they could say, okay who am I, what am I doing, what do I want to do?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

The honest conversation is huge. Well, you and I have a world inside and the honest conversation is huge. There’s a sense and I want to say that I’m a student of the guys, it’s changed my life. I want to express what I’ve learned.



Yaakov Langer:

Yeah









Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

I want to express what I’ve learned. I think this is life changing. I’m in middle of learning it. I’m not great at it. We come from a world of soldier through, of do it, come on, like, what’s with you, just do it, I know you’re worried but just do it.



Yaakov Langer:

Why is that? Is that because like we’re from a generation that like it’s after the Holocaust or was it always like that?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

I don’t know the answer. It’s funny there’re people that are historians and have, you know, studied societies. We have a lot of chachomim who write about these things. I don’t know. I don’t like make a study of it. I don’t know and I don’t know how long it was that way but definitely our mentality, my own mentality. Personally growing up my own mentality is just do it.



Yaakov Langer:

Right, right



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

And that’s what I did. That’s what I did in my own personal life. Just do it. You know the Nike Just Do It, so that just do it. And I have this, this feeling, just do it. Just come on, learn and it will take care of itself. That’s what I got from many of my Rabbeim wonderfully and Boruch Hashem. There’s a value, tremendous value. We all of a sudden have a generation that’s calling out and I’m not convinced when you’re seeing your son do it that, I’m not convinced that’s your son. I’m actually convinced that’s a piece of you. The tzaddik says your children are your deepest thoughts. That’s not somebody else doing something and let me get in touch with that struggle, cos I actually think that’s you. There’s a line from Winston Churchill, he saw a lame person, he said, but for the grace of G-d there goes I. And I want to say on the kids struggling, take out that line and just say, there goes I. That’s you. That’s us. The generation today is calling out. I would call it emotional nuance and they’re demanding by their calls and what they’re saying is, we have a world inside, we’re struggling. You might have been able just to soldier through but you might have left out a part of yourself. In the service of Hashem, I’ll give an example, Yaakov. Reb Yisroel Salanter said when he walks into a room and people stand up he feels sick. Which make sense. Koved’s very dangerous. Very. Koved’s really dangerous because we’re talking about a world of real and the world of honor can make pretend people. You speak everybody says, yay, right, ooh. There’s a world of authentic and koved’s very dangerous. Getting honor, getting respected is a serious danger in the world of real. And so Reb Yisroel expressed that an honest person. But Reb Yisroel said that he saw somebody not standing up and he was sick for the day. And there’s something so cool that Reb Yisroel was in touch with every part of himself. I get a letter that says Mr Daniel Kalish, I’m insulted. I want to not be insulted, I want to not care.



Yaakov Langer:

That’s very honest of you to say that.





Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

That’s the truth. It’s the truth.



Yaakov Langer:

Wow



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

I’m not, I can admit much worse things. There’s a person inside. Things, a kid sitting in a shiur and says I am bored that’s important. That’s a part of him that’s not there, I’m not excited by this. That’s important. That’s a part of you. There’re things inside that we’re taught almost to neglect that I don’t believe we should. They’re voices, they’re feelings that we could actually bring to the service of Hashem if we pay attention, if we learn what it’s saying, if we bring that to the service of Hashem also. I’ll give an example, Yaakov. There’s like somewhat extreme. I’m going to talk in a world of addiction which is more rampant today probably than it’s been in the past perhaps. And in the world of addition people shrug their heroes to me. The people that are fighting and battling. And when people struggle like that they are forced to be honest with different parts of themselves, where they can’t survive if they’re not honest. To different emotional holes inside of themselves. Different feelings of loneliness they had in youth. And they have no choice but to address all the different parts of themselves what they call triggers. All the different holes inside. And that’s on one example that community that amazing community that teaches all of us to really deal with all parts of ourselves and to me today what kids are calling out and what I think parents and mechanchim not just klapping the kids but klap theirselves, they’re calling out emotional nuance. They’re saying things and they want us to hear it. I could say on myself that guys have called me out on this. That you’re listening but you’re not hearing. And you don’t get it, you don’t get it. And they want you, and I, when a bochur comes and cries and talks I want to cheer him up. I want to give him a hug and that’s nice. But it’s much more important is to hear what he’s saying and to sit with him where he is. He’s crying out with something. Feel what he’s feeling. When you do that there’s tremendous healing in that.



Yaakov Langer:

But there’s, I mean, maybe someone with their own kids they hear it, but how do you do that with so many people? Isn’t that emotionally so burdening to be there with someone with all the pain they’re going through?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

I want to say, Yaakov, what I find the hard part is not because it’s so many people or because, it’s hard because I’m not used, because I ignore my own emotional stuff.



Yaakov Langer:

So, you saying how could I be there for someone else if I’m not there for myself.



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

We do that ourselves. We ignore that own part of, but I’m soldiering through. I’m powering through.







Yaakov Langer:

It’s interesting because I’m thinking of, let’s say, a parent of the old mehalech of just do it, trying to deal with their kid who’s like, I need you emotionally if the parent can’t even mostly be there for themself what do they do?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

You are so spot on.



Yaakov Langer:

I’m just mimicking what you’re saying



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

I’m hearing this is the revolution, Yaakov, this is it. Because I don’t think it’s, all of a sudden if I’m right, I don’t believe that today’s youth are a kid’s problem. I think it’s a piece of us that’s talking and Hashem is bringing us, and I think we’re being misakek and the dor has wonderful tzaddikim. There’s yeridas hadoras, they were bigger than us. I think there’s a tikkun today. I think we’ve left out a part of ourselves. In soldiering through we’ve left pieces and voices and parts and the tikkun of today’s generation is don’t ignore parts of yourself. And there’re ways of acknowledging. If that part of yourself that is very upset to get Mr Daniel Kalish there are ways of talking to that. I like when it happens to me. When I get that letter cos I talk to myself that what’s valuable in life, it’s actually my Rebbe those thoughts. Somebody has jealousy is a lucky man because you could talk to yourself about values of life. When we ignore it and soldier through we are ignoring big parts of ourselves. We’re not bringing our entire shleimus to avodas Hashem and we’re missing out and we all of a sudden. What you said is precisely true. That you want to listen to, and our children are calling out and frustrated, they’re saying something. Would you say, come on, knock it off, just get it back together. I know, and we almost feel like that’s the right thing to do, I don’t believe so. It’s not working.



Yaakov Langer:

So what do you do if, I like the idea you said if someone’s jealous like they feel something, there’s emotion there. But, you know, I’ve been in yeshiva and we all know people that just seem so unmotivated. Like, you know, I think it used to be maybe like it’s okay if a guy’s going off the derech and drugs and girls and whatever or girls doing it and vice versa. But a lot of today, you see people that like go do something bad and like no, they don’t want to do anything. Like what is that?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

That apathy, when we ignore enough ourselves and what’s happening inside, ultimately you have apathy. Kids have described to me, I don’t feel anything. A loved one gets lost. People have described to me a grandfather passing on and feeling nothing. Why is that, that’s crazy. People have described to me tragedy being numb. And you could say over-exposure, you could give a lot of reasons. I think we’re ignoring the person within. I find when you acknowledge the person within, the most apathetic kid who’s sitting in a classroom and was like uh, and isn’t this geschmak and somebody at the front of the class is jumping around and he’s just sitting there, I’m bored. When you engage him, who are you, what are you worried about, and you teach him and bring out, it matters what I’m thinking? Yeah, yeah. It matters how I perceive things? Yeah. You all of a sudden produce people that are feeling. The Novi describes that Hashem at the time of Moshiach will take our lev even and turn it into a lev basar, will take a stone heart and turn it into a feeling heart. I think yeshivos have to produce a lev basar, I think there’re methods. The method is what I’m talking. I want all my kids to have a lev basar, they feel, they experience, they connect to chochmas hatorah, to service of Hashem to prayer that it’s like it’s meaningful, it resonates. The world inside of you matters that has to be the message. I think what you said before we can’t just do this to our kids. I’m telling you myself that I’m changing my life slowly because I ignore the motions and thoughts inside of me and details of myself. It’s not just about emotion and chochma. I ignored chochma in my mind. I ignored many parts of myself in just pushing through and soldiering through, I ignored parts of myself. I discovered, Yaakov, when a kid is sitting there, a guy is sitting there, describing emotional nuance and I just want to cheer him up, give him a hug and let’s let him be. That no, he’s saying something. And sit with him there. And the only way you could do that is actually you sit with your own sugyas, that you’re shaiach to this sugya. And I think there’s tremendous tikkun here. We’ll get parts of all our collective selves and bring it to the service of Hashem. We won’t leave out parts of ourselves. That’s what I’m seeing. For years, the Gemorah says, Mitalmidei yose mikulam. And I like truth.



Yaakov Langer:

Maybe translate it for those



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

From my students, it says, harbe lematei marbosei, gemorah Makkos, I lot I learned from my rabbeim, ma’chaverei yose, from my friends even more, mitalmeidei, I learned the most from my students. Now for years I’ve heard rabbeim get up at a siyim say, mitalmidai, of course you don’t believe that. Knock it off. Mitalmidei, my Rebbes taught me everything. My father, my Rebbe, life-changing. What do you really mean? Come on, you mean that? I’m sure he asked a nice kasha once with mi’talmidei yose mikulam. But in watching the process of youngsters and specifically this nekuda of a younger generation that’s saying emotional nuances and not accepting, no matter what anybody’s shitas are, it’s not working just to say power through. Like you said the apathy, and then the kid is not responding and certainly there are people struggling with addictions who have no choice and teach us all to figure out the details of my inside. I think we’re being led somewhere. Mitalmidei yose mikulam applies to every parent in the world today, every mechanech in the world. And there’s a generation dthat’s not kids today, it’s you and I, it’s a piece of you and I. It’s not kids today, it’s you and I. Maybe I left something out and maybe I can figure that out and heal that, and work with that and bring that to the service of Hashem. That’s what I’m seeing a lot of today. I think we’re pointed in that direction. So this was a long answer of the third part of the yeshiva the conversation. But lean in, lean in to what the conversation is not just what we want to teach. Lean in to what the youngster is saying, to what the others saying, to the emotional point the others making, lean in strongly to that.



Yaakov Langer:

So let’s say there are parents listening to this and they’re hearing in, they’re like okay, like you know what, I never really thought of it in that way and they want to go in and do this and they want to be there and they want to listen, what other practical tips would you have for them? Or is that it? Or that’s the whole sugya?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

So first of all I would say do it in your own life. If you don’t do it for yourself you won’t be able to lean in to them.



Yaakov Langer:

Okay so let’s go over there. How does one do it in their own life?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

Not to be afraid of the feelings, I gave that example the Mr Daniel Kalish, there are thousands of such examples. Not to be afraid of the different parts of ourselves and to learn to acknowledge them and talk back to them. Kina, you’re jealous, But I’ll get uh uh, we can all push away from it. You’re upset at somebody, to learn to go on a walk with that thought. You’re upsetting your spouse, you can Uh uh uh, it’s saying something. Don’t just ignore it. Don’t, work with yourself. There’s two dinim, there’s people have an issue a husband and wife so they could just wait till that struggle goes away. And you know eventually things leave. But there’s something you didn’t process. You were hurt by something. Now it doesn’t mean you have to have the conversation with your spouse by the way but with yourself. Go on a walk and talk to what



Yaakov Langer:

Let’s say, let’s play it out, let’s say someone’s like really upset and they’re not happy they’re upset but they say, okay, you know what, why am I upset and they like go through it and they say, okay, I realize why I’m upset and maybe I want to kill that guy or whatever it is. Like they’re really, but they know it’s not the right thought but that’s how they’re feeling. You’re saying that’s step one?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

That’s excellent. Step one is acknowledge what you’re feeling. When you said that word was very important you said they know it’s not the right thought. It’s your thought. G-d gave you this. That I’m upset with Mr Daniel Kalish is the right thought because it’s the thought G-d gave me. Acknowledge it. Acknowledge it. It’s not bad. You’ll get places. You know how many madregas you can get from that thought. You could talk to yourself. The step one is acknowledge what you’re feeling. Validate to feel Hashem maybe that way. We’re funny. I want to tell you how many talmidei chachomim are insecure? And their insecurity stops them, prevents them from doing great things. They walk around feeling nobody respects them. They’re human. And you have a big talmid chochom, maybe the Rov of the Shul and he has insecure feelings, deep, that are there, that are dominating him, but he soldiers through. But it limits him. It affects him tremendously and he’s damaged by his insecurities. He’s affected in his behaviour by his insecurities. That man would be tremendous gains for his whole sabre, for his family, for klal Yisroel, he’s a wonderful tzaddik. He ignores that he is insecure and he lives a life, he’s left with a huge levayin, insecure man. You know how much was left on the table of what he could’ve been and done if he would have acknowledged his insecurity? We have a generation today that’s calling out in pain and forcing us to acknowledge emotional parts. People are very scared that if they acknowledge we’re going to produce like weak people.





Yaakov Langer:

Yeah, that’s the thing you always hear. I always hear that.



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

I don’t think it’s connected necessarily. Nobody’s saying, you know, a kid has a feelings so therefore it doesn’t make people fall apart. There’s an honesty we’re being led to that we are human. We’re very human, frail humans. Reb Yisroel said that he was hurt when somebody didn’t stand up. Reb Yisroel. And I’m sure late in his life he wasn’t hurt but Reb Yisroel. We’re human. Hashem made us that. When we can get places. The insecure person could have real, he does not have to stay insecure. And as an insecure person you know how much damage he does to family members? And you know he can go on walks with himself and call out insecurities and acknowledge. Not beat himself up. Mamash not. Hug yourself. I have an insecurity. He can acknowledge it. He can validate it and then and only then talk back frum to it. If you talk back frum before you acknowledge and validate then you hurt things. If you got frum too fast it won’t go into your elbow, your fingers, your whole body. By acknowledging what you’re feeling, your insecurities, don’t feel nobody respects me, that’s a feeling, that’s what you’re feeling. That’s a truth. It’s not just meant to ignore just.



Yaakov Langer:

I don’t know if this is a good example but I’m literally thinking back to my childhood and I’m thinking, I’m thinking of Mr Rogers. I don’t know if everybody’s familiar but like he and one of his songs is like if you have a feeling, that was one of his, I don’t know if he, he’s not a Jewish mechanech, but one of his things was like if you have a feeling like identify that you, I don’t even say it so sophisticated, it was like, identify you have a feeling and that’s okay. Like that’s your feeling but know that you have a feeling. And he tried to teach like, if you get angry, what is that, like why are you angry? I don’t know, I’m just thinking of Mr Rogers.



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

There’s chochma by goyim. There’s no question chochma goyim tamin. I think this is an elementary, what we call da’as, our first request in shmonei esrei, chonen hada’as, blessed are you Hashem our shevach vehashem that is chonen hada’as. We ask chanenu lechadeya, we ask for deya from Hashem. And da’as is when your knowledge becomes real with you. When you marry it. You miskasher. You mamash connect to it. You can’t do that if you’re not aware and if you ignore big parts of yourself. You can’t do it. So this is now to me an elementary of yiddiskheit. I’m sorry



Yaakov Langer:

So what if I want to work on that for myself, would it make sense that I will have an easier time at succeeding for myself if I’m surrounded by the people also who are emotionally tapped into themselves?



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

There’s no question it helps. I find



Yaakov Langer:

Or, like no, because it’s my avoda and that’s their avoda



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

I only came to this from being involved with guys, from being involved with, Boruch Hashem I think over the last many years I’ve spoken to more teens than most people. And they brough me this place. They brought me here. They’re saying something. And I know anybody could just say, ah today’s generation, okay, okay. But the only problem is they’re a piece of us. It’s us. It’s not them. It’s us, it’s us. That kid struggling is you, is me. And talking to guys this is where they’re brining me. It’s funny, Yaakov, that it’s hard for me to tell somebody else where to be brought. I’ll tell you a funny thing that happened to me. For years I’m bothered by a kasha on the megillah. Mordechai says to Esther, Mi yodeam le’eis kazos higata lemalchus. Who knows, maybe this is why you’re in the king’s palace. Who knows maybe you’re the queen to help the yidden? Now teenagers today, you ever heard this line, Yaakov, if you say something obvious you know how a teen responds they say, you think? Whenever I saw this possuk, Mi yodea, I’m thinking to myself, My yodea, of course this is why, like mi yodea? Do you ever doubt why Esther was in the king’s palace? No, we know, So what’s mi yodea? Who knows? Why do you say it that way? So I had a pshat I don’t want to share right now. There’s a singer Mailich Cohen, I’m not zocher to know him. I don’t know so much of his music. But somebody played me a song of his that I listened to over an hour on Purim too. And it left, like, I kept listening over and over. And he said a pshat in mi yodeya that I like a lot. And he says, he has a song, that he says in Yiddish, Hebrew and English where he describes that who knows all the troubles we’re going through maybe that’s why you’re alive. Whatever you’re going through. And he says, mi yodea, who knows im le’eis kazos that that’s why whatever you’re going through maybe that’s why you’re here. That’s how he understands these words. Now he says in Hebrew, Yiddish and English that on your trouble who knows maybe that’s why he said on my troubles I know, ani batuach, bevadai, chazecher, he says in Yiddish, Hebrew and English, that on my troubles I know I’m here for them. On yours I have no right to say why you’re here. So that’s what he learns the mi yodea. He said a beautiful pshat mi yodea, Esther I can’t tell you why you’re there, that you have to figure out. I want you to know on my troubles I know that the reason why I’m here is to solve them. So I want to say, Yaakov, I can’t tell people what to think from today’s dor, but I can share. On you I could say on everybody else. I want to tell you for sure what it’s taught me. For sure what it’s taught me is to pay attention to more details of myself. And there’s a word by goyim but it doesn’t need chochmas hagoyim, this is our Torah, this is da’as and all across the Torah. Being attuned to the chodes ha’avovis, to the inner side of ourselves. Korach was destroyed. The whole Torah for Korach was destroyed for kina. Korach should have been the Rebbe of klal Yisroel. His kina was wonderful. You know, the problem wasn’t Korach’s kina, his kina was given by G-d. Could we blame Korach that he was jealous?



Yaakov Langer:

I guess not, that’s how he felt.



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

I don’t know if he could’ve chosen any, you know what we blame him for? For making a revolution and not calling out that it came from jealousy. Korach’s jealousy should have been his Rebbe. The best Rebbe in your life, I have a Rebbe, Reb Jealousy, Reb Insecurity’s a rebbe because you talk back to it.





Yaakov Langer:

Right



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

Because you have a conversation. You see Rebbe. You acknowledge. You don’t beat yourself up. If you acknowledge in a way of cynicism it’s bad. Acknowledge and validate it. Now that I’m jealous Hashem made me this way. Then go on a long walk. Talk to yourself. That what’s ein adom nogeya mashmucha mechaver kmo lenima, Hashem has every different person. What you have doesn’t take away from me. What I have doesn’t take away from you. Talk. Talk. Conversation. Bring yourself. More than soldiering through this brings your entirety to avodas Hashem. You become beshaleim, you become whole. All the parts of yourself. Today’s generation are making us whole, they’re not crazy. They’re just pointing to us to emotional nuance and won’t be silenced until we acknowledge it.



Yaakov Langer:

Wow. For me when you said it I’m like this is very big and I’ve heard it but maybe not in this way that we’re here for the challenges we’re going for. Cos, the natural human instinct is like, I’m going through life and like I’m having this hardship and like, now things think everything thinks because it shouldn’t be going that way but to think of it like no, no, no, this is why I’m put on this earth to deal with this, to get past this, to handle it, to work with it, it kind of redefines the challenge I guess.







Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

Yeah. I like, the words I like telling myself, Hashem’s working with me. He’s working with me. He’s working me out. I watch bochurim work out and have different exercise, they want to exercise this muscle, the leg muscles, the stomach muscles, the shoulders, they have different exercises. Hashem’s working with us. So our challenges that we face, He’s working with us. And I think specifically to this point when one has a difficult child, a complicated, Hashem’s working with you, He’s sending you somewhere. I can’t tell you where He’s taking you, mi yodea, who knows? You have to figure it out. But I could tell you where I’ve been brought. And I want to say in talking to the teen of today there’s a place of honesty that it’s like brought out. They’re demanding honesty. I don’t want to say just emotions and parts honestly. But there’s a part of ourselves. Acknowledge it. Work it through. Bring it places. We do it for ourselves, we’ll be able to lean into the things they’re saying. And hear and understand the nuances. Kids are calling out. They’re saying something. And we could respond. Just push through. I hear, I hear. But I’m not sure we’re going to get every part of ourselves to. Of course there’s effort and of course there’s pushing also. But I think we have to bring all the parts of ourselves. A lot’s trapped in Mitzrayim, we want to bring it all out. Let’s get it all out, every part out. That’s what I’m saying.



Yaakov Langer:

Rabbi Daniel Kalish thank you very much for having .. I’m going to re-listen to this conversation. I really will. There’s a lot of really incredible nekudos and different ways of thinking that, yeah. I want to listen to your shiur from now, that’s really what I got out of this.



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

I appreciate you coming. I appreciate a lot what you’re doing. Your conversations going around klal Yisroel, having the conversations there’s all parts of klal Yisroel have things to offer. I’m standing here, you’re interviewing a lot of teens right now, a lot of very holy teens. I hope I did it some nuance of what they’re trying to say, of what they’re saying to me, at least what I’m hearing them say. I just want to wish you hatzlocha, continue the discussion. I’m talking about conversations and that’s like a part of yeshivos that I want to see broaden to all yeshivos. I want to see more conversation. I think a Rebbe, maybe the main part of his job is by the break, who is he talking to now, find time at night. I’ll tell you something funny, Yaakov, that in yeshiva I said to the rabbeim, let’s make a kolel. During lunch let’s all learn together. I asked my staff could we learn together and make a kolel. And the Rebbe said during lunch we have to talk to the guys. You can’t take away that time. So I’m trying to figure out what to do about that, like wow. You are right the guys’ talking time. So what you’re doing, Yaakov, going around promoting conversation and hearing and listening, you could do this to every yid in klal Yisroel.



Yaakov Langer:

I really fully believe that. I really do. And I want to get to all of them, you know, starting with some but I want to get to everyone. Because like I guess that was the second point, like everyone has something to add. Like it’s not, someone said they’re like, if you’re here Hashem needs you for a reason and you have a purpose so okay, great, let’s figure that out and what do you have to add and





Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

You’re spot on, you’re spot on. Keep doing your thing. I appreciate you came all the say to Connecticut.



Yaakov Langer:

I would’ve gone to Australia to talk to you.



Rabbi Daniel Kalish:

I appreciate that you came here and maybe if we got a nekuda here you can get a nekuda everywhere. Continue, pick up all the nekudos in klal Yisroel. Let’s spread the conversation. Continued hatzlocha.



Yaakov Langer:

Amen



There you have it. I still can’t believe that I actually got to speak to Rabbi Daniel Kalish. And there’s a lesson that I want to say, it actually didn’t come out in this episode. But, for me it means a lot. You know, I’ve interviewed a bunch of people now, over 80 people and the first person to tell me no, I don’t want to come on the podcast was Rabbi Daniel Kalish and that was two years ago. And obviously he said no in the kindest way possible and he didn’t really give a reason and I still to this day I don’t really know his reason. But it’s just wild for me, I always thought like, okay, I’ll never be able to get to schmooze with him and show the world our conversation. And I don’t know. I think the idea here is to really never give up. I guess I was persistent, not in an annoying way, and he was finally maskim and I think he’s happy we had this conversation. I’m definitely happy we had this conversation.



If you’re listening to this podcast, please you heard me say this before, rate us five stars, whether you’re on Spotify or Apple, if you’re watching this on Living Lchaim’s YouTube channel, subscribe, please share this with friends and family. It means the world to me. The best thing you could do for me is share this with your friends and family. Share it with your mother, your bubby, your zaidy, your neighbour who’s not Jewish. I don’t know, people, a lot of people can enjoy this, but yeah, please share it and yeah, the plan is that I’m going to be coming out with a new episode, audio, every motzei Shabbos and Tuesday a new video on the Living Lchaim channel. So, get ready, buckle up and lastly go check out Yidflicks in the show notes. Great, great content and try it for a month. Chances are you’re going to be there for the year. Enjoy and lchaim.


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