Monday, June 8, 2009

Cherem

Earlier this year, a boy in shiur aleph (14 years old) was put into cherem by most of his class. I told the boys not to sign the cherem, but some did.

This boy is a sweet kid, but not so cool, and not so popular. He was not getting along with his roommates, and something happened in the dorm, and he snitched on one or two boys, who were very popular.
So his class gave him the silent treatment, and showed him the paper some boys had signed, casting him into cherem.
He became withdrawn, and after he started getting teary at random times in the day, I asked around and found out about the episode.
On the one hand, it was kind of funny, but I knew that it could cause serious traumatic damage to a young kid a flight away from his family, with no friends, and lots of enemies. I made sure to be even more friendly to him, and smiled at him whenever I got the chance.l
That Friday night, after our seuda, I took him to a corner, and had a real heart-to-heart. Sometimes it was a little difficult to keep from smiling, since at times it felt silly. But I knew it was very serious for him, and chas v'shalom you hear stories about what happens to boys who think everyone hates them....
So I spoke to him for a long time, telling the usual. Don't care about what they say. He still has friends, and maybe he doesn't want those kids to be his friends, anyway. He deserves better. Boys that will respect him and like for who he is. I told him they were just being immature, and that he b'chlal is a lot more mature than his class, and probably they tease him out of jealousy....
I was trying to boost him up, and he was agreeing that he was taking it too much to heart.

It was quite a long conversation, and at the end, he had some tears in his eyes, and I just had something in my eye, okay? It was itching, that's all.
For the parting words, I put my hand on his shoulder, looked him in the eye, and said, "R., I just want you to know that you always have me as your friend."
"I know, Yossi. I know."

I like to think I helped pull him out of a dangerous downward spiral of depression.

In case you are wondering, now he's friends with lots more of his class, including his old roommate who had started the whole cherem after he had snitched on him...