Be Inclusive—Don’t Place a Stumbling Block
Be Inclusive- Don't Place a Stumbling Block

Proverbs 22:6 reminds us that each child learns differently, as we are to “educate each child according to their way.” Regardless of how a person learns or how different he or she may be from others, the value to be inclusive--lifnei aver challenges us to understand that we all are different. Our differences should be celebrated and our differences should not limit our ability to participate actively in the world.
Traditionally, the idea of lifnei aver--to be inclusive and “not place a stumbling block” comes from Leviticus 19:14, which states, “You shall not curse the deaf nor place a stumbling block before the blind. You shall fear your G-d. I am the Lord.” Much of Jewish teaching focuses on the figurative implications of not cursing the deaf or putting stumbling blocks before the blind. It is our responsibility to meet the needs of everyone, whether they be hearing or sight impaired, as well as those who struggle physically, emotionally, or intellectually.
Rather than looking at these struggles as handicaps, it is our imperative to ensure that that these individuals are fully part of the community. Tradition teaches a special blessing, which is to be said when one meets with someone or something that is unique and different from what is expected:

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha-olam, M’shaneh Ha-briyot.

Blessed are You, Adonai our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, who has created such variety in the world.

This is a reminder that G-d loves variety and wonder, and has instilled such in creation. Every student is unique, every student is a blessing. Far from being a burden or distraction, this is part and parcel of how G-d created the world, and we should give our thanks. We are reminded that it is not for the children to have to “fit” into the classroom, rather it is the responsibility of educators to ensure that the classroom and curriculum “fit” the needs of diverse learners.

Questions for Reflection:
1. How can you as a teacher create a more inclusive classroom?
2. What “stumbling blocks” do you place before yourself?
3. How can you help everyone feel part of a community?
4. How can you incorporate the notion of lifnei aver in your classroom?

Every person is different and some people have special needs--we should be thoughtful and try to make sure to include everyone.





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