The Most Stressful Day of My Daughter’s Life (2-Minute Mommy Peptalk)

The Most Stressful Day of My Daughter’s Life (2-Minute Mommy Peptalk)

Rethinking failure and rejection.

At this moment, my daughter, Moriah (and I) along with thousands of other Israeli 8th graders (and their parents) are very anxiously waiting to hear if they have been accepted into the high schools of their choice.

These kids are under a tremendous amount of pressure today. For those kids who will be receiving rejection letters, chances are this is the first big rejection of their entire lives.

These kids are being rejected after submitting their grades along with their teachers’ evaluation as well as a personal interview. Which makes this rejection feel intensely personal, as though this high school (or, later in life, this seminary, yeshiva, college, potential spouse, or employer) believes they lack worth as a human being.

This morning, I read an incredible letter which a high school principal (as well as a fellow parent of a child waiting to be accepted or rejected today) sent to Sivan Rahav Meir. He presented a refreshingly positive approach to today’s rejection letters:

Rabbi Yuval Levinger wrote:
“I appeal to all the wonderful kids who will be receiving rejection letters today, and this is a message as well to young people who are facing failures of any kind: your entire life is ahead of you.

“This is not just a cliché. You will find the right place for yourself.

“Also, you should know, that this rejection, as painful as it is for you today, upgrades you. It transforms you into people who know how to believe in themselves even when others don’t always believe in them.

“You will join the illustrious ranks of Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, and Stef Wertheimer, the wealthiest person in Israel, as well as many others who succeeded in their fields even when others didn’t think they had a chance. Not to mention the great rabbis and Torah scholars who flourished, as well, following years of rejections and failures.

“One day, I promise you, you will thank the institution that did not accept you on this, your first true maturity test.

“In this test, you discovered, with G-d’s help, that your value does not only depend on what others think of you. And that knowledge alone is a gift that will bless you for your entire life.”


  1. Thank you, it really was stressful today, waiting for the letters from the high schools!
    I loved the message you posted.
    My daughter’s school does a lot of work with the girls preparing them for all eventualities – your own or your friend’s acceptance or rejection, how to differentiate between schools, how to know what kind of school is right for you, etc. I’m sure that tomorrow the teachers and the girls will have a lot to talk about!

  2. Since I live outside of Eretz Yisrael, and away from the big frum communities, I can’t imagine what the pressure must be like, but I would like to share the following story:There was a young family that would come here from Israel to visit their parents every Pesach. My husband became friendly with this fellow, and one year the Israeli told my husband that he had enrolled his eldest son, who had an aptitude for learning, in a prestigious school for ‘metzuyanim’.My husband was duly impressed and perhaps a bit disappointed that our children growing up in ‘chutz’didn’t have that opportunity. The next year when that family came for their yearly visit, my husband asked how their son was doing in the school for metzuyanim. “We took him out in the middle of the year” was the astonishing answer. “We found that they were so focused on accelerated learning, that they didn’t pay attention to character building. The students’ lack of middos was appalling!”
    Not everything that sounds good really is good!

  3. Bs´d
    beautiful thank you, its basically the message of never stop believing in yourself. no matter if other people dont you should.[believe in yourself].

  4. It is beautiful to see that they could turn down a student without giving him a message that he is worthless. rejection letters are so hard. I hope your daughter got the answer she was hoping for. and if not the courage to deal with the situation..

  5. רחל פבלוב

    I was told all my life I was a failure. From all the high schools I applied to I was not accepted to one. My parents told me I would never get anywhere in life.

    I eventually made aliyah which changed many things but also the constant being told you are worth nothing I only had myself to prove otherwise.

    I studied nursing in a foreign language! I have a nursing degree. I work in a clinic. I am the deputy of the clinic, I teach other nursing students, I am the wound and stoma nurse, I am also head of the RSV vaccination this season.
    Sometimes you just know otherwise and you have to push those negative voices away and to believe you are more……a lot more!

  6. savta ima

    This stuff is super hard on the kids and their families. This has been an ongoing hot topic for a few issues already in Mishpacha Magazine as well, being discussed from numerous perspectives. Truth and flaws in all of them, and yet this is a system that has to be faced and navigated. I like the comment from Debi about the school which prepares the girls ahead of time for all possibilities.
    I want to add a message I internalized recently from a very unlikely source. I caught a few minutes of a video of Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings (a character I would never ever have predicted I could quote in a good light), chastising an apparently contrite Michael Cohen for ruining his life because of his corrupt choices and deception. Cummings expressed a lot of compassion for how these consequences would affect Cohen’s family and so on, for untold years ahead. In the mix he told Cohen something he had learned as a youth. I forget if it was a parent or a church leader who told him the following, but as he said it: “Do not ask, Why did this happen TO me. Ask, Why did this happen FOR me.” Then he said in so many words (not verbatim:) Keep that thought in mind as you watch the next years unfold and you will gain from the hard experiences, although right now you have no idea what good they can do for you.
    Amazing point for long-term reflection for anyone going through a challenge or a nissayon. We would certainly amend his quote to read, Do not ask why HASHEM did this TO me, but why Hashem did this FOR me.” Kids can “get” this message very well, and keep their heads held high as they ponder!

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