Question: The Rambam says that the truth should be revealed gradually to those who are small. When working with children, we do not impose unification on them directly, but try to weave this message into games and studies. Can an overly direct message harm and repel a child?
Answer: As we develop we go through four levels: still, vegetative, animate, and human. As a rule, on the still level objects usually take on whatever form you give them if you have enough energy to do that. By exerting the right amount of energy, you can destroy the structure of a metal and rebuild it through heating, pressure, and other such influences.
On the vegetative level the situation is different: In order to give a plant a different form, you have to understand its nature. Say, a tree requires specific types of cultivation and care, and if you are an expert at what you do, then you will receive the necessary form by accompanying the tree in the process of its growth.
Stated differently, you have to grow to a level where you can take care of the tree, which involves bringing it inside of yourself and getting to know it. Then, based on this inner image, you can carry out work with the external form and receive a result.
In order to deal with the animate level of development, it is again necessary to learn its nature, to ascend above it, and include it inside of you. Then you can tame and train animals. Of course, it has to happen within specific boundaries, but you can train them to carry out certain forms of behavior which they are able to learn. And a children’s instructor works analogously.
These levels of development—still, vegetative, and animate—are small, “childish” states compared to an adult, and they end at the degree of “age 13.” From “age 13″ on, you are dealing with the human being in a person, and accordingly, you treat him completely differently. You accept him into your group, treat him as a friend, and raise him through examples of mutual partnership, offering him a place for work.
These are the phases of work with children’s groups.
From the 5th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 6/27/11, “Matan Torah (The Giving of the Torah)”