Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
In the last few days, more and more pictures of educational institutions are being published and they all tell the same story: Back to school! We’re learning again!
In small study group capsules, with social distancing, with masks – but still learning. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of students: yeshivas, pre-military preparatory programs, colleges, Talmud Torah schools, primary schools, secondary schools, and kindergartens. Amidst great yearning, everyone is going back to school.
From conversations I’ve been having with those who are already learning again, newfound insights have been revealed.
First of all, there is a feeling that we must value every hour of study. To treasure each moment that it’s possible to sit together, without lockdown or quarantine. After all the disruptions of the previous school year, we understand that the routine of being in school cannot be taken for granted.
Second, within a world turned upside down that has changed beyond recognition, the Torah is an island of stability just as it has been through far more challenging times. During persecution and pogroms, we learned in secret. Our ancestors learned even when Roman soldiers were hunting for them. We need to keep a sense of proportion about our challenges and know that all of them are temporary, while learning is eternal.
And third, it’s not only stability but also strength and fortitude that we receive from learning. Diving into the depths of our books gives us a feeling of returning to the source, to clear, fresh water, to something sublimely ancient and greater that ourselves that continually refreshes and reinforces us, and reinvigorates our lives.
Blessings to students everywhere, in Israel and throughout the world, who within this chaos remain devoted to a verse from the book of Deuteronomy: “The Torah which Moshe commanded us is the heritage of the nation of Yaakov.” Best wishes for success in the coming school year.