The Daily Portion
The Chazon Ish - and young children's Torah study

Wise words from a great Torah luminary for his yahrzeit - and a message for the children now back in school whose learning is our bedrock.

Sivan Rahav-Meir ,

The Chazon Ish
The Chazon Ish
Yoni Kempinski

How do we change our personality and our character traits? Yesterday marked the 67th anniversary of the passing of Rav Avraham Yeshayahu Karlitz, better known as the Chazon Ish. This great sage explained how we make these changes as follows:

"We tend to list the character traits that we need to change: anger, pride, lust, envy, vengefulness and others. We have become used to thinking that these are separate traits. But at the root of our personalities we have only one good trait and one bad one. The single bad trait is neglect, the decision to make peace with our nature and neglect any real effort to change. In this way, a person remains outstandingly hot-tempered, exceptionally arrogant, and so forth.

"In contrast to this, the single good character trait is our continued attempt at self-improvement, the attempt to elevate morality over nature. The ultimate verdict on whether we can change is not connected to specific qualities but to making a decision. If we decide not to go with the flow but to grow, not just to live but to try harder, we will be engaged in a battle with all bad traits simultaneously, and begin to develop every positive trait in the process."

In his memory.


Hello first grade, once again*

It's happening. Today – carefully and according to all the guidelines – half a million children in first through fourth grades will return to school. The claim is sometimes made that the youngsters are returning to school in order that the adults can go back to work. This of course is not the main reason.

They are going back to school because this is vital for their development and because education is the bedrock of our existence. Our sages write that we do not interrupt children learning even for the building of the Holy Temple.

So after all the jokes that September 1st became November 1st – to the extent that the pupils don't even remember which class they're in – we should celebrate today, since an integral component of our strength is functioning once again. This is also an opportunity to thank teachers for their dedication during this crazy period, at the end of which they do not get vacation but return this morning to the classroom.

In the song "You Won't Defeat Me," Yehoram Gaon tells us what he sees from this window: "Children with their backpacks on the way to school." When society makes "children with their backpacks on the way to school" its top priority, nothing can defeat it.

Good luck to all returning students, with the hope that another million students with backpacks will join you soon.

• Translation by Yehoshua Siskin