More than one and a half million primary grade and kindergarten children in Israel left school on June 30th for summer vacation following a challenging year. Speaking of coping with challenges, hundreds of thousands of teachers and parents are worthy of special recognition this year.
Rabbi Yaakov Edelstein, who was the rabbi of Ramat HaSharon, once wrote a letter about vacation to the children of the local Rambam school and emphasized an important point:
"Only the school year is coming to an end but learning itself does not stop. Because learning is not just acquiring knowledge. Learning is mainly about educating ourselves to be better. Reaching another spiritual level, adding another positive character trait. This sort of education never ends. Even when all the school grades are finished, there will still be a need to self-educate, to strive for personal refinement.
"You are faced with different challenges than the ones we faced, but a person is created in order to overcome challenges. Every era has its challenges, every generation has its unique tests that demand struggle before you can prevail.
"If during the months of study the main 'battle' is around listening during class (or Zoom), obeying school rules, tardiness, homework and so on, then during vacation the 'front' moves more into the arena of the family and the street -- helping parents, honoring siblings, and exercising caution when it comes to the temptations of the street.
"Just as in the war against illnesses and disease, priority is given to preventive medicine, so too in our spiritual war. Success will shine upon us if we provide our souls up front with effective immunization, if we will live a life full of content and develop good character traits.
"Therefore we say to you today: the school year has ended -- the season of self-education begins. Wishing much success to all."
* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin