Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Talmud Torah and Summer Vacation

Nine years ago, my son was hospitalized for a few days. I recall that we were released on the afternoon or Erev Tisha BeAv. Why do I recall the particular date, you may wonder?

Well, in the next bed of the children's ward at Hadassa, was a Haredi boy, maybe aged 10 or 11. I remember that on the day we were leaving, his brother came to visit. His brother was not more than 14 years old. He arrived in a black jacket and hat. And what did the two of them do? Yes, they chatted for a bit, but very soon, they opened up a Gemara to learn! And of course on the afternoon before Tisha BeAv one is exempt from Torah learning, nonetheless, the brother brought a Massechet Gittin, and they were soon reading through the passages that describe the horrors of the Hurban.

Why do I recall this story? Because it made a deep impression then, and now it really makes me wonder about my community, and the way in which we raise our children during vacation.

My son is now eleven years old. He loves learning Torah. But, is that the first thing, the prime activity that he thinks of doing with his friends during vacation? On a day which is "pattur" from Limmud Torah? These Haredi kids saw Torah as the thing which fills their time, their lives. Two young boys, no parents. There was a TV right there! They could have turned it on. No! They preferred to learn Torah. This is the way to produce Talmidei Chachamim! And more than that, the summer vacation has just so much time. Even if our kids dedicated 2 hours a day to Limmud Torah, it would be fantastic. How can we do this in our communities? How do we set this as the benchmark?

How can we succeed to generate that sense of Torah at the center, that Torah should be our prime occupation?

I think I know!

The adults have to live that way!

Do we pick up a Gemara in our time off?

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