Beit Midrash

  • Family and Society
  • The Education of Children and Students
To dedicate this lesson

Reducing and Utilizing the Summer Vacation

The summer vacation is too long and can cause idleness, boredom and bad things. It should be reduced to one month and until then we must build a good program to fill the vacation.


Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed

In my opinion, the summer vacation is too long. The length of the vacation should be reduced to only one month. It will be better for the kids, the parents, better for everyone.
Some Talmudey Torah (prime schools) and Yeshivot indeed have a shorter vacation for a month or even three weeks and it showed good results. Also in Bney Tzvi Yeshiva (yeshiva high school in Bet El) the vacation was shortened to a month. It seems that yeshiva high school must be the first to do this and show an example to all other institutions.
Since in the meantime the vacation is long, we should prepare correctly. It should be used for rest, refreshment and dissolution and not for idleness. Idleness leads to boredom and boredom leads to sin. Therefore we must try to fill the vacation days with a good program.
The Mishnah in Avot (2, 2) says:
"Rabban Gamaliel the son of Rabbi Judah the Prince said: Great is study of the Torah when combined with a worldly occupation, for toil in them both puts sin out of mind. All study of the Torah which is not supplemented by work is destined to prove futile and causes sin."
This Mishna teaches a deep wisdom.
Effort and exertion put sin out of mind. Spiritual and practical labor, both together keep a person from sins. It is not enough to put much effort in learning Torah only , or in work only (worldly occupation, Derech Eretz as the Sages called it), but both are needed. "For toil in them both puts sin out of mind".
This is because a person is combined from body and soul, physical powers and spiritual forces act alike. A man needs to be qualified in both. The Torah completes the soul. And worldly occupation, labor, livelihood, complete the body. When a person acts and tries to complete himself, he is far from sin, for sin is the opposite, the opposite disadvantage is perfect. The sin comes when the desire to integrity ceases.
Our sages say that wherever it says "Vayeshav" (sat, dwelt), it is a language of grief:
"And Israel dwelt in Shittim", - what follows? " and the people began to commit harlotry with the daughters of Moab".
"And Jacob dwelt" What happened to him? The sale of Joseph.
Another Midrash (Bereishit Rabba) explains more: "And Israel abode in Shittim" - sitting anywhere is a language of corruption. It says: "and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to make merry" which means worshiping idols.
Human beings have forces that push them to act and do, if these forces are not directed to building and rising, they push us down.
There is no middle, or up or down.
If there is no positive action, if there is idleness, it causes bad results of sin and iniquity. "Great is study of the Torah when combined with a worldly occupation, for toil in them both puts sin out of mind".
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