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As we approach the summer, this letter from the Lubavitcher Rebbe to Jewish children “everywhere” is especially timely:

 

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By the Grace of G-d
Sivan, 5712 [May 1952]
Brooklyn, N.Y.

 

To Jewish Students and School Children, Everywhere,

G-d Bless You All!

Greeting and Blessing:

Vacation time is approaching, to release youth and children, boys and girls, from Yeshivoth, Talmud Torahs, Day Schools, etc., for a long summer recess.

The importance of a restful vacation is obvious. However, certain aspects of vacation time should be examined carefully. Is vacation time a stoppage of study, or is it a transition from one form of activity to another?

In all living forms, there is no such thing as a stoppage of life, followed by a completely new start, for a stoppage of life is death, and cannot serve as a temporary rest period. There can be a transition from one form of activity to another, but not a cessation or stoppage.

For example: The two most vital organs in our body are the heart and the brain. The heart is the principal seat of “physical” life; the brain is the principal set of “intellectual” life. Because the heart and the brain have supreme control of the body, they are called “the Sovereigns of the Body.” Now, these organs not only do not cease to operate in a living body, but they do not even undergo a radical change in their form of activity. And inasmuch as the actions of the other organs are being led by the activity of the heart and brain, it follows that the other organs of the body, though they may seem to be in a state of inactivity, as in the case of sleep, do not in reality stop working.

This is even more obvious in the case of breathing. We find that during sleep breathing is slowed down considerably, but it never stops, for the “breath of life” must always be there.

Similarly in the case of students, boys and girls, studying our Torah, Torath-Chayim – “The Law of Life,” restful vacation does not mean interruption and stoppage of Torah and Mitzvoth, G‑d forbid. It means only just another way of furthering their course of study, a period during which they renew their mental abilities and increase their capacities for a more intensive study later on.

Therefore, my friends, bring light and holiness into your vacation time, by remembering always that it is the time of preparation in order to improve the quality and quantity of your studies during study-time to follow. But let it not remain so only in your thoughts and intentions; be always united with our holy Torah in your everyday actions and conduct. Let not a single day pass without the “breath of life” provided by the “Torah of Life.” Let everyone have appointed times for the study of Chumash, Mishnah, Gemoro, and so on, each one according to his or her standard of Torah education.

At this time, I wish everyone who is resolved to use his or her vacation in this productive “living” way – much success, both during vacation, as well as on returning to normal study later on.

With blessing,

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Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman is director of the Lubavitch Youth Organization. He can be reached at Lubavitchyouth@gmail.com.