Monday, August 2, 2010

The added value of summer vacation

The book "Fear of Isaac" has renewed a foundation for us on the right attitude toward all Israeli holidays. The motto of the book, originally written in Yiddish, is translated into English (of course sounding better in Yiddish) as: "Be sure not to say the holiday was placed upon us. A more correct phrasing is: “We earned the holiday." Whoever says that the holiday was placed upon him, expresses, in fact, a temporary regard for the holiday.
The holiday was a good event at the time, maybe a break from routine or of moments of the pressures of life, and after the holiday passed and was forgotten, we return to our routine. This expression implies that the holiday was not marked for the future, and its effect did not last for the time that follows. Such regard must not suit the size of the event and meaning of "holiday" in the Hebrew calendar.
One of the purposes of each holiday is to leave a mark, as long as we reach a situation where we continue on our way, after the holiday, with a new charge added to our spiritual building. Indeed, the holiday has concluded, its days have passed, but it left its mark, and now we are equipped with a new addition related to the meaningful lessons of the holiday. Such should be the situation for every holiday.

And what about summer vacation?
Will we mark a check at the end of summer vacation and breathe a sigh of relief? “Another vacation passed. Everyone is healthy and well. We did it." In this case, although you can use the phrase "freedom passed over me" there is an alternative. Turns out that my children will benefit from new learning episodes and experiences that are unique to summer vacation. For example: the importance of planning a day’s events, even when there are no pressures or obligations, the value of keeping the same time frame, the enjoyment of flexibility and lack of commitment, the ability to enjoy doing nothing, the pleasure of learning for learning itself regardless of grades, the necessity or the teachers, the ability to decide on one’s own what to do today and many other unique benefits only to summer vacation, depending on the child and the home.
Summer vacation is not a holiday or commemoration. Its spiritual value is not obvious, but is a result of the investment that we invest in it, both in positive and negative sense. Judaism provides a place for various kinds of "freedom" when the meaning of freedom is not a waste of time but the change of framework. Even the sentence, "sleep on Shabbat is pleasure", is not interpreted literally but rather as "change" – learning experiences on Shabbat are different from those on the weekdays. The differences that take place on Shabbat are pleasurable: learning without the pressure of time, without disturbing daily occupations, and from a place of "great soul." This kind of change has the greatest value.

The choice to view summer vacation as a change of framework having positive value, however, will not necessarily prevent sentences such as: "Mom I'm bored" or the magical wish of all mothers, to shorten the summer vacation, but it is easier for me to deal with and allows me, as a mother, to concentrate on the advantages, rather than the disadvantages, of summer vacation.