Friday, May 22, 2015

A question for Shavuos

Guest Post

It is axiomatic that we are moser nefesh for our children. We spend exorbitant sums so that we can send our children to Jewish schools so that they may obtain a proper education. One of the main lessons that they are taught is: "Torah is #1, there is no #2." Everything must be seen within the eyes of a torah-dik hashkafah. Our children are regaled with stories of tzadikim who put their lives on the line so they could learn one more passouk, one more tosfos. 

Nonetheless, when it comes to Shavous, I feel torn. Shavous is the pinnacle of celebrating the Torah. We have a whole holiday dedicated to learning and rejoicing not in a singular event (ma'amad Har Sinai), rather in the daily event of reengaging in our commitment to the Torah. 

Our leaders who preach that Torah learning should be the primary endeavor of our lives close their schools the day before yom tov. Simply put, our educators are being disingenuous. Yes, I agree that all the morahs and rebbies need to prepare for yom tov. Yes, I agree that people may wish to go away for yom tov. But what message are we sending our children? People who work in the secular world don't take off before yom tov and are still able to manage. My wife and I both work- she much more than I- yet we are able to plan and execute. Let us call a spade a spade: cancelling yeshiva on erev Shavous is hypocritical. 

But wait, it gets worse! Many schools have a late opening (or no opening for the girls- maybe their learning isn't as important?) on the day after Shavous. Again, what is the message that we are sending? These are the same schools that open on Sunday even after a late ending Shabbos.
All that I ask for is intellectual honesty.


  1. Great questions, always ask them also.

    Two answers:

    1) Torah really isn't that important and is just part of the culture. The culture is to say how it's #1 and so important, but it's not from a religious point of view but from a cultural point of view (this is a larger discussion that most people today practice "cultural Judaism")

    2) It is number 1 and important and people really believe it. However there is another point of view which is preparing for yom tov and getting ready for the simcha and oneg of yom tov that all families engage in (the children and their parents and of course the rebbes from chader and his family.) You mentioned this point but claim people in the secular world still work. True, but perhaps it depends how important it is to them the preparation. I know plenty of Orthodox Jews that work hard 4-5 days a week but Friday and erev Chag they take off completely to prepare for Shabbos/Yom Tov. Some have no choice and must work. I would say a person that is able to should take their children to learn to show the importance. If they can't then they can't (because of preparations, etc.) However if they can then they should and if they don't then they are sending the wrong message! Also the day after people may start later because the yom tov often runs late and children go to sleep later (along with the parents) and need their proper rest to then start the day engaged in Torah or working, etc. Same for the children and the parents. Or if we are going with explanation #1 than the day starts later because they are lazy. Take your pick.

  2. Boys elementary schools in Lakewood are operating on a regular Friday schedule today.

  3. Ridiculous questions. Primacy of Torah and intellectual honesty do not preclude living in the world or normal family life. We are sending the following message: The Yom Tov of Shavuos is very important. Go prepare for it like a normal person and ben Torah.


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