Dear Friend,

The first day of school . . . smiling children proudly wearing their freshly cleaned backpacks full of brand-new pencils, crayons and spiral notebooks.

As the new school year kicks off, there’s a message in this week’s Torah portion that says how to approach the task of raising children.

When bringing the first fruits, the bikkurim, to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, our ancestors would recount G‑d’s kindness in taking us out of Egypt, saying that He heard our voices and saved us from “affliction, toil and oppression.” “Our toil—these are the children,” says the Midrash, alluding to G‑d’s alleviation of the Egyptian persecution of bnei Yisrael’s children in particular.

The Midrash provides no proof for why the words “our toil” allude to our children—because such proof is entirely superfluous! Raising children takes hard work, “toil.” This is true not only of raising our own children, but also of educating and nurturing students, whom the Torah refers to as one’s children (see Deuteronomy 6:7 and Rashi).

Let’s keep this in mind and determinedly resolve to do what it takes. When we invest ourselves to a point that can rightfully be called “toil,” we can be confident that G‑d will make the seeds of our efforts bear fruit—students and children who, like the beautiful bikkurim, will give us much delightful nachas, Jewish pride, for which to be thankful.

Baruch S. Davidson,
on behalf of the Editorial Team