Dear Friend,

Imagine you were a 40-year-old poor illiterate shepherd who found it very difficult to learn. Let’s say you were inspired by the steady drip-drop of water making a growing hole in a hard rock and went off to learn Torah. After 24 years, you become one of the leading sages and attract 24,000 students.

Now, imagine that one of your most important teachings was to “love your fellow as yourself.” But despite that, all 24,000 students die in a plague because they went against your most fundamental teaching. You started out very late in life, you were finally successful in learning, and now, in your twilight years, the continuation of your lifework is gone. What would you do?

Thank G‑d, Rabbi Akiva (the hero of this story), lived with the motto: “It’s never too late.” He found five new students. These students (including Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, whose passing is celebrated this Thursday on Lag BaOmer) became some of the greatest sages of Israel, who ensured the continuance of Torah tradition.

We don’t need to wait until we’re 40 to study Torah. Yet even if we are already older, it’s simply never too late to start learning.

So what are we waiting for?

Yehuda Shurpin
on behalf of the Editorial Team