1. As you finish your formal education, you begin a period of vacation — “free time.” But this freedom is only relative to a rigid class schedule, and cannot be misconstrued as an opportunity to be lax in Yiddishkeit, which is our life. For just as each moment in an individual’s life provides the opportunity to increase the light within his life; so too, a Jew makes of every new moment a chance to make his life more Jewish through Torah. And when beginning a vacation, making a radical shift in one’s activities, one not only increases gradually in Yiddishkeit, but moves to an entirely new level, effecting a markedly higher elevation which calls for a much greater increase in action, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

A Jew’s task when taking a vacation is to add more Judaism and enthusiasm to his life. When the vacation follows the completion of a period of education one must utilize all the knowledge accrued at the completed level to elevate oneself even higher.

As teachers and camp counselors, it will be demanded of you to expend limitless and inexhaustible energy. A monumental task indeed, but one which will be richly rewarded. For the act of teaching a child is not a momentary act which ends when the class is over. When that little bit of knowledge you impart effects an increase in the child’s actions, you have planted a seed which grows and continues to bear fruit, just as if you plant a fruit-bearing tree. And when this child grows older and also becomes involved with teaching and spreading Yiddishkeit, this single seed continues to nourish him and others as well. This occurs when just one thing is imparted to one child; how much greater is the reward if the teacher imparts many things to many children.

In the course of your formal studies you have learned what and how to teach children, knowledge which must be used during your vacation to benefit each child. This is not only in the best interests of the child, but the counselor as well. For it is Hashem’s mission and He is the source of all blessing. And of Jewish children He has said: “My son, My first-born Israel” and “Sons you are to Hashem your G‑d.” And as the Baal Shem Tov said and the Previous Rebbe emphasized, “Each child is to Hashem, as a single son, born to parents in their old age.”

This venture will meet with great success, for you are doing a favor to G‑d’s only sons and daughters. Success will be granted to all counselors and teachers and those who are preparing themselves to be counselors, teachers, and Akeres haBayis.

2. A particular lesson for this time of year can be drawn from today’s Sedra, which notes that it was in the merit of Miriam the prophetess that the well followed the Jewish people for forty years in the desert. Torah is everlasting; and that which Torah states about Miriam provides a lesson for all Jewish daughters in all times. One might offer the excuse that Miriam was a prophetess, Moshe’s sister, and the daughter of Amram and hence on an unattainable level. But it is told to all Jewish daughters and hence Miriam’s accomplishments can, at least in part, be attained by all.

The first thing we are told about Miriam is that she was called Puah. Why? The Jewish people were in Golus in Egypt, and it was very difficult to keep the ways of their fathers. Moreover, a decree was made by Pharaoh against all Jewish children. But a five-year old girl, Puah, would soothe the crying children and make them happy.

Every Jew in Golus, whether visibly or internally is “a child who is crying” asking: “Why are we in Golus? Why aren’t we in a state of complete freedom with Moshiach?” But Hashem wants us to serve Him with joy and therefore sends agents to soothe the children, to quiet their crying, to tell the children: “Although we are in Golus and cannot offer the sacrifices and do many Mitzvos; and even though it affects each Jew so strongly that he cries out and prays for redemption in every prayer — do not be afraid.” And even though redemption is coming very soon, any second, we must still calm the crying child.

This agent, whom G‑d sends is the Jewish daughter, Puah, who speaks to each one in a way he understands, explaining that there is a purpose, that we are in Golus to attain a higher level; that “through our sins we were exiled from our land” and in Golus we will be washed clean. And it is in Golus that we have the opportunity to light up the darkness and hasten our redemption.

When a Jewish child understands that only his body is in exile and not his soul, he will be filled with joy. For then his soul, which is a part of G‑d above, will watch over his body and see that it acts as it should. And then he will be truly free. For when the body does the bidding of the soul, it too is linked to Torah and Mitzvos and leaves Golus even while Golus still exists.

The second story of Miriam: Immediately upon leaving Egypt, she took her timbrel to express joy through dancing with the children who recognized G‑d first, and with the Jewish women who joined her and sang praises to G‑d for bringing them out of Golus.

But although they had left Egypt, they were not yet in Eretz Yisroel and hence, still in Golus. How could a Jew sing so while in Golus? Yet he knows that this is but a preparation for a higher level, for he sees the greatness of G‑d within every situation he encounters. Thus, the whole approach of the Jewish people was influenced by one woman who affected all Jewish daughters as G‑d’s agent, who led them in singing and praising G‑d, on their way to the good and complete land of Eretz Yisroel.

But the journey took forty years and they needed water in the desert. Hence, in the merit of the singing of the women — caused by Miriam — they had water from the well until they entered Eretz Yisroel. Water is not considered food and cannot be used as an eruv, but it states “One who eats and does not drink is not correct.” For water breaks down food in digestion; and the water in the bloodstream carries it to all parts of the body. This is the mission of all Jewish daughters: to bring the well of living water — Torah — to nourish all segments of the Jewish nation, even those who lack all knowledge of it. And when the Jewish mother, sister, teacher educates a Jewish child it is through their merit that the living waters of Miriam sustain the Jews in Golus, making him complete and happy, and capable of going peacefully throughout the “forty years” in the desert.

The third mention of Miriam: Her criticism of Moshe Rabbeinu, while a negative act for someone on her level, was a strong and valid complaint in all other circumstances. She reasoned, and rightfully so, that the Jewish people sustain themselves through having sons and daughters who observe Torah and Mitzvos, strengthening and revitalizing the Jewish nation, thus bringing about the coming of Moshiach. Consequently, another Jewish child from parents such as Moshe and Tziporah (who was known as the fairest in Torah and Mitzvos) would be a great addition to the Jewish people. Although she was punished for raising the subject with Aharon, we are also told that the whole nation waited a full week for her return before resuming their travels. For in a different situation she would have been correct; her “sin” lay in underestimating the high level of Moshe Rabbeinu.

This teaches us that we should strive to make of every Jewish child a fitting heir of Moshe and Tziporah, bringing strength and vitality to the Jewish people.

Moreover, although Miriam’s admonition did not apply to Moshe Rabbeinu it does apply to us. Our mission is to bring more Jewish children into the world, for every Jew is “a candle” and each Jewish child brings more light to the world, hastening the redemption. “For the Jews there was light in their dwellings” — even in the last years of exile; and so we proceed on our “lit up” path to receive our Righteous Moshiach.

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3. There is yet another lesson of today which lends strength to us in this time of darkness. Today is the fifth of Tammuz, the day when Yechezkel saw the vision of the chariot of G‑d. Even while submerged within the Babylonian exile which is the forerunner of our exile today, Yechezkel saw that “when the Jews were exiled the Shechinah went with them.” G‑d accompanied the Jewish people into Golus and He waits, looks, and hopes that every Jew will add more light through the candle of Mitzvos and the Torah of light. And this vision was not limited to Yechezkel, but we repeat it every year when we read of it at the time of Mattan Torah. On the fifth of Tammuz we remember it again, and this gives us strength, for we know G‑d has accompanied us even if we do not see it.

This will help light up the last days of Golus and hasten the light of redemption. As has been noted, “the world is shaking” but the Jew holds tightly onto the three things upon which the world stands — Torah, Prayer, and Acts of Kindness. We have recited verses of Torah and stated in our prayers: “May our eyes behold Your return to Zion in mercy.” There are coins on the table which you will take and give for Tzedakah. These actions will stabilize the world and each person who is a small world, allowing each Jew to stand strong in Yiddishkeit.

And this will bring completeness and fullness to every Jew and the whole Jewish nation through being connected with the complete Torah and the complete land of which it is said: “The eyes of the L‑rd your G‑d are upon it from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.” No non-Jew has any share whatsoever in this land, for G‑d gave it as an everlasting inheritance to every Jew, in every place, and in every time; and every Jew is a complete owner of Eretz Yisroel and no non-Jew has any say in the matter.

And through standing by the completeness of the land with the complete strength of conviction that this is an everlasting inheritance to the eternal Jewish nation through their connection with G‑d, we hasten the redemption. Then Moshiach will take every Jew out of Golus and we will take the complete Torah of our daily lives to the complete land in a manner of, “I will give peace in the land and you will lie down and not be afraid.” For “I will lead you upright” — the Jews will stand upright even in Golus, standing strong in Yiddishkeit and, thus, in their connection with G‑d. And we will go to greet Moshiach, speedily in our days.

(You will each probably take a coin for Tzedakah, adding to the stability of the world. You should each have a healthy summer, both physically and spiritually, and meet with much success.)