By the Grace of G‑d
Erev Shavuos—Festival of Receiving our Torah—5734
[May 26, 1974]
Brooklyn, N.Y.

To All Boy Students and To All Girl Students—
G‑d bless you

Greeting and Blessing:

Summer vacation is approaching, and no doubt you are all looking forward to making the most of it. I would like to make a suggestion to you in this connection.

The summer recess is meant to give you an opportunity to strengthen your health of body and soul, which, of course, go hand in hand together. For Jewish boys and girls to be truly healthy means, first of all, to have a healthy Neshomo (soul). And a Jewish soul derives its health from the Torah and Mitzvos, which are “our life and the length of our days,” as we say in our prayers.

Needless to say, life and health must be continuous, and one cannot take a “vacation” from them.

The Torah and Mitzvos are to the Jewish soul what breathing and nourishment are to the body. A healthy person seldom thinks about the vital necessity of breathing and food. However, on certain occasions one becomes acutely aware of these things. For example, when one swims under water and holds his breath, then comes up and feels the urge to fill his lungs with fresh air. Or, after a fast day, when the body has been temporarily weakened from lack of food and drink—one immediately feels the invigorating effect of food and drink.

Now, during the school year, when a great deal of time that should be spent in studying the Torah and doing Mitzvos is taken up with other occupations, such as the study of English and arithmetic, the soul gets somewhat undernourished. At such times, your soul “holds its breath,” so to speak, which makes it more eager to get back to Torah and Mitzvos whenever time is available.

Come the summer recess, and your soul can now breathe more freely and more fully, for you are then released from those other studies and occupations.

Thus, the summer vacation gives you an opportunity to apply yourselves to Torah study and Torah activities with the utmost eagerness and enthusiasm—not only to make good use of your free time, but also to make up for lost time during the past school period, and, what is not less important, to give your soul a chance to fortify herself and “take a deep breath” for the school period ahead.

As a matter of fact, the summer vacation seems to be so well planned for this purpose, for it is a time when you can devote yourselves to Torah study and Torah activities in particularly agreeable circumstances: in a relaxed frame of mind and in pleasant natural surroundings of sunshine and fresh air.

Moreover, it comes soon after the Festival of Shavuos, the Season of Receiving Our Torah at Sinai. As you know, this Festival comes after the days and weeks of Counting the Omer, in memory of the eager anticipation of our ancestors, from the day after they left Egypt until receiving this greatest Divine gift—the Torah and Mitzvos—seven weeks later. This should provide an added measure of inspiration to last through each and every day of the summer vacation and, indeed, throughout the year.

I urge you, dear children, to make the most of your summer vacation in light of all that has been said above. Think about it, and put it into effect—in the fullest measure, and G‑d will surely bless you with a happy and healthy summer, happy and healthy both spiritually and physically.

With blessing for a joyous and inspiring Festival of Mattan Torah, and for a healthy and happy summer and always,