Graduation Inspiration



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    Graduation Inspiration

    From the desk of Rabbi Gershon Avtzon, Director of Yeshiva Lubavitch – Cincinnati: I am not a Lubavitcher, but I was forwarded some of your articles by a Lubavitcher friend and I really benefited from reading the Rebbe’s perspective on Chinuch. I am a teacher in the 12th grade of the Judaic department in a Modern-Orthodox school for girls. The students are anxiously and excitedly preparing for their graduation and their summer break. They are all busy with their college applications and acceptances and I feel something is missing. Is there a hashkafa of the Rebbe on graduation that I can share with my students that might inspire them or refocus their attention? • Click to Read

    Question: I am not a Lubavitcher, but I was forwarded some of your articles by a Lubavitcher friend and I really benefited from reading the Rebbe’s perspective on Chinuch. I am a teacher in the 12th grade of the Judaic department in a Modern-Orthodox school for girls. The students are anxiously and excitedly preparing for their graduation and their summer break. They are all busy with their college applications and acceptances and I feel something is missing. Is there a hashkafa of the Rebbe on graduation that I can share with my students that might inspire them or refocus their attention?

    Answer: Truthfully, I am very impressed with your question. While many teachers are themselves looking forward and focusing on their own vacation, you are trying to inspire your students.

    There certainly is much from the Rebbe about the topic of graduation. In fact, at the end of each year, the Rebbe delivers a special talk to the graduating class of Beis Rivkah.

    Graduating Doesn’t Mean Finishing

    Below, I will share with you a few letters of the Rebbe on the topic. The general theme of the letters is the following point: The focus by graduation is not what you are finishing but what you will be beginning in the future.

    (1) In response to a letter written to the teachers of Beis Rivka in Kfar Chabad who had written to the the Rebbe about a recent graduation, the Rebbe writes:

    “I have received in time your notification about the graduation — with all the details and the names of the graduates — and thank you for that.

    It is my hope that you stressed to your students that graduating a class or division of school is only a preparation for starting a new and higher level. For in anything connected to Torah and mitzvos, every end is really just a beginning. This is because Torah and mitzvos are from the eternal and infinite Hashem. On the contrary, every elevation demands an additional push to elevate ever higher with renewed vigor.” (Igros, Vol. 19 p. 402; #7401)

    [It is interesting to note that this letter was written in 5720 (1960), which marked the 200th anniversary of the histalkus (passing) of the Baal Shem Tov and the Rebbe continues to write that he is sure that the teachers stressed to the students that this is a special year. I make mention of this as this year is the 120th year since the birth of the Rebbe.]

    Graduation — Not from Judaic Studies

    (2) To a letter written to the graduating class of Yeshiva Beis Hillel (YBH) in Passaic, New Jersey (a school that still exists to this day), the Rebbe responds:

    “I was reading your letter about your study schedule. I’m sure it is superfluous to point out and stress that chas v’Shalom to say that Judaic subjects, of our holy Torah which is the source of our life, are finished and we take a break from them. On the contrary, they are always elevating to a higher place…

    “It is also “extra” to stress that there is a big mistake by those that claim that there are certain parts of Torah and mitzvos that are hard or impossible to keep. This perspective is against our faith and also against logic. Being that Torah and mitzvos were given by Hashem — the creator of the world and the maker of man — it is self-understood that even before he commands us to do anything, he gives us the abilities to be able to fulfill those commandments. The only thing that is demanded from us is the firm desire to fulfill the will of Hashem.

    “Thus, when learning at a school in which you learn secular subjects as well as Judaic subjects, when the time of graduation and vacation comes you should use your time to add to your Judaic studies..” (Igros, Vol. 20 p. 273; #7687).

    (3) To a letter written to the graduating class of the Yeshiva of Montreal, the Rebbe writes:

    “In connection to the graduation, I am sending my blessing to all those that are participating in the simcha of Torah. It is certainly understood that a siyum of a Yeshiva — especially a Lubavitcher Yeshiva — is really the beginning of a higher level of involvement in Torah and mitzvos. May Hashem provide — the blessing and power — that this should be seen and fulfilled by all the graduates in the fullest measure.” (Ibid, p. 276; #7690).

    The Moshiach Connection: 

    One of the words that we use to refer to the end of galus (exile) is “Keitz.” In our holy sefarim, there are two expressions: (a) “Keitz Hayamim, and (b) Keitz Kayamin. One is referring to the end of galus while one is referring to the beginning of the next stage, the era of Moshiach, very much reminiscent of the Rebbe’s understanding of the concept of graduation.

    Read these amazing words of the Rebbe (Shabbos Miketz 5751 (1991) about what it means to be singularly focused on Moshiach: “Similarly, with respect to the Torah reading of the Shabbos of Chanukah. During the Torah reading, as soon as a Jew hears and comprehends the word “Mikeitz – the End,” he exclaims, “Aha! This is an allusion to the end of exile, referred to as the “end of days – Keitz Hayamim” [spelled with a final mem, connoting the end of exile], as well as “the end of days – Kaitz Hayamin” [spelled with a final nun which connotes] the start of the Redemption!”

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