It’s been a really wonderful first day of school for our Goldsmith Early Childhood undergraduates and our Krieger Schechter learners. When I walked the halls this morning I marveled at these tall, suntanned, smiling students who seem to have grown many inches since I last saw them in June. Some are now even taller than I am, though thankfully none of the preschoolers! The few tears were to be expected and parents and littlest learners were lovingly comforted.
While our Jewish tradition reminds us to say blessings both before and after eating, that is not the case when it comes to learning. Our tradition mandates only that we say a blessing before we begin Torah study but not after we study. The Vilna Gaon explains the reason for this is that the sweetness of Torah study is not appreciated until after one has worked for it and made an effort. No blessing is required afterwards because once we have experienced the learning, we have a natural sense of pleasure.
Beginnings are not always easy, to say the least. Reciting a blessing before beginning to learn helps us anticipate the sweetness and reward of what is to come.
I wish you a sweet year of learning with only tears of joy, pants with reinforced knees and hems that can easily be let down, inches and miles of growth, and many blessed beginnings.