Let My People Know

"The prevailing feeling is that 'life' is the life of the young adult"


Education based on the assumption that "real life" is somewhere in the future, that it is yet to come, also contains some implicit assumptions also on the nature of "real life." 

To be sure, every society has a different conception of what that life is.

But the feeling is always that "life itself" is that period in which one is physically mature – namely, those years of one's life in which one is at the peak of bodily development. 

Needless to say, no educator will actually formulate things this way.

Yet what counts is not formulations (to the extent that they exist), but rather what a person feels. 

The prevailing feeling is that "life" is the life of the young adult, in full possession of all his physical powers, whose eyes can see and whose heart can covet all that the world can offer a person with a wholesome body, who can – physically and spiritually – enjoy whatever he desires. 

Education, then, unconsciously postpones all the wishes, aspirations, and ideas about this desired happiness to the stage of adulthood. 

Moreover: not only adulthood is considered the ideal lifetime, but also all the cravings and passions of this age. 

One may still have many more ways of enjoyment.

But since adulthood is the ideal, whenever a person cannot – for whatever reason – fulfill all these wishes and imaginations that are related to adulthood and to the possibilities it opens, one feels miserable.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From the essay "From Childhood to Old Age: The Inner Aspect of Education" by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz