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EDUCATION 101

by Benyamin Cohen    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

There are four categories of people who are exempt from combat in war. One of those classifications mentioned is the man who has just built a new house, but has not yet moved in.

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There are four categories of people who are exempt from combat in war. One of those classifications mentioned is the man who has just built a new house, but has not yet moved in. About him the verse states, "What man is there that has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the war and another man will inaugurate it." (Deuteronomy 20:5). The Torah uses the Hebrew terminology "chanachu" to mean "dedicated" in this verse. Rashi, an 11th century French commentator, interprets the word to mean "begin to live" in his new house.

Rabbi A.L. Scheinbaum in his book Peninim on the Torah comments that the word "chanachu" shares the same root as the Hebrew word "chinuch -- education". Examining the word in this light allows us to uncover a fundamental point in the educatory process. Education and learning in general should be viewed as a never-ending process. We can only begin to learn, to scratch the surface of the vast sea of knowledge which boundlessly awaits our perusal.

It is unfortunate that oftentimes we fall into the trap of learning something and thinking that we know all there is to know when, in fact, we have only just begun our education. People travel through life with the same understanding of the Torah and Jewish concepts which they had when they were 10, totally unaware of the rich and varied content of our tradition. The concepts which a mature adult can grasp are never even experienced by a person who has given up at a young age. This wasted potential can only be described as a travesty. Those who believe that Jewish education stops when a person becomes a Bar or Bat Mitzvah fail to view life through the "Big Picture" telescope. We must realize that our Jewish journey has just begun.

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Benyamin Cohen, a native Atlantan, is the editor of Torah from Dixie.

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