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Thursday, August 6, 2020 - 16 Av 5780
 
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Goal Attainment

The school year is winding to a close. A year in which students, hopefully, reached important educational milestones. A year, also, in which teachers, parents, and public figures debated what the goals of education should be, and how those goals should best be attained. The education of our children hangs in the balance while we grope our way to figure out what we are trying to accomplish.

The debate hinges around whether the purpose of education is to prepare students for a career, or to prepare students for life. The careerists argue that the definition of educational success is if students can qualify for high-paying jobs. The "lifers" argue that job skills are but one component of education; students need to be taught how to think, how to learn and how to behave in order to become productive in all aspects of their lives.

Last year, an educational conference was held in Israel, and it was decided that the greatest emphasis should be placed on technological education. The proof that technological education should be central in importance was the fact that the majority of the world's wealthiest people have a technological background. In other words, we must equip our children with the skills they need to earn that most coveted title – billionaire.

*

Almost without realizing it, the educational conference had implicitly accepted the tenet that our worth as individuals is defined by our earning power. We are born to make money; it is the central ideal and the basis of life.

True, it is important for a person to learn skills, to have a trade, a way of earning a livelihood. We all have needs that can only be met in exchange for money. But earning money must not be and never has been the central purpose of life. In no way can we use money as a parameter for defining quality of life. Quality of life is defined by goal attainment--and money is only one means of attaining a goal. It is not a goal for itself.

 What, then, is the ideal? To grow and to improve ourselves and the world, the society that we are part of. For this we were created; this must be our striving and our goal. For this we must educate our children. Money can help us reach our goal--but it is only an aid. It won't do the job for us.

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About 20 years ago, the Lubavitcher Rebbe had a lengthy conversation with another Jewish leader on the best way to accomplish our goal, to improve ourselves and the world through Torah and mitzvot. The Rebbe was asked if money will help us achieve that goal, or perhaps it is an obstacle. The Rebbe's response was unequivocal: In this generation, we need to have not just enough money but we need to have wealth, in order to perform mitzvot easily.

 In the era of Moshiach, we are promised great wealth, and there will be no hindrance to serving G-d in comfort. This shows that physical bounty is a blessing, but it is a vehicle, secondary to our goal, which is to serve G-d and study His Torah. Our efforts to achieve this goal will lead to the true and complete Redemption, when we will lead a life of peace and tranquility for all eternity.
 

 


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