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No matter what official calendars may say, there is no question that the summer has arrived here in Israel. We have had quite a number of hot spells already and there will undoubtedly be many more over the coming months. Summer generally has become synonymous with leisure, vacations, trips and a more relaxed view of life.

Naturally, there are always uncertain events, completely unpredictable and unforeseen, that can interfere with this idyllic view of the season. Yet, we still all hope that this will be a hot summer only in terms of weather and not of politics, government, or strife, God for bid. The hallmark of summer is that schools are pretty much shut down and children are freed from their daily scholastic chores.
There is a responsa written in the late twelfth century in France by Rabbi Isaac of Dampiere (RI), a great-nephew of Rashi and one of the chief editors of the Tosafot, that discusses the necessity to grant children time off from study. It seems that a certain father had hired a tutor to teach his child Torah studies. The tutor did so on a daily basis but after a period of time he demanded the right to take off for a day…. and not to being caged in teaching the child during that particular time.
The father was angered by this behavior of the tutor and attempted to discharge him, even though he admitted that otherwise the tutor was doing a good job. The tutor appealed to Rabbi Isaac for his wages and his position. The great Rabbi Isaac decided that the tutor was wrongfully injured in this manner and should be restored to his position and livelihood.
In addition Rev. Isaac commented that it is beneficial for students to have a certain period of time free from studies in order to refresh and be able, therefore, to become better students when their studies resume. I had the opportunity of repeating this to a certain educator here in Israel who complained that teachers have too much time off. I told him that I thought that it all depends on the teacher, the students and the circumstances that accompany that free time.
Here in Israel, summertime is travel time both within and without the country. We Israelis are a restless, traveling population. Believe it or not, I have already heard a number of friends of mine complain that they have been everywhere, seen everything and that there is nowhere new to go.
I have held my tongue and not recommended any potential new sites for them to visit. But I am a convinced that for many, traveling itself is the experience, not the destination or the museum or the scenery that is advertised in the travel brochure. There was a time when travel was a much more difficult chore than it is today, as the automobile and the airplane have combined to shrink the world.
And summer usually provides the best time of the year to satisfy this travel lust. Israelis leave to see the world in the summer and there are a large number of tourists who arrive to visit Israel and see its splendor during the warm summer months. The feel of the streets of Jerusalem in the summer is different than it is the rest of the year. It is somewhat more carefree, more relaxed and certainly louder than it is during other times of the year.
Air-conditioning was a late arrival in the Israeli lifestyle, but now that it has arrived it is exploited with a vengeance. One wonders how even a few decades ago people functioned and were satisfied with their lives during the hot summer before air-conditioning became available.
Electricity is relatively expensive in our country and therefore people are rather frugal in deciding whether or not to turn on the air conditioning in their homes and apartments. However, by now, all public buildings and most commercial establishments have air-conditioning and use it to a considerable and constant extent during the summer months.
Jerusalem usually has cool nights even in the summer, so the use of air-conditioning in order to sleep comfortably is not an absolute necessity. The Talmud records for us that there was an evening breeze that daily swept up any debris that may have collected during the day on the Temple Mount. There are echoes of that breeze that still occur during the summer months here in present-day Jerusalem. It comes to remind us of our heritage and of the fact that we have been here a long time and that, in many ways, things really have not changed over the millennia of our history.
Shabbat shalom
Berel Wein

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