It’s back to school time, which means parents are rushing to buy school supplies, ensure their kids are registered and ready, and to get the family back into the routine of waking up early, packing lunches, and doing homework.
While the Tanakh and Talmud don’t have much to say about the stress of back to school shopping, these texts and many famous rabbis do have plenty of wisdom to share about how important learning is. We have compiled our favorite Jewish quotes about education and being a student to help inspire you and your kids to get back in the school spirit!
1. “Ben Zoma says: Who is wise? He who learns from every person.“
This quote is from Pirkei Avot, a book within the Mishnah that offers the wisdom of the sages regarding being a good person and Jew. While kids sometimes don’t love certain teachers or subjects, this line is a great reminder that there is always something to be learned from everyone and everything in life.
2. “Throughout the centuries, when the vast majority of Europe was illiterate, Jews maintained an educational infrastructure as their highest priority. It is no exaggeration to say that this lay at the heart of the Jewish ability to survive catastrophe, negotiate change and flourish in difficult circumstances.”
The above was written by Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in his book, “The Dignity of Difference.” It’s a powerful statement about how critical education has been from generation to generation to preserving the Jewish people through hardships, and how taking learning seriously is a quintessential Jewish value.
3. “Educate a child according to their way.”
This line can be found in Proverbs 22:6, and while this may sound like advice pointed toward teachers, it’s also an important reminder for children: they can be active participants in their learning and should put effort into understanding how they learn and study best so they can thrive.
4. “The purpose of learning is repentance and good deeds.”
Attributed to Sage Rava in Berakhot, this quote is specifically referring to learning Torah and Jewish subjects, but the message stands on its own. Learning anything helps us grow as people.
5. “The more schooling, the more wisdom.”
After a summer spent by the pool or with friends, heading back to the classroom can feel like a bummer. But this quote from Pirkei Avot reminds us that all of that hard work at school pays off as we learn and become wiser!
6. “The Jewish tradition of learning is learning. Adam chose knowledge.”
This quote, once said by Elie Wiesel, proves that education is a core part of being Jewish. After all, we are the People of the Book!
7. “Education – the ability not merely to read and write but to master and apply information and have open access to knowledge – is essential to human dignity. I have suggested that it is the basis of a free society. Because knowledge is power, equal access to knowledge is a precondition of equal access to power.”
This is another wise quote from Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, also from his book, “The Dignity of Difference.” While kids can feel frustrated wondering when they will ever need advanced math or science again after they graduate, it’s important to remember that learning itself is a process and journey that we continue throughout our lives.