Even the atheists and secularists are opening yeshivot, though by definition there will be no “Thank God” in their study sessions: at least not yet.
When Professor Pinchas Churgin, the founder of Bar Ilan, the religious university, was asked, “How is your university different from all others?” he replied, “In other universities two and two make four. In our university two and two, with the help of God, make four!”
Now turn to the verse in this week’s reading about Jacob moving to Goshen in Egypt to start a new life. The text says (Gen. 46:28), “He sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph, to point the way to Goshen”.
“To point the way” is l’horot, which is also connected with the word Torah. Rashi explains the word in this sense. Judah was deputed to go ahead to open a yeshivah so that Jacob would be able to study Torah irrespective of the competing ways of his new environment. Without Torah he would feel bereft.
Expanding this theme we see that whenever a Jew enters upon a new phase of life, Torah must come too. Even if a person claims to be irreligious, that’s no excuse for not devoting time to Torah.
The rabbinical sages say that one of the questions put to each of us at the gateway of the World to Come is kavata ittim laTorah – “Did you set aside time for Torah?”
Not, “Were you a rabbi? How many books did you read? How pious were you?” – but “How much time did you give to Torah?”