Torah For Today! This week: Euan Blair’s alternative to university

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Torah For Today! This week: Euan Blair’s alternative to university

Rabbi Ariel Abel reflects on the former PMs son's training company which has made him a fortune and offered young people another route to success

Rabbi Ariel Abel

Ariel Abel is rabbi of the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation

Euan Blair
Euan Blair

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s son, Euan, was revealed to be worth £73million after founding a training company offering alternatives to attending university. So, what does the Torah say about the importance of formal education and success?

What Euan Blair has achieved is essentially becoming a pioneer in formal education. University is not for everyone, and that should not mean there are no other alternatives. 

The Torah believes in alternatives that encourage opportunity. One story tells us of a family who wished to celebrate Pesach, the cornerstone of family education. They were not able to as they were bereaved at the time, and so they asked Moses if they could celebrate Pesach after its
fixed date. God gave them a second opportunity a month later for them to carry out a seder. 

Formal education is instilled at an early age, but late starters are encouraged. Rabbi Akiva only started to learn the Hebrew alphabet at the age of 40. This means that 1,900 years ago, the Jewish people were well ahead of the game in further education, recognising the value of access to all to study, gain skills and accumulate knowledge. 

Thanks to that, and to his wife’s untiring support, Rabbi Akiva rose to such enlightened heights that he became the key link in the chain of tradition without whom the Talmud may well have not come into existence. 

Kohelet, Ecclesiastes, attributed to King Solomon, reflects a society steeped in literature and the pursuit of knowledge to the point he warns: “More so, my son, be careful, of making many books there is no end; and too much study wearies
the body”. 

Solomon composed 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs. The prolific endeavours of famous rabbis and lay philosophers, artists, scientists and masters of other disciplines abound disproportionately to the world population.

It’s no surprise that the teacher-student relationship is the loftiest in Judaism. Moses himself is not known in Hebrew as the lawgiver, but as ‘our teacher’, showing the highest accolade possible in Judaism is paid to education. 

  • Rabbi Ariel Abel serves Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation and is padre to Merseyside Army Cadet Force

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