The Midrash views this journey from the Mountain of Hashem in an uncomplimentary manner. Chazal equate Bnei Yisrael’s departure with a “child who is running away from school,” happy to leave the holy place where he received mitzvos. Inasmuch as their venture away from the Har Hashem was in accordance with Hashem’s will, Bnei Yisrael’s attitude reflected a haste that was unbecoming and inappropriate. We must endeavor to understand the analogy to a child running from school. After all, Klal Yisrael was not delinquent in their departure.
Horav Elyakim Shlesinger, Shlita, gives the following insight into this analogy. Why does a child leave school prematurely ? It is not because he regrets the lessons he has received; he simply feels that he has acquired sufficient knowledge, and he has no need to continue further. Regrettably, this was Bnei Yisrael’s atitude when they departed the mountain. They had received the Torah, and they now felt they had it all. They no longer felt a need for further study.
Unfortunately, one who does not strive to attain further heights in Torah erudition, who does not exert himself in his quest for further Torah study, will stagnate and ultimately regress dismally. This sudden departure from Torah achievement was the precursor of the ensuing sins symbolized by their bitter complaints against Hashem. We must remember that the concept of “extra curricular” does not apply to Torah studies. Torah is the lifeblood of our existence — a commodity of which we can never acquire too much.