Printed from chabad.org

To Study Our Children

To Study Our Children

E-mail

One of the sacred tasks of parents and teachers is to educate the next generation and to impart to our children the knowledge and values of our Torah. We cannot be content with our own study – we have to teach the young.

This mitzvah is featured in this week's Torah portion in the words of the Shema which we recite thrice daily: “…teach them to your children, to discuss them, while you sit in your home, while you walk on the way, when you retire and when you arise…”

What is intriguing is that the great codifier Maimonides, as well as R. Schneur Zalman's of Liadi in his Code of Jewish Law, present the laws relating to teaching Torah to our children before presenting the laws of studying Torah. It seems quite obvious that one cannot teach before studying. Why would the laws pertaining to teaching a child precede the adult’s requirement to learn?

The power and advantage of a developed, adult, mature mind is magnified by life’s experiences. The theoretical insights that are gleaned are enhanced and embellished by the wealth amassed through the challenges and circumstances of one’s past.

But there is a deficiency and handicap in an adult’s approach to absorbing the words of Torah. So often, objectivity, humility and serenity of spirit are casualties of preconceived ideas. Our entrenched frames of reference capture data into existing files predetermined and predefined. Our life’s experiences have formed calluses on our attitudes and philosophies. We cling to familiar paths formed by habitual past journeys. We evaluate with prejudices and perspectives already firmly formed. We begin to judge by our decisions rather than decide by our judgments.

How often are we left unmoved by a truth because we are self-consciously aware of the ramifications of accepting such truths? We fit teachings into lifestyles rather than confront the challenge of change. We quote and emphasize to subjectively endorse and support, rather then to aspire and strive for uncharted new heights.

So often, objectivity, humility and serenity of spirit are casualties of preconceived ideas The laws of studying Torah are preceded by the laws of teaching a child, to remind us how to absorb the words of G-d. The learning of a young child – so eager, so fresh, so open, so inspired and so unencumbered by baggage – is like “ink written on fresh paper,” – teaching us the art of true Torah study.

May our spiritual and intellectual journeys always retain the effervescence, passion and innocence of a child. May we, this Shabbat, find comfort, optimism and belief in a world about to be redeemed, by allowing ourselves to peer through the eyes and hope of a child.

Rabbi Dovid Hazdan is Dean of the Torah Academy school in Johannesburg, South Africa and rabbi of the Great Park Synagogue
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
E-mail
1000 characters remaining
Email me when new comments are posted.
Sort By:
Discussion (4)
August 4, 2009
Intresting
Very interesting article but I question the premise. Our sages state that the Jewish elders become more sure of themselves as they age. In other words is not the age but the stage. Its not how old you are – even a child being taught the wrong premises will eventually need to unlearn them – rather it is the trust in G-d – the reverence for his holy Torah – and the childlike innocence that will help anyone at any time.
Michael Feldman
Brooklyn, USA
August 3, 2009
Rabbi Hazan "To study our children"
What a beautiful and fresh breath of air,may we enjoy more from this writer.
Paul Minkevitch
Newton, Kansas
July 27, 2007
Beautiful lesson masterfully conveyed
I look forward to seeing more articles from Rabbi Hazdan
Pini
chabad.co.za
September 30, 2006
Great article
its a very nice article can we have some moreof Rabbi Hazdans articles
Anonymous
new york, 11213
This page in other languages
FEATURED ON CHABAD.ORG