Chapter 4ד׳
1 א

אֵין מְלַמְּדִין תּוֹרָה אֶלָּא לְתַלְמִיד הָגוּן נָאֶה בְּמַעֲשָׂיו. אוֹ לְתָם. אֲבָל אִם הָיָה הוֹלֵךְ בְּדֶרֶךְ לֹא טוֹבָה מַחְזִירִין אוֹתוֹ לַמּוּטָב וּמַנְהִיגִין אוֹתוֹ בְּדֶרֶךְ יְשָׁרָה וּבוֹדְקִין אוֹתוֹ וְאַחַר כָּךְ מַכְנִיסִין אוֹתוֹ לְבֵית הַמִּדְרָשׁ וּמְלַמְּדִין אוֹתוֹ. אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים כָּל הַשּׁוֹנֶה לְתַלְמִיד שֶׁאֵינוֹ הָגוּן כְּאִלּוּ זָרַק אֶבֶן לְמַרְקוּלִיס שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי כו ח) "כִּצְרוֹר אֶבֶן בְּמַרְגֵּמָה כֵּן נוֹתֵן לִכְסִיל כָּבוֹד". וְאֵין כָּבוֹד אֶלָּא תּוֹרָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי ג לה) "כָּבוֹד חֲכָמִים יִנְחָלוּ". וְכֵן הָרַב שֶׁאֵינוֹ הוֹלֵךְ בְּדֶרֶךְ טוֹבָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁחָכָם גָּדוֹל הוּא וְכָל הָעָם צְרִיכִין לוֹ אֵין מִתְלַמְּדִין מִמֶּנּוּ עַד שׁוּבוֹ לַמּוּטָב. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (מלאכי ב ז) "כִּי שִׂפְתֵי כֹהֵן יִשְׁמְרוּ דַעַת וְתוֹרָה יְבַקְשׁוּ מִפִּיהוּ כִּי מַלְאַךְ ה' צְבָאוֹת הוּא". אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים אִם הָרַב דּוֹמֶה לְמַלְאַךְ ה' צְבָאוֹת תּוֹרָה יְבַקְּשׁוּ מִפִּיהוּ אִם לָאו אַל יְבַקְּשׁוּ תּוֹרָה מִפִּיהוּ:

No instructions in the Torah should be given to any but a fit student of proper conduct, or to one indifferently known; but if one followed a way which is not good, we first must bring him back to goodness and lead him in the path of righteousness and scrutinize him, after which we may admit him to the Beth Hamedrash and give him instructions. The sages said: "He who instructs an unfit disciple is likened unto one who serves Mercury by casting a stone upon him, as it is said: "As a small stone in a heap of stones, so is he that giveth honor to a fool'" (Prov. 26.8; Hullin, 133a). There is no honor save in the Torah as it is said: "The wise shall inherit honor" (Prov. 3.35). Likewise, a Rabbi who does not follow the good way, though he be a great scholar and all of the people stand in need of him no instruction should be received from him until his return to goodness, as it is said: "For the priests' lips should keep knowledge and they should seek the Law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts" (Mal. 2.7). Thereupon the sages said: "If the Rabbi be like unto the messenger of the Lord of Hosts then shall they seek the Law at his mouth, if not, they shall not seek the Law at his mouth."1Ta’anit, 7b; Mo’ed Katan, 16a; Makkot, 10b. C. G.

2 ב

כֵּיצַד מְלַמְּדִים. הָרַב יוֹשֵׁב בָּרֹאשׁ וְהַתַּלְמִידִים מֻקָּפִים לְפָנָיו כַּעֲטָרָה כְּדֵי שֶׁיְּהוּ כֻּלָּם רוֹאִים הָרַב וְשׁוֹמְעִים דְּבָרָיו. וְלֹא יֵשֵׁב הָרַב עַל הַכִּסֵּא וְתַלְמִידָיו עַל הַקַּרְקַע אֶלָּא אוֹ הַכּל עַל הָאָרֶץ אוֹ הַכּל עַל הַכִּסְאוֹת. וּבָרִאשׁוֹנָה הָיָה הָרַב יוֹשֵׁב וְהַתַּלְמִידִים עוֹמְדִים וּמִקֹּדֶם חֻרְבַּן בַּיִת שֵׁנִי נָהֲגוּ הַכּל לְלַמֵּד לַתַּלְמִידִים וְהֵם יוֹשְׁבִים:

In what manner should instruction be given? The master sits at the head and the disciples sit in a garland shaped semi-circle before him so that all can see the master and hear his words. The master shall not sit on a chair and his disciples on the ground, but they should sit either all on the ground or all on chairs. In the days of yore the custom was for the master to sit and the disciples to stand during instructions, but before the destruction of the Second Temple, the universal rule was inaugurated to instruct with the disciples sitting.2Megillah, 21. See also Baba Mezi’a 84b; Sanhedrin, 17a; Mo’ed Katan 16b. C. G.

3 ג

אִם הָיָה מְלַמֵּד מִפִּיו לַתַּלְמִידִים מְלַמֵּד. וְאִם הָיָה מְלַמֵּד עַל פִּי מְתַרְגֵּם [הַמְתַרְגֵּם] עוֹמֵד בֵּינוֹ וּבֵין הַתַּלְמִידִים וְהָרַב אוֹמֵר לַמְתַרְגֵּם וְהַמְתַרְגֵּם מַשְׁמִיעַ לְכָל הַתַּלְמִידִים. וּכְשֶׁהֵם שׁוֹאֲלִין לַמְתַרְגֵּם הוּא שׁוֹאֵל לָרַב וְהָרַב מֵשִׁיב לַמְתַרְגֵּם וְהַמְתַרְגֵּם מֵשִׁיב לַשּׁוֹאֵל. וְלֹא יַגְבִּיהַּ הָרַב קוֹלוֹ יוֹתֵר מִקּוֹל הַמְתַרְגֵּם. וְלֹא יַגְבִּיהַּ הַמְתַרְגֵּם קוֹלוֹ בְּעֵת שֶׁשּׁוֹאֵל אֶת הָרַב יוֹתֵר מִקּוֹל הָרַב. אֵין הַמְתַרְגֵּם רַשַּׁאי לֹא לִפְחֹת וְלֹא לְהוֹסִיף וְלֹא לְשַׁנּוֹת אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הָיָה הַמְתֻרְגְּמָן אָבִיו שֶׁל חָכָם אוֹ רַבּוֹ. אוֹמֵר הָרַב לַמְתֻרְגְּמָן כָּךְ אָמַר לִי רַבִּי אוֹ כָּךְ אָמַר לִי אַבָּא מָרִי. וּכְשֶׁאוֹמֵר הַמְתֻרְגְּמָן הַדְּבָרִים לָעָם אוֹמֵר בְּשֵׁם הֶחָכָם וּמַזְכִּיר שְׁמוֹ שֶׁל אֲבִי הָרַב אוֹ שֶׁל רַבּוֹ וְאוֹמֵר כָּךְ אָמַר רַבָּנָא פְּלוֹנִי אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא הִזְכִּיר הָרַב שְׁמוֹ שֶׁל חָכָם. שֶׁאָסוּר לִקְרוֹת לְרַבּוֹ אוֹ לְאָבִיו בִּשְׁמוֹ:

If the master instructs the disciples personally he should give the instructions direct, but if he instructs through an interpreter, the interpreter stands between him and the disciples, then the master speaks to the interpreter and the interpreter in turn, recites the lessons to all the disciples. When the disciples ask questions, they ask of the interpreter, he repeats the question to the master, the master answers the interpreter, and the interpreter answers the questioner. The master shall not raise his voice above the voice of the interpreter, nor shall the interpreter raise his voice when he repeats the question to the master, above the master's voice. The interpreter is not permitted to diminish from or add to, or change, aught in the master's lesson unless the interpreter be either the father of the master, or the master's master. The master says to the interpreter: "so was I instructed by my master or so was I instructed by the master, my father," and when the interpreter repeats these words to the audience, he speaks in the name of the master and mentions the name of the master's father or of the master's master, and he says, "thus was said by the master named so and so", although the master himself did not pronounce the name of the master of whom he heard it, as it is forbidden to call by name either one's master or one's father.4Kiddushin, 31b. C.

4 ד

הָרַב שֶׁלִּמֵּד וְלֹא הֵבִינוּ הַתַּלְמִידִים לֹא יִכְעֹס עֲלֵיהֶם וְיִרְגַּז אֶלָּא חוֹזֵר וְשׁוֹנֶה הַדָּבָר אֲפִלּוּ כַּמָּה פְּעָמִים עַד שֶׁיָּבִינוּ עֹמֶק הַהֲלָכָה. וְכֵן לֹא יֹאמַר הַתַּלְמִיד הֵבַנְתִּי וְהוּא לֹא הֵבִין אֶלָּא חוֹזֵר וְשׁוֹאֵל אֲפִלּוּ כַּמָּה פְּעָמִים. וְאִם כָּעַס עָלָיו רַבּוֹ וְרָגַז יֹאמַר לוֹ רַבִּי תּוֹרָה הִיא וְלִלְמֹד אֲנִי צָרִיךְ וְדַעְתִּי קְצָרָה:

When a master gave a lesson which the disciples did not understand, he should not get angry at them and be moody, but go over it again and repeat it even many times, until they will understand the depth of the treatise. Likewise, a disciple shall not say, I understood, and he did not understand; but he should repeat and ask even many times. If the master angers at him and becomes moody, he may say to him: "Master, it is Torah, and I need instruction, but my mind is short of understanding"!5Erubin, 54b; Pir. Ab., 2.6. C. G.

5 ה

לֹא יִהְיֶה הַתַּלְמִיד בּוֹשׁ מֵחֲבֵרָיו שֶׁלָּמְדוּ מִפַּעַם רִאשׁוֹנָה אוֹ שְׁנִיָּה וְהוּא לֹא לָמַד אֶלָּא אַחַר כַּמָּה פְּעָמִים. שֶׁאִם נִתְבַּיֵּשׁ מִדָּבָר זֶה נִמְצָא נִכְנָס וְיוֹצֵא לְבֵית הַמִּדְרָשׁ וְהוּא אֵינוֹ לָמֵד כְּלוּם. לְפִיכָךְ אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים אֵין הַבַּיְשָׁן לָמֵד וְלֹא הַקַּפְּדָן מְלַמֵּד. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בִּזְמַן שֶׁלֹּא הֵבִינוּ הַתַּלְמִידִים הַדָּבָר מִפְּנֵי עָמְקוֹ אוֹ מִפְּנֵי דַּעְתָּן שֶׁהִיא קְצָרָה. אֲבָל אִם נִכָּר לָרַב שֶׁהֵם מִתְרַשְּׁלִין בְּדִבְרֵי תּוֹרָה וּמִתְרַפִּין עֲלֵיהֶן וּלְפִיכָךְ לֹא הֵבִינוּ חַיָּב לִרְגֹז עֲלֵיהֶן וּלְהַכְלִימָן בִּדְבָרִים כְּדֵי לְחַדְּדָם. וּכְעִנְיָן זֶה אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים זְרֹק מָרָה בַּתַּלְמִידִים. לְפִיכָךְ אֵין רָאוּי לָרַב לִנְהֹג קַלּוּת רֹאשׁ לִפְנֵי הַתַּלְמִידִים וְלֹא לִשְׂחֹק בִּפְנֵיהֶם וְלֹא לֶאֱכל וְלִשְׁתּוֹת עִמָּהֶם כְּדֵי שֶׁתְּהֵא אֵימָתוֹ עֲלֵיהֶן וְיִלְמְדוּ מִמֶּנּוּ בִּמְהֵרָה:

A disciple shall not feel ashamed before his fellows who mastered the subject the first or the second time, whereas he did not grasp it until after hearing it many times, for if he will be ashamed of such a thing, he will find himself coming in and going out of the Beth Hamedrash without any instructions at all. The sages, therefore, said: "He who is bashful cannot be instructed and he who is in an angry mood cannot instruct." (Pirke Abot, 2.6). Whereof are such things said? In instances when the disciples did not understand a subject because of its depth or because their mind is short; but if it appears to the master that they are indolent to study the words of the Torah, and sluggish in acquiring them, because of which they did not understand, he is obliged to rebuke them and shame them with words in order to make them energetic. And on this subject the sages said: "Cast gall amongst the disciples." (Ketubot, 103b). It is, therefore, unbecoming for a master to conduct himself light-headedly in the presence of the disciples, not to amuse himself in their presence, nor eat or drink with them, so that they will stand in awe before him and receive instructions from him diligently.6Pesahim, 55a. G.

6 ו

אֵין שׁוֹאֲלִין אֶת הָרַב כְּשֶׁיִּכָּנֵס לַמִּדְרָשׁ עַד שֶׁתִּתְיַשֵּׁב דַּעְתּוֹ עָלָיו. וְאֵין הַתַּלְמִיד שׁוֹאֵל כְּשֶׁיִּכָּנֵס עַד שֶׁיִּתְיַשֵּׁב וְיָנוּחַ. וְאֵין שׁוֹאֲלִין שְׁנַיִם כְּאֶחָד. וְאֵין שׁוֹאֲלִין אֶת הָרַב מֵעִנְיָן אַחֵר אֶלָּא מֵאוֹתוֹ הָעִנְיָן שֶׁהֵן עֲסוּקִין בּוֹ כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִתְבַּיֵּשׁ. וְיֵשׁ לָרַב לְהַטְעוֹת אֶת הַתַּלְמִידִים בִּשְׁאֵלוֹתָיו וּבַמַּעֲשִׂים שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה בִּפְנֵיהֶם כְּדֵי לְחַדְּדָן. וּכְדֵי שֶׁיֵּדַע אִם זוֹכְרִים הֵם מַה שֶּׁלִּמְּדָם אוֹ אֵינָם זוֹכְרִים. וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ רְשׁוּת לִשְׁאל אוֹתָם בְּעִנְיָן אַחֵר שֶׁאֵין עוֹסְקִין בּוֹ כְּדֵי לְזָרְזָם:

The master should not be asked any question upon his arrival in the lecture room, not until his mind will be tranquil; nor should a disciple commence to ask questions as soon as he comes in, not until he will be rested and his thoughts composed. Two students should ask no question simultaneously. No question on a different subject should be asked of a master, but limit it to the subject under discussion, so that he be not put to shame. The master may circumvent his questions of the students and his demeaner when in their presence in order to test and energize them, and to know whether they remember what they have learned or whether they do not remember it. Needless to say that he has authority to ask them questions regarding other subjects which are not under discussion so as to have them take care of all their lessons.7Tosefta, Sanhedrin, ch. 7; Shabbat, 3b; Horayot, 14a; Ketubot, 61a; Bekorot, 45b; Nedarim, 90a. C. R.

7 ז

אֵין שׁוֹאֲלִין מְעֻמָּד וְאֵין מְשִׁיבִין מְעֻמָּד וְלֹא מִגָּבוֹהַּ וְלֹא מֵרָחוֹק וְלֹא מֵאֲחוֹרֵי הַזְּקֵנִים. וְאֵין שׁוֹאֲלִין הָרַב אֶלָּא בְּעִנְיָן שֶׁהֵן קוֹרִין בּוֹ. וְאֵין שׁוֹאֲלִין אֶלָּא מִיִּרְאָה. וְלֹא יִשְׁאַל בָּעִנְיָן יוֹתֵר מִשָּׁלֹשׁ הֲלָכוֹת:

No question should be asked standing and no replies given standing; not from a higher place and not from a distance and not from behind the elders. No questions should be asked of the master save on the subject of the lesson then being recited, and the questioning should not be in any but in a profound mood, and each student should not ask more than three questions on a given subject.8Tosefta, Sanhedrin, ch. 7; the admonition here is not to question the master even on the subject under discussion, but confine it to the particular phase of the question. For example: If the subject is concerning the Sabbath, and the chapter deals with carrying things from domicile to domicile, he shall not be asked what to do if a barrel breaks open on Sabbath. C. G.

8 ח

שְׁנַיִם שֶׁשָּׁאֲלוּ. שָׁאַל אֶחָד כָּעִנְיָן וְשָׁאַל אֶחָד שֶׁלֹּא כָּעִנְיָן נִזְקָקִין לָעִנְיָן. מַעֲשֶׂה וְשֶׁאֵינוֹ מַעֲשֶׂה נִזְקָקִין לַמַּעֲשֶׂה. הֲלָכָה וּמִדְרָשׁ נִזְקָקִין לַהֲלָכָה. מִדְרָשׁ וְאַגָּדָה נִזְקָקִין לַמִּדְרָשׁ. אַגָּדָה וְקַל וָחֹמֶר נִזְקָקִין לַקַּל וָחֹמֶר. קַל וָחֹמֶר וּגְזֵרָה שָׁוָה נִזְקָקִין לַקַּל וָחֹמֶר. הָיוּ הַשּׁוֹאֲלִין שְׁנַיִם אֶחָד חָכָם וְאֶחָד תַּלְמִיד נִזְקָקִין לֶחָכָם. תַּלְמִיד וְעַם הָאָרֶץ נִזְקָקִין לַתַּלְמִיד. שְׁנֵיהֶם חֲכָמִים שְׁנֵיהֶם תַּלְמִידִים שְׁנֵיהֶם עַמֵּי הָאָרֶץ שָׁאֲלוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם בִּשְׁתֵּי הֲלָכוֹת אוֹ בִּשְׁתֵּי תְּשׁוּבוֹת אוֹ בִּשְׁתֵּי שְׁאֵלוֹת שְׁנֵי מַעֲשִׂים. הָרְשׁוּת בְּיַד הַמְתַרְגֵּם מֵעַתָּה:

Concerning two who ask questions. One asked on the subject and the other asked not on the subject, attention should be paid to the subject; about a rule of practice and about a matter not touching practice, attention should be paid to practice; law and homiletics, attention should be paid to law; homiletics and legend, attention should be paid to homiletics; legend and inference from minor to major, attention should be paid to minor and major; inference from minor to major and inference from a similarity of phrases, attention should be paid to the inference from minor to major. If, of the two questioners, one was a master and the other a student, attention should be paid to the master; a student and an ignoramous, attention should be paid to the student; if both were masters, or both students, or both ignoramouses, or both ask two treatises, or two responses, or two questions concerning two rules of practice, the interpreter has discretionary powers under such circumstances.

9 ט

אֵין יְשֵׁנִים בְּבֵית הַמִּדְרָשׁ וְכָל הַמִּתְנַמְנֵם בְּבֵית הַמִּדְרָשׁ חָכְמָתוֹ נַעֲשֵׂית קְרָעִים קְרָעִים. וְכֵן אָמַר שְׁלֹמֹה בְּחָכְמָתוֹ (משלי כג כא) "וּקְרָעִים תַּלְבִּישׁ נוּמָה". וְאֵין מְשִׂיחִין בְּבֵית הַמִּדְרָשׁ אֶלָּא בְּדִבְרֵי תּוֹרָה בִּלְבַד. אֲפִלּוּ מִי שֶׁנִּתְעַטֵּשׁ אֵין אוֹמְרִים לוֹ רְפוּאָה בְּבֵית הַמִּדְרָשׁ וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר שְׁאָר הַדְּבָרִים. וּקְדֻשַּׁת בֵּית הַמִּדְרָשׁ חֲמוּרָה מִקְּדֻשַּׁת בָּתֵּי כְּנֵסִיּוֹת:

It is not permitted to sleep in the Beth Hamedrash, and whosoever drowses in the Beth Hamedrash, his wisdom becomes torn rags; for even so Solomon in his wisdom said: "And drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags" (Prov. 23. 21). No conversation is permitted in the Beth Hamedrash save in words of Torah. Even one who sneezed, it is not said to him: "May it be a cure to you," in the Beth Hamedrash; needless to mention other kind of conversation. The sacredness of the Beth Hamedrash is of greater force than the sacredness of synagogues.9Megillah, 28a; Ibid. 26b; Abodah Zarah, 71b; Sukkah, 28a; Sanhedrin, 70b; Berakot, 23b. C. G.