• What do the sources tell us about the importance of education to the Jewish community?
  • In what way do the sources guide us in teaching children who need individualized instruction?
  • What is the role of teaching one’s own children vs teaching other’s children?
  • In your study, consider that Torah education could be used as a metaphor for all worldly education

(ו) וְהָי֞וּ הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֗לֶּה אֲשֶׁ֨ר אָנֹכִ֧י מְצַוְּךָ֛ הַיּ֖וֹם עַל־לְבָבֶֽךָ׃ (ז) וְשִׁנַּנְתָּ֣ם לְבָנֶ֔יךָ וְדִבַּרְתָּ֖ בָּ֑ם בְּשִׁבְתְּךָ֤ בְּבֵיתֶ֙ךָ֙ וּבְלֶכְתְּךָ֣ בַדֶּ֔רֶךְ וּֽבְשָׁכְבְּךָ֖ וּבְקוּמֶֽךָ׃ (ח) וּקְשַׁרְתָּ֥ם לְא֖וֹת עַל־יָדֶ֑ךָ וְהָי֥וּ לְטֹטָפֹ֖ת בֵּ֥ין עֵינֶֽיךָ׃ (ט) וּכְתַבְתָּ֛ם עַל־מְזוּזֹ֥ת בֵּיתֶ֖ךָ וּבִשְׁעָרֶֽיךָ׃ (ס)

(6) Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day. (7) Impress them upon your children. Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. (8) Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead; (9) inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.


  • Why might something (knowledge, belief, skill) have to be in your heart before you can teach it to others?
  • What does it mean to teach something “diligently?”
  • Why would talking about something in your home, outside your home, from morning to night help you learn it? Teach it?

Challenges to Grapple With:

  • Do you think it is obsessive or overkill to talk about/think about/teach something with this much effort? Why or why not?
(ו) חֲנֹ֣ךְ לַ֭נַּעַר עַל־פִּ֣י דַרְכּ֑וֹ גַּ֥ם כִּֽי־יַ֝זְקִ֗ין לֹֽא־יָס֥וּר מִמֶּֽנָּה׃

(6) Train a lad according to his way; He will not swerve from it even in old age.


  • What does educating a child “according to his way” mean?
  • Why might educating a child in the manner s/he best learns result in a life-long learning?
  • What is the impact on a teacher who needs to consider this for each of his/her students?

Challenges to Grapple With:

  • An alternate translation to this text is "Provide mentorship to the youth according to his/her avenue, so when s/he is old, s/he won’t go away from it." How might this change your understanding of this text?
  • Consider your own learning style – how do you best learn? What happens when you are forced to learn in a manner that isn’t congruent?

    (א) מוֹשִׁיבִין מְלַמְּדֵי תִּינוֹקוֹת בְּכָל מְדִינָה וּמְדִינָה וּבְכָל פֶּלֶךְ וּפֶלֶךְ וּבְכָל עִיר וָעִיר. וְכָל עִיר שֶׁאֵין בָּהּ תִּינוֹקוֹת שֶׁל בֵּית רַבָּן מַחְרִימִין אֶת אַנְשֵׁי הֵעִיר עַד שֶׁמּוֹשִׁיבִין מְלַמְּדֵי תִּינוֹקוֹת. וְאִם לֹא הוֹשִׁיבוּ מַחְרִימִין אֶת הָעִיר. שֶׁאֵין הָעוֹלָם מִתְקַיֵּם אֶלָּא בְּהֶבֶל פִּיהֶם שֶׁל תִּינוֹקוֹת שֶׁל בֵּית רַבָּן:

    (1) It is mandatory to appoint school teachers for small children in each and every state, in each and every province, and in each and every city. Any city wherein there are no children flocking to a master's house, the inhabitants thereof should be excommunicated until they do appoint teachers for the school children, if they then make no such appointment an excommunication should be pronounced against the city itself; for the world cannot endure save only by the fervent recitation of school children in the house of their master.


    • How local/close/accessible should education be to children according to this source?
    • What does “ostracize” mean? And why would a village be ostracized for not having a teacher?
    • What does it say about education if a village should be “destroyed” if there are no teachers within it?
    • What does it mean that the “world exists only by the virtue of the breath coming from the mouths of children who study?”
    • Who else learns when children speak about what they are learning?

    Challenges to Grapple With:

    • Consider small-towns (country farms) in America and that it might take a child over an hour to get to school each way. Do you think people should be allowed to live far from education sources? Why or why not?

    The following source specifies a father's educational (and other) obligations towards his son but for our conversation we can assume that this is a broader discussion of the obligations of all parents to all children regardless of gender.

    תנינא להא דת"ר האב חייב בבנו למולו ולפדותו וללמדו תורה ולהשיאו אשה וללמדו אומנות וי"א אף להשיטו במים רבי יהודה אומר כל שאינו מלמד את בנו אומנות מלמדו ליסטות ליסטות ס"ד אלא כאילו מלמדו ליסטות:
    The Gemara comments: According to this interpretation, we learn in this mishna that which the Sages taught in a baraita: A father is obligated with regard to his son to circumcise him, and to redeem him if he is a firstborn son who must be redeemed by payment to a priest, and to teach him Torah, and to marry him to a woman, and to teach him a trade. And some say: A father is also obligated to teach his son to swim. Rabbi Yehuda says: Any father who does not teach his son a trade teaches him banditry [listut]. The Gemara expresses surprise at this statement: Can it enter your mind that he actually teaches him banditry? Rather, the baraita means that it is as though he teaches him banditry. Since the son has no profession with which to support himself, he is likely to turn to theft for a livelihood. This baraita accords with Rav Yehuda’s interpretation of the mishna.


    • What are the top five things this text says are a parent (father) obligation to a child (son)? What is the sixth?
    • What does it mean to “redeem him?” (Clue: Google Pidyon haBen)
    • How does education play out in three of these of the six?
    • What does Rabbi Yehuda say will likely happen if a child is not taught a trade?
    • Overall, why do you think the Gemara suggests that parents have these obligations to children?

    Challenges to Grapple With:

    • Consider a parent who doesn’t know (or physically cannot) teach their child a trade or to swim – what do you think is then his/her obligation?
    אמר רבי שמואל בר נחמני א"ר יונתן כל המלמד בן חבירו תורה מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו ילדו שנאמר (במדבר ג, א) ואלה תולדות אהרן ומשה וכתיב ואלה שמות בני אהרן לומר לך אהרן ילד ומשה לימד לפיכך נקראו על שמו

    Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani says that Rabbi Yonatan says: Anyone who teaches another person’s son Torah, the verse ascribes him credit as if he sired him, as it is stated: “Now these are the generations of Aaron and Moses” (Numbers 3:1), and it is written immediately afterward: “And these are the names of the sons of Aaron: Nadav the firstborn and Avihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar” (Numbers 3:2), but it does not mention the names of Moses’ children. This serves to say to you that Aaron sired his children, but Moses taught them Torah. Therefore, the children were also called by his name.


    • What does “sire” mean?
    • What value does Judaism place on educators if they are elevated to the role of parent?
    • Have you experienced a relationship with a teacher where they seemed almost parental? Did you experience that as a positive relationship?


      1. Teaching others' children

      אמר ריש לקיש כל המלמד את בן חבירו תורה מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו עשאו שנאמר (בראשית יב, ה) ואת הנפש אשר עשו בחרן

      Reish Lakish said: With regard to anyone who teaches Torah to the son of another, the verse ascribes him credit as though he formed that student, as it is stated: “And Abram took Sarai his wife…and the souls that they formed in Haran” (Genesis 12:5). They are given credit for forming the students to whom they taught Torah.

      (ב) כְּשֵׁם שֶׁחַיָּב אָדָם לְלַמֵּד אֶת בְּנוֹ כָּךְ הוּא חַיָּב לְלַמֵּד אֶת בֶּן בְּנוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ד ט) "וְהוֹדַעְתָּם לְבָנֶיךָ וְלִבְנֵי בָנֶיךָ". וְלֹא בְּנוֹ וּבֶן בְּנוֹ בִּלְבַד אֶלָּא מִצְוָה עַל כָּל חָכָם וְחָכָם מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל לְלַמֵּד אֶת כָּל הַתַּלְמִידִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינָן בָּנָיו. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ו ז) "וְשִׁנַּנְתָּם לְבָנֶיךָ" מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ בָּנֶיךָ אֵלּוּ תַּלְמִידֶיךָ שֶׁהַתַּלְמִידִים קְרוּיִין בָּנִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (מלכים ב ב ג) "וַיֵּצְאוּ בְנֵי הַנְּבִיאִים".

      (2) Even as man is obliged to instruct his son, so is he obliged to teach his son's son, for it is said: "But make them known to thy sons and thy sons' sons" (Ibid. 4.9); and, not alone to his son and his son's son, but each and every scholar in Israel is commanded to instruct all who desire to be his disciples, even though they be not his sons, for it is said: "And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children" (Ibid. 6.7.), which is traditionally interpreted to include one's disciples; for disciples, too, are called children, as it is said: "And the sons of the prophets came forth" (Second Kings, 2.3.).

      2. Modern research

      2016 Pew Research Center Study on Religion and Education around the World

      Nearly all Jews have had some formal schooling – with an average of more than 13 years of formal schooling. This is four more years of schooling on average than the next-most educated group – Christians. Jews have the highest rate of higher education — 75 percent– compared with 40 percent of Americans generally. It’s not just American Jews as Jewish Israelis have an average of 12 years of schooling, and 46 percent have had higher education.