Teaching like Miss Frizzle... and like Rabbi Hiyya!

ריש לקיש הוה מציין מערתא דרבנן כי מטא למערתיה דר' חייא איעלמא מיניה חלש דעתיה
אמר "רבש"ע לא פלפלתי תורה כמותו?"
תה בת קול ואמרה לו "תורה כמותו פלפלת, תורה כמותו לא ריבצת" כי הוו מינצו ר' חנינא ור' חייא אמר ליה ר' חנינא לר' חייא
"בהדי דידי קא מינצית ח"ו אי משתכחא תורה מישראל מהדרנא לה מפילפולי"
אמר ליה ר' חייא לר' חנינא
"
בהדי דידי קא מינציתדעבדי לתורה דלא תשתכח מישראל מאי עבידנא אזלינא ושדינא כיתנא וגדילנא נישבי וציידנא טבי ומאכילנא בשרייהו ליתמי ואריכנא מגילתא וכתבנא חמשה חומשי וסליקנא למתא ומקרינא חמשה ינוקי בחמשה חומשי ומתנינא שיתא ינוקי שיתא סדרי ואמרנא להו עד דהדרנא ואתינא אקרו אהדדי ואתנו אהדדי ועבדי לה לתורה דלא תשתכח מישראל"
היינו דאמר רבי כמה גדולים מעשי חייא.

Resh Lakish was marking the burial caves of the Rabbis. But when he came to the grave of R. Hiyya, it was hidden from him, and he was discouraged.

'Sovereign of the Universe!' he exclaimed, 'did I not debate Torah as he did?'

Thereupon a Heavenly Voice cried out in reply:

"You did indeed debate Torah as he did, but you did not spread the Torah as he did." [And then, the Heavenly voice told a story…]

One time, R. Hanina and R. Hiyya [who were long-standing chevruta (study) partners] were in a debate. R. Hanina said to R. Hiyya:

"Would you dispute with me? If, Heaven forbid, the Torah were forgotten in Israel, I would simply restore it through my expert knowledge of the law and its details."

To which R. Hiyya responded:

"Would you dispute with me? By my actions, I actually ensured that the Torah will not be forgotten in Israel. What did I do? I went and sowed flax, made nets [from the flax cords], trapped deers, whose flesh I gave to orphans, and prepared scrolls [from their skins], upon which I wrote the five books [of the Torah]. Then I went to a town [which contained no teachers] and taught the five books to five children, and the six orders [of the Mishna] to six children And I implored them: 'Until I return, teach each other the Torah and the Mishnah;' and thus I preserved the Torah from being forgotten in Israel."

This is what Rabbi [meant when he] said, 'How great are the works of Hiyya!"

Discussion Questions:

1. What are some differences between the visions of R. Hanina and R. Hiyya for what one should do if “Torah is forgotten in Israel?”

2. In what ways is the pedagogy of Rabbi Hiyya similar to and different from what we think of as "Jewish experiential education"?

3. What tools/ methodologies do you think Rabbi Hiyya and Ms. Frizzle share?

4. Looking at the beginning of our text again, why do you think it difficult for Resh Lakish to locate R. Hiyya’s burial cave? What is the text trying to teach us by including this piece of the story?

5. How can we use this text and its messages in our work as teachers?

תנו רבנן: רבו שאמרו רבו שלמדו חכמה ולא רבו שלמדו מקרא ומשנה.

דברי ר"מ.

רבי יהודה אומר: כל שרוב חכמתו הימנו.

רבי יוסי אומר: אפילו לא האיר עיניו אלא במשנה אחת זה הוא רבו.

Our Rabbis taught: "One's Rav is defined as the individual who as taught you wisdom, and not the one who has taught you the Torah and Mishna."

This is Rabbi Meir’s opinion.

Rabbi Yehuda said: "Whoever has taught you most of their wisdom."

Rabbi Yossi said: "Even if the person did no more than make your eyes light up from an explanation of a single section of the Mishna - that person is your Rav."

Discussion Questions:

1. How are the various rabbis in our text defining a Rav (teacher)?

2. If it’s not just the oral or written law (Torah, Midrash, Talmud, etc.), then what is wisdom?

3. How do we "light up the eyes" of our students? What are the tools that we can use?