Torah study: education – Exodus 19: 8
Leviticus 21: 1 begins with God’s instruction to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them.” The Talmud declares that the dual terminology (“speak … and say”) means “command the elderly towards the young”. Here we have the Biblical source of the concept of education: our authority and duty to pass on to the next generation the wisdom and instruction we have received from our fathers.
Exodus 19: 8
And all the people answered and said, All that the Eternal hath spoken we will do; and Moses conveyed the words of the people to the Eternal.
In the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy, there are five verses known as the Shema. These are recited by the religious Jew every morning and evening. It contains five basic precepts of Judaism:
- the duty to see God as Unity.
- To love God
- study the Torah
- to tie the prayer belts (teffilien) on the arms and on the forehead
- fix the mezuzah on the door frame.
(More information about the Shema in the article: The Shema: “Hear Israel” – The Jewish Creed.)
Study of the Torah
Regarding the study of the Torah, the Shema in Deuteronomy 6: 6-7 says in the context of the duty to teach the children:
What I am commanding you today shall be on your heart, and you shall impress upon your children and speak of it when you sit in your house, when you are on the road, when you lie down, and when you get up.
The Jewish sages say that when God gave the Torah to the children of Israel on Mount Sinai, He demanded that they not forsake.
The people of Israel said, “Heaven and earth will be our guarantors.”
God said, “They won’t last forever.”
They said, “Our fathers will guarantee it.”
He said, “They are very busy.”
They said, “The children will be our guarantors.”
He said, “They are excellent guarantors.”
Teaching is the key to a people’s eternity
This is the key to eternity of a people, the guarantee that the work of a human being continues as a partner of God in creation: that each generation transmits all that it has learned and achieved towards the realization of our covenant with God to the next.
Education is a lifelong endeavor
The child must be taught and guided in the development of a moral ego that distinguishes between good and bad and never loses sight of its responsibilities to God and man. Education is a lifelong endeavor. Within ourselves there is also an ‘older’ and a ‘younger’. We have to keep learning, developing and growing. By looking at how to teach children, we learn how to teach ourselves.
Summary – questions
To check for yourself whether you have understood the text correctly, here are a number of questions. You will find the answers in the above text.
- Where is the Shema in the Torah?
- What five basic precepts of Judaism appear in the Shema?
- What Does the Shema Say About Teaching Children?
- How can the Jewish people exist forever?