Are You A Child?

News on August 8th, 2017 No Comments

Shalom aleichem!

“And you shall teach them to your children and you should speak about them; when you are seated in your home and when you are traveling along the way, when you are lying down and when you are traveling” (Deut. 6:7).

Rashi: “‘Your children’ refers to one’s students.”

Why does Rashi diverge from the seemingly straightforward meaning of the word לבניך / levanecha? As far as I know, the word translates as “to your children,” not students!

Rashi’s commentary throughout is geared for anyone to understand — even a five-year-old who is just beginning his or her studies. The system of Rashi is “Jewish Jeopardy,” if you will. That is, he writes the answer to a question that the student of the text may have, and it is up to us to figure out the question.

So in this instance, with Rashi’s statement that “‘your children’ refers to one’s students,” he is anticipating a question. Yet what is the question?

The question is: A student, especially one who is just beginning to study, may wonder, Why is it that the Torah says that parents are obligated to teach their children, yet here I am learning with a teacher, and not my parent!

And it’s a good question. After all, when the Torah requires that parents educate their child, it does not mean that the parents must do all of the actual teaching; in most instances, parents hire a teacher for their children. But the young student probably doesn’t understand that, yet.

Rashi therefore departed from the literal translation, in order to resolve the curiosity of the student who wonders why their parent is not their teacher.

Of course, there are many elements to education, formal and otherwise. May we all — and may our children, too! — be blessed with good teachers!

Shabbat Shalom,
Shaul

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