Parents' Accomplishments Help Their Children
To the extent that parents sacrifice themselves for Torah,
they blaze a trail for their children to follow and it
becomes easier for future generations to take the path of
life — "Torah will return to a place where it
previously found lodging." The purpose of all the trials that
Avrohom Ovinu underwent was to pave the path of decent and
upright living for his future descendants. This is why we
find that many simple Jews have given their lives up to
sanctify Hashem's Name. They received the ability to do this
from Avrohom Ovinu.
One of Yisro's names was Chovav. Chazal tell us that he was
known by this name mipnei shechiveiv es haTorah,
because he cherished Torah. Moshe Rabbenu promised Yisro,
"When you travel on with us [into Eretz Yisroel], we will
benefit you from the good that Hashem will bestow upon us"
(Bamidbor 10:29). Chazal tell us that Yisro's
descendants were given "the choice area of Yericho" in
fulfillment of this promise.
The posuk (Shofetim 1:16) tells us, "The sons of
Keini, father-in-law of Moshe came up from the City of Palms
[Yericho] to the sons of Yehuda in the desert of Yehuda . . .
and they sat with the people [to learn Torah from Osniel ben
Kenaz]." The Medrash Tanchuma (parshas Yisro) tells us
that when Yisro came to Eretz Yisroel and was given the
choice part of Yericho he said, "I only came here and left
behind everything that I had in order to learn Torah. Now
shall I sow and reap? When will I learn Torah?" They told
him, "A person can learn Torah in the city. This place is
desolate; it's a desert and there's no wheat there." When
they heard this they went, as it says, "And the sons of
Keini, father-in-law of Moshe came up from the City of Palms
[Yericho] to the bnei Yehuda in the desert of Yehuda . . .
and they sat with the people." They went and found Yaavetz
[Osniel ben Kenaz] there, sitting in the beis
Yisro abandoned all his wealth and all the good things that
he had. "And Yisro heard" (Shemos 18:1) — he
heard and came. Now Yisro's descendants were arguing that if
they sowed and reaped they'd have no time to learn Torah.
When they heard that Yaavetz was in the southern part of the
country sitting in the beis hamedrash learning Torah,
they left the City of Palms, the fat land of Yericho and went
into the desolation of the desert to Osniel ben Kenaz to
The ambitions of Yisro's descendants were realized. "Yisro's
descendants merited sitting in the Lishkas Hagozis" [where
the Sanhedrin sat] as the posuk says, "And families of
scholars that dwelt with Yaavetz . . . these are the Keinim .
. ." and the posuk says, "the sons of Keini, father-in-
law of Moshe came up from the City of Palms . . .and they sat
with the people" (Sanhedrin 104). The Gemora
tells us further that Yaavetz and Osniel ben Kenaz are
the same person (Temuroh 16).
To leave the City of Palms and travel to the desert in order
to learn Torah seems quite an exceptional thing to have done.
Yisro's descendants chose the path of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai
who said, "Can one possibly sow in the sowing season and reap
at harvest time? [If so] what will become of Torah?"
(Brochos 35). Yisro's descendants thirsted strongly
Chazal (Sotah 11) tell us that Pharaoh had three
advisors: Bilaam, Iyov and Yisro. Bilaam advised him to
enslave bnei Yisroel and was ultimately killed. Iyov
remained silent and was punished with suffering. Yisro fled
because he opposed Pharaoh's approach, and he merited
descendants who sat in the Chamber of Hewn Stone. Although
many nations heard what Hashem did to the Egyptians, they
ultimately remained unmoved. Only Yisro heard what had
happened and immediately came. Because he took positive
action, he is known as Chovav, who cherished the Torah.
This trait of self-sacrifice later resurfaced among his
descendants. They also abandoned a choice portion of land and
went to the desert to study Torah from Osniel ben Kenaz. In
that merit, Yisro's later descendants merited sitting in the
To the extent that a person sacrifices himself for Torah he
paves the path for his later descendants and it becomes
easier for future generations to choose the path of life. In
the same way, Chazal tell us, "Torah will return to a place
where it previously found lodging." This is a well-known
teaching of Rav Chaim of Volozhin ztvk'l.
The mishnah (Ovos 5:3) tells us, "Avrohom Ovinu was
tested with ten trials." Rav Chaim of Volozhin explains why
this mishnah refers to Avrohom as Ovinu, our
forefather, while the previous mishnah, which speaks
about the "ten generations from Noach to Avrohom," mentions
only his name without any title. Rav Chaim bases his
explanation on the posuk, "One who goes [through life]
without guile is righteous; happy are his sons who follow
him" (Mishlei 20:7). The traits that a tzaddik
toils and works to attain are present in his offspring's
nature and they can acquire them with minimal effort.
The purpose of all the tests that Avrohom Ovinu had to
withstand was to pave the path of upright and decent behavior
for the descendants who followed him. That is why there have
been many unscholarly Jews who have given up their lives to
sanctify Hashem's Name. When the mishnah speaks about
these trials therefore, it refers to Avrohom as Ovinu,
our father. We, his children, are able to draw upon the
strengths that his withstanding these trials implanted within
us, making it easier for us to withstand our own trials and
take the proper path in life.
At the end of maseches Makkos, the mishnah
says, "If a person receives a reward for refraining from
consuming blood, for which one naturally feels revulsion, how
much greater is the merit for refraining from robbery and
immorality which a person desires and would dearly like to
engage in. One merits reward for his direct descendants, for
their descendants, until the end of all generations."
The Kli Yokor writes, "Here [in the prohibition
against consuming blood, the Torah] specifies, `and for your
sons who follow you' (Devorim 12:25) because blood
instills the trait of cruelty into whoever consumes it and a
father's character passes on to his children and their
descendants, in turn, resemble them. Thus, the Torah states,
`If you don't eat blood it will be good for you and for your
children after you.' "
From the reward promised by the Torah for refraining from
eating blood, the mishnah derives through a kal
vochomer that by refraining from aveiros that a
person strongly desires, he provides all the more merit for
future generations. If eating blood instills cruelty, eating
matzoh instills the positive traits that Yisroel are
commanded to acquire. So it is with all the Torah's mitzvos
— in fulfilling the mitzvos, parents pave the path for
their offspring who will follow them.
We thus see that parents' deeds and the work they invest in
order to perfect themselves assist their children.
From the Hadran on maseches Bava Metzia, Kovetz
Teshuvos vol. III, pg. 161
Some Questions Put to HaRav Eliashiv, from the Sefer
Meleches Hashem on the Laws Concerning Teachers
by Rav Y.Y. Bronstein
Q. Is a teacher allowed to hit his pupil when
necessary or should he refrain from all corporal punishment
A. The posuk says, "Train a youth according to
his path" (Mishlei ). A child must be educated in a
benevolent atmosphere — it must not become oppressive,
chas vesholom. In past times, children were under the
authority of adults. Today they are independent. Sometimes,
parents too do not understand [why their child was hit] and
they actively try to work against the talmud Torah,
which can lead to chilul Hashem, chas vesholom.
The right path must therefore be found.
Q. Should a teacher deal differently with an orphaned
pupil because of the prohibition against oppressing orphans,
or should he be treated the same as the other pupils for the
sake of his education?
A. Despite his situation he should get what he needs,
as and when necessary. But if he is dealt with too severely,
even by a tiny fraction, the prohibition is transgressed.
Q. The Shulchan Oruch (Yore Dei'ah siman
245:17) rules, "A children's teacher who leaves the
children and goes outside . . . or who is negligent with his
teaching is in the category of `cursed is he who does holy
work crookedly' (Yirmiyohu 48:10) . . ." Is a teacher
who devotes all his attention to study, without taking note
of his charges' character development also considered
A. Obviously, he is.
Whether a Father's Obligation is to Teach His Son
The Shulchan Oruch (Yore Dei'ah siman 245:6) rules, "A
father must pay for his son's tuition until he can read the
entire Written Torah, but he doesn't need to pay for him to
learn Mishnah etc."
This is in seeming contradiction to the gemora (Kiddushin
29) which says, "If he and his son both need to learn, he
comes before his son. Rabbi Yehuda says, `If his son is eager
and sharp and retains what he learns, his son takes
precedence,' like Rav Yaakov son of . . . whose father sent
him to Abaye . . ." The gemora's case is certainly not
dealing with Chumash because they went to Abaye to
study. They must have been learning halochos. But in
that case, what is there to discuss about who takes
precedence? According to the Shulchan Oruch, a father
isn't obligated to pay for his son to learn Mishnah
and Gemora at all! (See what the Shulchan Oruch
HaRav writes about this.)
The explanation seems to be as follows: The obligation to
teach one's son Torah that is learned from the posuk,
"And you shall teach them to your sons" (Devorim
11:19) certainly only applies to Scripture. The
Sifrei however derives a further requirement: " `And
you shall impart precise knowledge of them to your sons'
(Devorim 6:7) — these are your disciples."
The Sifrei explains that one's own sons take
precedence with regard to the obligation of sharpening the
Torah knowledge of disciples, since the Torah refers to
disciples as `sons.' Although this posuk is the source
of a general mitzvah to teach Torah to others, it applies
even more forcefully to a person's own offspring. It implies
an obligation to ensure that one's children have sharp and
precise Torah knowledge, even if this means that their father
will not be teaching them himself.
The only difference between these two obligations is that the
first is an explicit posuk while the second is a
general obligation from which the obligation to one's own
sons is derived by inference. The Ran (Nedorim 8)
explains that the halochoh that an oath taken to transgress a
Torah law does not take effect, only applies to laws stated
explicitly, not to those that are derived. The
gemora's query, "How much is a child's father obliged
to teach him?" (Kiddushin 30) applies only to the
first requirement that is stated explicitly in the
posuk. But the second requirement will not yet have
The gemora's response to the query, "Like Zevulun ben
Dan yet not like Zevulun ben Dan" can be understood in this
way. "Like Zevulun ben Dan, whose grandfather taught him" in
accordance with the first, explicit requirement, "yet not
like Zevulun ben Dan, who was taught Scripture, Mishnah,
Talmud, halachos and aggodos" in accordance with
the second requirement, whereas our question regarding the
limit of a father's obligation referred only to the first
requirement, which is only Scripture.
The gemora's earlier query about who takes precedence
when both a father and his son need to learn referred to the
second requirement of conveying precise Torah knowledge, as
is evident from the example of Rav Yaakov.
From shiurim on maseches Kiddushin 30