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11 Nissan 5765 - April 20, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Opinion & Comment
Tell Your Son On That Day: Some of HaRav Eliashiv's Teachings on Educating Children

Prepared by Rav Shlomo Rosenstein

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 hamedrash.

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 learn Torah.

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 for Torah.

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 Lishkas Hagozis.

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 whatsoever?

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 negligent?

A. Obviously, he is.

Whether a Father's Obligation is to Teach His Son Scripture Alone

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 been satisfied.

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

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