Acquiring Torah 23: Teaching to Honor
Our Rabbis learned: What was the procedure of the instruction in the oral law? Moses learned from the mouth of the Omnipotent. Then Aaron entered and Moses taught him his lesson. Aaron then moved aside and sat down on Moses’ left. Thereupon Aaron’s sons entered and Moses taught them their lesson. His sons then moved aside, Eleazar taking his seat on Moses’ right and Itamar on Aaron’s left.
Rabbi Judah stated: Aaron was always on Moses right. Thereupon the elders entered and Moses taught them their lesson, and when the elders moved aside all the people entered and Moses taught them their lesson. It thus followed that Aaron heard the lesson four times, his sons heard it three times, the elders twice and all the people once.
At this stage Moses departed and Aaron taught them his lesson. Then Aaron departed and his sons taught them their lesson. His sons then departed and the elders taught them their lesson. It thus followed that everybody heard the lesson four times.
From here Rabbi Eliezer inferred: It is a man’s duty to teach his pupil [his lesson] four times. Aaron who learned from Moses who had it from the Omnipotent had to
learn his lesson four times how much more so an ordinary pupil who learns from an ordinary teacher.
Rabbi Akiba stated: From where is it deduced that a man must go on teaching his pupil until he has mastered the subject? From Scripture where it says: “And teach it to the children of Israel (Devarim 31:19).”
And from where is it deduced that it must be taught until the students are well versed in it? From Scripture where it says, “Put it in their mouths.”
And from where is it inferred that it is also his duty to explain to him the reasons? It has been said: “Now these are the ordinances which thou shalt put before them (Exodus 21:1).”
But why did they not all learn direct from Moses?
In order to give a share of the honor (of instructing) to Aaron, his sons, and the elders. Then why was not this procedure adopted?
Aaron might enter and learn from Moses, his sons might then enter and learn from Aaron, then the elders might enter and learn from his sons and these finally might teach all Israel?
As Moses learned from the mouth of the Omnipotent his own teaching was of greater value. (Eiruvin 54b)
Torah must be taught in a manner that will allow the student to teach what he has studied, not only to perfect the learning, but to allow him the opportunity to have the honor of teaching.
The Torah must be taught with its reasons so that the students will understand and be able to teach.
The teacher must give over Torah in a way that will bring clarity and honor to his student.
Only then can the teacher convey Torah so that the student experiences Torah as Moshe, who learned directly from God, teaching him. Only then will there be the true chain of the transmission of Torah from God to the student.