The child arrives like a mystery box…
with puzzle pieces inside
some of the pieces are broken or missing…
and others just seem to hide
But the HEART of a teacher can sort them out…
and help the child to see
the potential for greatness he has within…
a picture of what he can be
Her goal isn’t just to teach knowledge…
by filling the box with more parts
it’s putting the pieces together…
and creating a work of art
by Paula Fox
The opening paragraph of Shema teaches us, “You shall teach them thoroughly to your children, and you shall speak of them while you sit in your home, while you walk on the way, when you retire and when you arise (Devarim 6:7).” I’ve met many people who teach and speak words of Torah, bit I guess they are stuck in the first paragraph because the second paragraph of Shema, in this week’s portion, reads, “You shall teach them to your children to discuss them (11:19).” Our job is not finished when we’ve taught Torah; we are obligated to teach Torah so that our children will love it enough to discuss Torah ideas, “while you sit in your home, while you walk on the way, when you retire and when you arise.”
Does this paragraph instruct us how to teach our children so that they will discuss the ideas conveyed?
But, of course: “Then I shall provide the rain of your Land (Verse 14),” becomes, “the rain of the heavens (Verse 17).” We are instructed to convey Torah so that the child can possess it and feel as if it is his. It is only as punishment when things are not ours, but Heaven’s!
People point out that I ‘forgot’ to put my name in some of my sefarim. “My father doesn’t let me put my name in that book!” They don’t understand.
One of my sisters gave me bookplates for my sefarim as a bar mitzvah gift. I couldn’t wait to paste them in all the books I received as gifts, but my father zt”l confiscated them. “You will feel much better if you only place the bookplate in the sefer after you’ve made it yours,” he said.
I was confused. The sefarim were mine, at least the ones my father allowed me to keep (but that’s a different story). “They are mine,” I insisted.
My father took out a volume of the responsa of Rabbi Akiva Eiger and asked me if I knew what it was. “It’s Rav Akiva Eiger!”
“What does it say?” he asked. “It’s Rav Akiva Eiger’s sefer now. Once you learn from it, think about it and use the ideas, it will become yours. When you are able to talk about the sefer’s ideas is when you should put you name in it. Your sefarim stamp should be a sign of real possession; one about which you can be proud.”
I still won’t place my bookplates in a new sefer until I have learned from it and used its ideas. I learned how to make a sefer my own.
My father was the Torah teacher as artist, my role model for how to teach Torah so that my children and students will discuss their Torah.
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