Halachos for Educators

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Jews from time immemorial placed a tremendous importance on teaching Jewish children Torah because it is the key to the future of the Jewish people.[1]

Importance of Teaching

  1. The primary obligation is teaching Torah and learning Torah is a necessary step in order to teach.[2]
  2. It is extremely important that children learn Torah and we shouldn't stop them from learning in order to fulfill another mitzvah. We shouldn't interrupt children learning Torah to participate in the building of the bet hamikdash.[3]
  3. We excommunicate a city in order to ensure that it has an educator.[4]

Who can be a Teacher

  1. A single man can't be a teacher since he might become secluded with the mothers of the children he is teaching whether he is teaching girls or boys.[5] A married man can be a teacher even if he is another city.[6]
  2. A woman can't be a teacher since she might become secluded with the fathers of the children he is teaching whether he is teaching girls or boys.[7]

Need for Teachers

  1. There shouldn't be more than twenty five students for one teacher. If that teacher has an assistant he could have up to forty students.[8] However, primarily it depends on the situation.[9]
  2. A teacher who doesn't teach properly, is lazy in his work, or take another job that impedes his performance is cursed because he is doing Hashem's work deceitfully. Therefore, it is important to only appoint a teacher that is God fearing, who is skilled in language and be careful.[10]
  3. A teacher isn't supposed to be awake at night so that he isn't tired for work. He can't fast or deprive himself of food or drink since doing so will cause him not to teacher well. [11]
  4. It is important to get the best teacher of Torah and it is therefore permitted to replace one teacher with a better one.[12]
  5. If there is a teacher who can read more quickly and another teacher who is more careful they should appoint the teacher that is more careful.[13]

Speaking in a Way that the Students Understand

Rav Volbe on Parsha Ki Tisa

Teachers who Don't Prepare Properly

Yirmiyahu 48:10, Rambam Talmud Torah 2:4

Speaking Lashon Hara about Students

See Lashon Hara page.

Charging Tuition

See Laws_of_Learning_Torah#Teaching_Torah

Obligation of Parents and Grandparents

Obligation of Community

Torah Curriculum to Teach Children

  1. Generally a person should divide all of his learning into three parts, a third of his time for Tanach, a third for the Oral Torah, and a third for delving into the reasons for Torah. As a person gets older and doesn't need to spend as much time on Tanach he should spend more time on the other topics.[14] See this discussed on the Laws_of_Learning_Torah#Tanach.2C_Mishna.2C_and_Talmud page.
  2. When the child is old enough to speak a parent should teach him the Pasuk "תורה צוה לנו משה מורשה קהלת יעקב" and Shema. As he continues to learn he should learn more pesukim.[15]
  3. Chazal recommend starting a child's learning with Vayikra so that the pure innocent children learn the topics of purity.[16]
  4. There is no obligation to learn or teach Tanach to children in order. Ultimately they should be taught all of Tanach. However, when that isn't possible the school should choose certain parshiyot and perakim to learn well so that they know how to learn and everything else superficially. The hope is that the students will learn on their own when they grow up especially if they're taught to love Torah.[17]

Related Links

  1. Laws of Learning Torah

Sources

  1. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in Lessons in Leadership Parshat Bo p. 74 cited by Rabbi Rosner Bo 5779
  2. Gemara Brachot 14b, Gemara Bava Kama 17a, Ritva 14b, Pirkei Avot 4:6, Rambam Talmud Torah 1:1
  3. Gemara Shabbat 119b, Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 245:13
  4. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 245:7 and if the city still refuses, we destroy the city.
  5. Shulchan Aruch E.H. 22:20. See Pitchei Teshuva 22:13 who writes that some questioned the minhag to have a single man as a teacher.
  6. Chelkat Mechokek 22:21 states that even for a married man if the man's husband is outside the city it is a problem of yichud in case the mothers of the children come. Bet Shmuel 22:22 agrees. However, Pitchei Teshuva 22:13 cites Rabbi Akiva Eiger who cites Lechem Rav 4 who is lenient if the male teacher is married even if his wife is in another city.
  7. Shulchan Aruch E.H. 22:20
  8. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 245:15 rules that there shouldn't be more than twenty five students per teacher. If there is between twenty five and forty there needs to be a teacher with another assistant.
  9. The Shach 245:10 writes that it all depends on the situation, the quality of the teacher and students.
  10. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 245:17
  11. Rama Y.D. 245:17
  12. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 245:18
  13. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 245:19
  14. Rambam Talmud Torah 1:11, Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 246:4
  15. Sukkah 42a, Rambam Talmud Torah 1:6, Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 245:5
  16. Vayikra Rabba 7:3 establishes that children should start learning Vayikra since they are pure and should deal with matters of purity. Avot Derabbi Natan 1:6 supports this. Yalkut Yosef Chinuch Introduction cites this. Bear Heitiv 245:8 cites the Kol Bo who says that the minhag was to start with Vayikra.
  17. Aseh Lecha rav 8:58