| Parshah |

Teaching and Reaching

“If a Jew decides to learn Torah only for himself, Hashem may not give it to him!”


“Until the day after the seventh week, you should count 50 days, and bring a new Minchah Korban to Hashem.”  (Vayikra 23:16)

It’s interesting to note that Pesach and Succos are listed by name in the parshah, but Shavuos is only alluded to. The Torah doesn’t even tell us we’re celebrating the giving of the Torah. Why not?
Answers the Kli Yakar: We might think we’re rejoicing yearly on Shavuos to commemorate receiving the Torah the year we left Mitzrayim. But in fact, we must rejoice about receiving the Torah every day, as if we’ve just received it for the first time.
Every time Jews engage in Torah, a new Matan Torah takes place. The insights we produce ourselves, our chiddushim, are examples of how Hashem is continuously giving us the Torah. It’s a chesed of Hashem that He personally gives over His Torah to those who invest the efforts to receive it. (Rabbi Moshe Krieger, Bircas HaTorah)

For close to two decades, I used to be A Teacher, and I loved every minute in front of the classroom. But as life grew busier and the kids grew older, I realized that while I might be reaching many neshamos, there were other neshamos at home who could only be reached by their mother.

So I bid goodbye to the classroom, packed up years of notes, ideas, and worksheets, and concentrated on being A Mommy.

Just as Hashem is always giving us Torah, we are expected to give it over to others as well. One of the 48 ways by which the Torah is acquired (Pirkei Avos 6) is “learning in order to teach.”
Rav Finkel cites the Maharal, stating that this is one of our main purposes for learning Torah.  The word “Torah” is a derivative of “hora’ah” — i.e., “teaching” or “lesson.”
The Maharal goes so far as to say that if a Jew decides to learn Torah only for himself, Hashem may not give it to him! He may not be worthy of understanding on his own merit, but if he shares his Torah with others, that adds to his zechus. Even Moshe Rabbeinu’s Torah was only given to him in order for it to be transmitted to Klal Yisrael (Rashi, Shemos 32:7).

This doesn’t mean that everyone has to find a classroom full of students. Discussion with a chavrusa, sharing an idea, and teaching our children are all examples of hora’ah.

This past Shevii shel Pesach was a storming, hailing, howling day. Coming on the heels of a week of Yom Tov, it was a challenge to keep a bunch of boys occupied and relatively calm in the daled amos of their siblings, with no  possible escape outdoors.

As we headed to the dining room to start the seudah, Avi and Binyamin raced each other, vying to get the better seat at the table. Avi slid safely into the coveted chair, outrunning Binyamin by a mere margin.

Laughing, Binyamin collapsed sideways into the second chair, banging the third chair, which slid across the floor, which banged into the metal kitchen chair earmarked for my grandson… which flipped over and hit the sliding glass patio door… which immediately cracked in half. (Modern-day Chad Gadya?)

Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel required his students to present chaburos on a regular basis. Moreover, he sent older, more experienced students to attend these chaburos and assist in their progress. Some of them objected, wanting to focus on their own learning. Rav Finkel answered, “Your own learning depends on working with younger students.”

As the glass splintered, all eyes turned to me, and I was faced with a split-second choice. That door was expensive! I so badly wanted to move into mussar mode and lecture on how due to their boisterous behavior, I was going to have to replace the glass, blah blah blah.

But essentially, no one had done anything wrong. There was no premeditated behavior that sparked that course of events. What was the point in remonstrating? And seriously, I told myself, that was an amazing sequence of science, velocity, and celerity. It started tickling my funny bone and in a snap decision, I let a giggle escape.

“Did you see that? Did you plan that?” I began to laugh. “Is there any way in the world you’d be able to pull that off again?”

Relieved, everyone at the table exploded in mirth as we all began to laugh — really the best reaction to such a ridiculous relay of repercussions.

It was, I hope, A Teachable Moment.


 (Originally featured in Family First, Issue 841)

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