Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Adar II 5760 - March 22, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
Principles of Education

by HaRav Nosson Einfeld

HaRav Einfeld explained the tremendous obligation that an educator has toward his students. He is like a paid shomer who is constantly on duty, like Noach who had to feed the animals in the teivah night and day. R' Yeruchom compared it to the poles of the Oron Hakodesh in the Mishkan: they had to constantly be in their supportive role of the Oron. He is given the tools to teach his students properly, and is held to a high standard of success. Furthermore, the teacher must be filled with love for his students.

Malkos Without a Strap

The Mishnah demands of us, "Let the honor of your talmid be as precious to you as your own." Without embracing this principle it is impossible to teach others Torah, as the Baal HaTurim writes on the posuk, "Now therefore, when I come to your servant my father, and the lad is not with us -- seeing that his life is bound up in the lad's life" (Bereishis 44:30). The Baal HaTurim writes that there is a similar posuk in Mishlei (22:15): "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child." This is intended to teach us that "since he is bound with foolishness, it is necessary that the educator's life be bound up in the lad's life, so that he can educate him."

How foolish it is that some educators overlook their students' feelings! They degrade them and even insult them. Not only are they disregarding what the Mishnah in Ovos writes, they are failing to obtain their objective, the aim of all teaching. They are not carrying out their shelichus and are sinning against Hashem, against the child, and against his parents.

Insulting a Jew is a lav deOraisa: "It pertains to every place and every time, both for men and women and even small children. . . . One who violates this, and, when he talks, hurts someone else, has committed this lav. There are no malkos for this lav, since it can be committed by merely talking, but are there not many malkos without a strap that the L-rd has, Who commands this?" (Chinuch 338).

We find that embarrassing another Jew is tantamount to murder, as we see from Tamar. "It is preferable that a person throw himself into a burning oven and not publicly embarrass another person" (Kesuvos 67b). Mar Ukba actually hurled himself into a blazing oven so he would not embarrass someone. The Tosafos (Sotah 10b) write that embarrassing another person is a sin that falls in the category of those which one should preferably die rather than commit (yehoreig ve'al ya'avor). It was not enumerated among the three cardinal aveiros (Sanhedrin 75a) because it is not explicitly written in the Torah. Rabbenu Yonah (Sha'arei Teshuvah 3:139) writes that embarrassing another person is an offshoot of murder. The Tosafos (Arochin 16a) write that embarrassing someone is actually defined as murder; it is a "temporary murder." The baal Aruch LaNer, in Teshuvos Binyan Tzion (172), was asked whether it is permissible for a person to save himself if by doing so another person would be embarrassed. The Aruch LaNer rules that it is forbidden!

Let Us Learn From Our Mentors

When HaRav Y. Gans eulogized Maran HaRav S.Z. Auerbach zt'l, he related that he once walked into HaRav Auerbach's room before the shiur and found him studying the Sha'arei Teshuvah. HaRav Gans asked whether that sefer had any bearing on the shiur's topic. Maran answered that it was connected with the very essence of the shiur, since talmidim sometimes speak nonsense during the shiur. He must be exceptionally careful not to answer them sharply and insult them. For this reason he studied mussar before the shiur.

It once happened that a melamed in Yeshivas Eitz Chaim brought a group of boys, aged about thirteen, to the house of Maran HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer zt'l, the author of Even HaEzel, to be tested. HaRav Meltzer asked them the meaning of a Tosafos and one of the talmidim answered without delay, but answered incorrectly.

HaRav Meltzer smiled and said: "Wonderful, you surely meant . . ." and explained to the talmid how to correctly understand the Tosafos.

The talmid expostulated: "No, Rebbe, I did not mean that!" and retold his erroneous explanation of the Tosafos. Maran said: "Oh, now I'm sure I understand! Let us see ..." and began a slow and simple explanation of the gemora from scratch, eventually reaching the kushya of the Tosafos and explaining it in a clear fashion.

The child stubbornly answered, "Why doesn't the Rav understand?" and he explained to Maran his "explanation" anew. The other children giggled and the melamed was enraged, but again for another ten minutes HaRav Meltzer patiently and clearly explained the pshat in the Tosafos. At the end he said: "Surely you meant like this," but the talmid was unyielding and responded: "No, absolutely not!"

Now that the argument was becoming unbearable, Maran suddenly got up, apologized and said: "Please excuse me. I must leave for a minute." He rose, left, and shut the door after him. The melamed was curious to see why Maran had left and silently opened the door and gazed outside. He saw the gaon walking back and forth in the hall while saying to himself: "When the Torah commands us to honor people it also means children! Honoring people includes even children!" After an extended time he returned fresh to the room, sat down, and turned cheerfully to the child: "Now, please tell me how you explain the Tosafos."

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