Did Moshe Rabbeinu Set Homework? Part 6 | Rabbi Dovid Abenson

For students to understand the rebbi, it is crucial for the rebbi to be able to express himself clearly and concisely. We see this in the Gemara.

כִּדְאָמַר רַב הוּנָא אָמַר רַב, וְאָמְרִי לַהּ, אָמַר רַב הוּנָא אָמַר רַב מִשּׁוּם רַבִּי מֵאִיר: לְעוֹלָם יִשְׁנֶה אָדָם לְתַלְמִידוֹ דֶּרֶךְ קְצָרָה.

As Rav Huna said that Rav said, and some say it was Rav Huna who said that Rav said in the name of Rabbi Meir: A person should always teach his student in a concise manner(orally). Rashi writes there ללמדך אדם שישנה לתלמידו לשון קצרה לפי שמתקיית גירסא שלה יותר מן הארוכה A person shall teach his students concisely because of a expression of conciseness is more readily retained then a long one.(Pesachim 3b). Which means the exact translation is not over-expressed. That is exactly Rashi’s own approach.

Successful teaching also depends on not pushing ahead with material before fundamental skills are acquired. I have written about this at length in previous articles. Many“learning difficulties” that we witness in our classrooms today could actually be avoided if we would heed the sages’ own advice regarding when to start teaching Torah subjects (Pirkei Avos 5:25)

הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, בֶּן חָמֵשׁ שָׁנִים לַמִּקְרָא, בֶּן עֶשֶׂר לַמִּשְׁנָה, בֶּן שְׁלשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה לַמִּצְוֹת, בֶּן חֲמֵשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה לַתַּלְמוּד, בֶּן שְׁמֹנֶה עֶשְׂרֵה לַחֻפָּה,

He used to say: At five years of age the study of Scripture; At ten the study of Mishnah; At thirteen subject to the commandments; At fifteen the study of Talmud; At eighteen the bridal canopy.

In contrast to this derech, yeshivos are starting Gemara earlier and earlier. The brightest students do well, but many fall behind because they have not yet had sufficient time to internalize the fundamental skills required for successful Gemara learning. The students who fall behind feel like failures. They often become disillusioned with Torah and eventually the whole Torah lifestyle that places so much emphasis on success in learning. Tragically, the schools’ competitive quest for excellence comes at the expense of many precious neshamos.

Written tests and objective grading are not appropriate methods for Torah learning. Rebbi’s would do better to take the time to orally assess each student to monitor his progress and see where he needs more help. By following our sages rather than the educational practices of the non-Jews, many of the issues we face today in our Jewish schools would be eliminated.


ASK THE RABBI is a new forum where readers are welcome to submit all questions on subjects regarding Jewish education to Rabbi Abenson and he will answer them in a timely fashion through TheLakewoodScoop.

Rabbi Dovid Abenson can be contacted at: Tel. 15147393629, Cell/Whatsapp 15149935300, Email: [email protected].

Rabbi Abenson is the founder and director of ShaarHatalmud, a unique yeshivah-based online program, which incorporates learning all Kodesh subjects, from Kriah up to learning Gemara, Rishonim, and Shulchan Aruch. He also conducts evaluations, remediation, and training, and consults with Roshei HaYeshiva and Menahelim to improve students’ underdeveloped learning and textual skills.

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