So did Moshe Rabbeinu, our greatest teacher, set homework? Part 3 | Rabbi Dovid Abenson

The Gemara in Eruvin 54b explains how the Mesorah was handed down. Moshe learned directly from Hashem. Aaron entered, and Moshe gave over the lesson he had heard orally. Aaron moved aside and sat to Moshe’s left.

Aaron’s sons entered and sat while Moshe gave over the lesson to them, orally. Aaron listened. Aaron’s sons then move aside. The elders entered and Moshe gave them their lesson, orally. Aaron and Aaron’s sons listen to the lesson. Finally, the elders moved aside and the entire nation entered. Moshe taught them the lesson, while the elders, Aaron’s sons, and Aaron all listened. At this point Aaron had heard the lesson four times, his sons heard it three times, the elders heard it twice and the nation once.

Moshe then departed to his tent, and Aaron taught the others his lesson as he had learned it from Moses. Aaron then departed and his sons taught the others their lesson. His sons then departed and the elders taught the rest of the people their lesson. Hence everyone, Aaron, his sons, the elders, and all the people, heard the lesson taught to Moshe by Hashem four times. orally.

From our greatest teacher, we see the importance of giving over the material orally in such a way that the student becomes capable of transmitting it to others. The emphasis is on repetition and true clarity, receiving the Mesorah directly from teachers.

Rabbi Akiva taught that a person is obligated to teach his student until he learns the material and understands it. He derives this approach from Moshe Rabbeinu. As it is stated: “Now, therefore, write this song for you, and teach it to the children of Israel; put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel” (Devarim 31:19). This verse indicates that one must teach Torah to others. “Put it in their mouths,” refers to organizing the material so that it can be expressed clearly to others. All were taught orally (Pesachim 6b).

There is nothing wrong if a student enjoys learning and wants to review material at home, alone or with a parent or chavrusa. When a child truly grasps the material, he will find joy and satisfaction in reviewing the material and sharing it with others. This is similar to a person who learns to play a piece well on a musical instrument. It will be a pleasure to play it over and over. But setting mandatory homework, with consequences for non-compliance, is counterproductive to the goals of chinuch. It disrupts the peace of the home, makes Torah a “school subject” rather than “Morasha Kehillos Yaakov” and worst of all makes Torah a “chore” rather than a pleasure.


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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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