The Torah Teacher’s Manual V
In continuation of last week’s article, we will discuss pesukim dealing with the
lighting of the Menorah.
As a reminder, the
lighting of the Menorah alludes to Torah, for the Torah is compared to oil. Just
as oil lights up its physical surroundings, so too, Torah enlightens a
person—student—with spiritual awareness. (Devorim Rabba 7:3. See also
Gemora Sanhedrin 24a.)
ויקחו אליך —The
oil had to be first brought to Moshe, for just as the other six candles were lit
from the western candle which was never extinguished, so too, in Moshe’s
generation and forever after, talmidei chochomim draw their Torah from
Moshe Rabeinu without Moshe’s Torah being diminished in the slightest. (Kli
Yakar Parshas Titzaveh).
We can learn from the
above that a Rebbe, who stands in place of Moshe Rabeinu as a teacher of Torah,
should not diminish his standing in the eyes of his students in the slightest.
He should not discuss his personal life, status or feelings with his students
which might suggest any lacking on his part.
A Rebbe should not, for
example, complain to his students about his lack of sleep, his splitting
headache or his overdraft in the bank. Any lessening of his status in the eyes
of his students, will lessen his ability to relay his message to them. In short,
a Rebbe’s personal life should be completely separated from his role as teacher
and guide to his students.
The respect a Rebbe
receives from his students is paramount, for he is their preceding link in the
chain of the transmission of Torah from generation to generation.
Rav Moshe Sternbuch,
shlita, in Ta’am Vada’as (Parshas Titzaveh) explains that oil brought to
Moshe Rabeinu symbolized the need to receive Torah as part of an unbroken chain
and that a student should not ignore his Rebbe’s teachings and invent new ways
to learn and fulfill Torah. A Rebbe should conduct himself in a manner which
ensures this transmission takes place.
Why does the Torah emphasize the importance of “taking” the oil?
Should it not have simply commanded, “bring” the oil?
Answer: Let us suggest the
following: “Taking” alludes to a four-stage process involved in bringing the
oil. The stages are: intention, taking, bringing and giving. These can be
aligned with the four steps in bringing a korban: slaughtering,
receiving, carrying and tossing the blood.
This is so, for just as
the act of bringing a korban brings one close to Hashem, so too, the
learning of Torah brings one close to Hashem.
Accordingly, there are
four stages which a student must go through in order to succeed in his learning
and come “close to Torah.” The stages are:
“Slaughtering”—or pushing aside
distractions and desires in order to concentrate on learning.
Receiving – or accepting upon
himself in theory and in practice the obligations and workload of his class.
Bringing – or effort exerted in his
learning and behavior, and
Tossing – or putting in the
necessary effort to achieve good results, whether it be extensive review or
By beginning at the stage
of “taking,” the Torah is hinting that one can not skip one of above stages. In
addition, it teaches that the student should have the last stage in mind when
beginning the first stage. This intensifies the student’s feeling of obligation,
for he knows that not only is he expected to achieve in his learning and
behavior, but he has to do so in front of his Rebbe, as the posuk states
אליךThis brings the child to be more
diligent in his work, as he knows he will have to confront and explain himself
to his Rebbe. Also, it instills fear of his teacher and fear of Torah in the
child which is a necessary ingredient in his development as a ben-Torah.
David Hamelech capsulized
the idea of fearing one’s Rebbe in Tehillim (2:11) in saying"עבדו
את ה’ ביראה וגילו ברעדה" (Serve Hashem
in fear and rejoice in trembling.)
Rav Ada bar Masna (Gemora
Yoma 4b) asks what the apparently contradictory phrase of “rejoice in
trembling” refers to and answers (according to Rashi’s explanation) thatגילה
—rejoicing— refers to Torah, which
fills a person with simcha, which should be learned with
The essence of Torah is
simcha or ahava, but it only penetrates a person through fear of
Hashem. This is similar to the Sefas Emes who explains that both yira
and ahava are needed to perform a mitzvah. Yira is used
in preparing to do the mitzvah and ahava when actually performing
In order for a Rebbe’s
Torah to penetrate the bones of his students, he must instill a certain fear in
them. He should make demands of his students which help to maintain a constant
level of fear of him and of Torah learning. This is the necessary path a student
must take in order to truly rejoice in his Torah as he matures.
The concept of yira
is one of giving a part of oneself. This is an important lesson to be taught to
students, as can be seen in the following understandings of
23:3). Just as one has to offer money or barter for an item in order to acquire
it, so too, one has to offer his own efforts in order to acquire Torah. This
includes ignoring the call of the yetzer hora and properly investing one’s time
in Torah learning.
Similarly, the need for
acquisition implies not to take without permission—גזל.
So too, in Torah learning, one should not take the Torah with false intention—גזל דעת—without intent
to fulfill, but rather one should learn on condition to fulfill whenever
…to be continued