Thursday, September 24, 2020 -
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48 Ways to Acquire the Torah: Way #44

Pirkei Avot, “Ethics of the Fathers,” states in chapter 6:6: “The Torah is acquired in 48 ways.” This week: Way #44, “Studying in Order to Teach.”

To study the Torah in order to teach it is more than a responsibility. It is a way to avoid cheating oneself.

“From all of my students I have become wise,” said King David.

Students surprise a teacher. What is simple to the teacher may be difficult for the student, but the opposite is also true. What is difficult for the teacher may be obvious to the student. To teach is to learn — to acquire the Torah. To teach is be open to new possibilities.

I am addicted to rewriting. In trying to elucidate the comments of the Vilna Gaon (1720-1798) on Jewish law, I rewrite the same page up to 74 times (the computer counts). My goal is to teach. But when I ask a learned colleague to review my work, I am taught. He finds an error or a point I overlooked; he refers me to sources I was unaware of, or finds some of my phrasing awkward. He teaches me.

Nothing can duplicate the experience of the classroom in which ideas reverberate, gaps in knowledge are filled, creative approaches are generated. The student is changed. So is the teacher. When the topic is the Torah, the interaction is not only exciting, it is holy.

The 44th way to acquire the Torah: Studying In Order To Teach.

Hillel Goldberg

IJN Executive Editor |

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