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Education is a Jewish value

Thursday, 19 May, 2016 - 11:58 am

AdobeStock_65467327.jpegEducation is a Jewish value. The Talmud says that the only free person is the one who toils in Torah.

With that in mind, education does not always come easily. Many a time, children, teens and adults reject the encouragement of others to study or to hold a value close to their heart. As parents, we need to teach by example; recognize that our children are looking for truth, not to be pandered to. If we do not invest time, energy and passion, it can come across as not prioritizing that value.

Several other reasons why people would reject a value are:

  1. They are not spiritual. Talk to them about a juicy steak and they understand, talk about a relationship with G-d and they think you lost your mind. Can you instill in someone the ability to be more spiritual?
  2. It would go against his or her nature to be more extroverted or introverted, to be more thinking or feelings-oriented or to be more structured or open-ended. Can you train someone to act against their nature?
  3. Can you logically explain to them the why? If it cannot be explained you cannot expect me to follow that doctrine. Can you educate someone to follow traditions that are supra-rational?

The Torah is aware that these challenges exist and therefore the Torah says: I, G-d, believe that you can 

  1. Influence the “less refined individual”,
  2. Train individuals to go against their nature and
  3. Educate others to follow the supra-rational

The Torah does this by telling us that the elders must educate the youth in three laws:

  1. “Do not eat insects” – even someone who is unrefined and eating insects – they too have spiritual values instilled in them
  2. “Do not consume blood” – it was natural to eat food with blood at that time in history – even if someone is “used to it” we can train them to change
  3. “Do not become ritually impure” – although it may be supra-rational, it is possible to educate them to follow these traditions.

When the educator awakens the G-dly soul of the pupil then even someone who is unrefined and “not used to it” can follow the supra-rational to have a relationship with G-d.

Have a G-dly Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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