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March 17, 1995 - Image 34

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-03-17

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To Teach Effectively,
Encourage New Ideas


ow often do we try to tell
someone how to live her
life? How much less often
does that person listen to
what we have to say? Isn't it only
when she comes to an under-
standing on her own that the un-
derstanding becomes hers
The root of Torah, y-r-h, means
to throw or shoot. In a different
grammatical form it means to di-
rect, teach, or instruct. The very
root of Torah gives an insight into
the ideal of education.
Torah is not the process of forc-
ing unwanted goods upon a stu-
dent. Torah is the process of
directing or shooting in the ap-
propriate direction and hoping
that the concept takes root, be-
coming one's own.
Torah expresses this attitude
in its approach to guilt-offering.
The approach is a modern
teacher's ideal. The Torah acts
at times as a teaching manual,
giving three or four different
ways to teach the same lesson;
three or four different teaching
styles for three or four different
types of student.
In last week's parsha, God
commands that he who brings a
guilt offering must first ac-
knowledge his guilt; then he
must make restitution; on the
day he is to bring the sacrifice, he
must repay whatever his theft
was worth plus a fifth. It is only
after he has done these things
that he may bring the sacrifice
and the priest may make atone-
ment for him (Leviticus 5:23-26).
The process of atonement was
not only to make amends to the
injured party. The sacrifice was
not solely for the benefit of God.
Although we read about the
priestly role this week, this
process was intrinsically for the
benefit of the sinner. Seeing the
sacrifice burnt, giving restitution,
and reflecting on the deed each
instruct in different ways creat-
ing a thorough "lesson plan."
Likewise, as Aaron is conse-
crated, Moses takes the blood of
a ram and touches it to the tip of
Aaron's right ear, upon the
thumb of his right hand, and
upon the big toe of his right foot
(Leviticus 8:23).
A similar anointment takes
place in Exodus 29:20, about
which Dr. J.H. Hertz suggests,
"the ear was touched...that it
might be consecrated to hear the
word of God: the hand, to per-


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form the duties of the priesthood;
and the foot, to walk in the path
of righteousness. In a 'kingdom
of priests' the consecration of ear,
hand and foot should be extend-
ed to every member of that king-
As the Torah teaches that
Aaron and his sons were in-
structed to follow God in three
different ways, it also teaches the
community in different ways. In
addition we should understand
as we teach our various students
and learn from our various teach-
ers that there are many different
learners, and it is our task to di-
rect each student toward making
ideas her own.
Resh Lakish explained, "A sin-
gle self-reproach in a man's heart
is better than a hundred lashes,
as is said, 'A rebuke in a man of
understanding goes deeper than
a hundred lashes on a
fool'(Proverbs 17:10)."(B. Ber 7a)
We can not force understanding
into one who does not want to un-
derstand. It is the person who re-
ceives the tools and information
to gain understanding who even-
tually takes a teaching to heart.
We must be here as support, to
tell people when we believe that
their actions are dangerous, or to
share our life experiences. But
as with the process of sacrifice we
must also allow each person's life
to be the ultimate teaching tool.

Shabbat Tzav:
Leviticus 6:1-8:36
Jeremiah 7:21-8:3

I think that a story from Yid-
dish Folktales explains the con-

cept well:
The Rebbe of Apt asked the
Rebbe of Pshiskhe why he did not
make sure that his disciples fol-
lowed each of the laws and pray
piously. In response, the Rebbe
of Pshiskhe told him this tale:
Once three men were confined in
a pitch-dark dungeon. Two of the
men were intelligent and one of
the men was a simpleton who
knew nothing but his name. He
couldn't even dress or feed him-
One of the wise men worked
hour upon hour to teach the sim-
pleton to dress himself, use a fork,
cut his food, and so on. Mean-
while, the other did nothing to
help. One day the hard working
man asked the indifferent one,
"Why don't you even try a little

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