Torah Study

A Selection From My Favorite Jewish Sources
Rabbi Mordechai Levin

Mishne Torah, The Laws of Torah Study, chapter 1
1:2. Just as one is obligated to teach one’s son, so is one obligated to teach one’s grandson, for it is written, “…but teach them to your sons, and your son’s sons”. This doesn’t just apply to teaching one’s sons and grandsons, but every learned Jew is obligated to teach all his students, for it is written, “And you shall teach them to your children”. This tells us to teach our children, and students are [also] called children, as it is written, “And the sons of the prophet went out”. If so, why is there a commandment to teach one’s sons and grandsons? This tells us to give our sons precedence over our grandsons, and our grandsons precedence over someone else’s son. One is obligated to hire a teacher for one’s son, but one may only teach someone else’s son for free.

1:3. Someone whose father did not teach him is obligated to teach himself as much as he can, for it is written, “…that you may learn them, keep and do them”. This is similarly stated in any case where the learning is before the action, for learning causes action but action does not cause learning.

1:5. One should learn Torah before one gets married, for if one gets married first one won’t be able to concentrate on one’s learning. If, however, one’s inclinations overcame one so that one could not learn, one should get married first.

1:6. From when is a father obligated to teach his son Torah? When the child begins to speak he should teach him the verse, “Moses commanded us a Torah, the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob”, and also the first verse of the Shema. Then he should teach him bit by bit, verse by verse, until he is six or seven years old and according to his capacity, and then one should let a teacher take over.

1:8. Every Jew is obligated to learn Torah, whether he is rich or poor, physically complete or disabled, or whether he is young or an old person of failing strength. Even if he is a poor person supported by charity and begging, and even if he had a wife and children, he still has to set aside time during the day and by night for Torah study, for it is written, “…but you shall engage in it by day and night”.

1:10. One is obligated to learn the Torah till the day of one’s death, for it is written, “In case they leave your mind through your life”. As long as one learns Torah, one is not forgotten.

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Rabbi Levin is the rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in Munster, IN. He received his rabbinic ordination from the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary, and is a member of the Rabbinical Assembly. In 2010, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City for his years of dedicated service to the Conservative movement and the Jewish community...Full bio