Rabbi Yitzchok Etshalom
Talmud Torah 1:06
6: From when is his father obligated to teach him Torah? When he
begins to speak, he teaches him *Torah tziva lanu Moshe* (Moshe
commanded us the Law, an inheritance of the congregation of
Yaakov) and *Shma Yisrael* and then he teaches him a few verses
until he is 6 or 7, all according to his ability. Then he brings
him to a teacher.
Q1: Why does this obligation kick in only when he begins to
speak - surely the child can listen to words of Torah - just as
R. Yohanan's mother sent him, in his crib, to sit in the Beit
Midrash and be exposed to the learning there?
KB: Intellectual maturity. Until a child can speak it seems
unlikely that it really has the capability to seriously learn. We
have similar things in math classes, prequiestes which really
aren't related, but experience has shown that someone who can't
do the first is in no position to generally benefit from the new
There may be exceptional counter examples, such as R. Yohanan,
but the clall ought to be something achievable by most (many,
Q2: Why these two verses?
KB: There seem to be the most basic and fundamental.
YE: Rabbi Yisroel Miller (RYM), of our shul in Pittsburgh,
responded: *Torah Tziva lanu Moshe* teaches two important
lessons: obligation (*Tziva*) and the accessibility of learning
from a person (*Moshe*) - in our discussion, we agreed that that
that is why the other verse is *Shma Yisrael* - to keep God in
the picture from the beginning.
Q3: Why the demand for the father to teach him these first
verses, and then to be brought to the teacher. As we asked
earlier, what if the father is capable of teaching him more than
this. Conversely, why can't the father assign someone else to
teach him these verses before he is of school-age?
KB: These or so basic and fundamental that they ought to be
taught directly by the parent. The teaching will probably have
more impact that way. Also it is likely to happen earlier.
YE: Based on the comments of RYM above, once the father teaches
that there is a learning relationship to be had with a teacher
(Moshe) - it furthers the potential relationship with the
teacher. The child needs to learn to love the teacher from the
Rambam, Copyright (c) 1999 Project