Rabbi Yitzchok Etshalom
Talmud Torah 6:7
7. When the *Hakham* enters, everyone who is within 4 Amot of him
stands in his presence. One may sit or stand until he enters and
sits in his place. Regarding the sons of *Hakhamim* and *Talmidei
Hakhamim* (lit. "students of *Hakhamim*") - if the public has
need of them, they jump over the heads of the people and enter to
get to their place. It is not praiseworthy for *Talmidei
Hakhamim* to enter at the end. If he went out by necessity, he
returns to his place. Regarding the sons of *Hakhamim*; if they
are capable of listening [to the lesson], they turn their faces
towards their fathers; if they are incapable of listening, they
turn their faces towards the people.
Q1: Again, we have the "4 Amot rule" - why the repetition?
YE: See answer to Q2 above.
Q2: How are *Talmidei Hakhamim* defined here?
YE: Here, they must be understood as direct students of the
*Hakham* in question (parallel to his sons).
Q3: Why are the sons of *Hakhamim* accorded any special
YE: According to Rashi (BT Horayot 13b s.v. Senifin) it is a form
of honor for their fathers.
Q4: What sort of need would the public have for the sons of
YE: The simplest understanding would be that their input is
needed for the session of the Beit-Din. Alternatively, they could
be physically assisting their fathers/teachers.
Q5: For what sort of need do they leave that they may return to
YE: From the *sugya* in Horayot, it is the "call of nature".
Q6: What value is there to have the sons of the *Hakhamim* to
sit facing the people?
YE: They are considered "snifin" (branches) of the father - it
may also be a way of admitting that this child is not a member of
the "listening/learning" audience, rather is only there as a form
of honor to his father.
Rambam, Copyright (c) 1999 Project