Give It Away Now

THE TALMUD SAYS THAT ONE who teaches Torah to a child is as if one raised that child.

What it also says is, “That’s what you’re supposed to do.”

As noted elsewhere, Torah is a great interest and passion of mine, even more so than my other passions and interests. But if I only study Torah for my own edification and increasing my personal knowledge base, it’s as if I never studied it at all. What earthly good or use is knowing anything if you don’t share it with others?

There’s an important Hebrew concept called “l’dor vador.” This phrase is mentioned twice in the daily prayer service and is sprinkled throughout our Bible and its related teachings. It’s usually translated as “generation to generation,” and means each generation teaches the next what it has learned, all the way from Abraham to the end of recorded history (please G?d we should live so long, especially these days). Torah even states this explicitly in Genesis 18:19, where G?d says, sotto voce, “For I have singled [Abraham] out, that he may instruct his children and his posterity to keep the way of יהוה by doing what is just and right.” If Abraham had kept his monotheistic ethics to himself, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

A friend who served as an Air Force combat medic summed up his training thusly: “Learn one, do one, teach one.” It’s a nice organizing principle, whether in medicine, in Torah — or in life. Pass it on.

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