03 Mar 2016 The Responsibility to Teach
In this week’s parsha, Parshas Vayakhel, the Torah tells us that Betzalel, the son of Uri, the son of Chur, from the tribe of Yehudah, was appointed as the master craftsman to oversee the construction of the Mishkan. Along with him was appointed Ohaliav the son of Achisamach, from the tribe of Dan.
About Betzalel, the Torah says: וּלְהוֹרֹת נָתַן בְּלִבּוֹ – And He put into his heart the ability to teach (Ex.35:34). There is only one other place in the Torah when this word, וּלְהוֹרֹת, is used, and that is in Parshas Shmini: וּלְהוֹרֹת אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, and to teach the Children of Israel all the laws which Hashem had spoken to them, by the hand of Moshe (Lev.10:11).
From here we can derive an important lesson: If one is graced with וּלְהוֹרֹת נָתַן בְּלִבּוֹ, if Hashem graced him with wisdom, with intuition, with a love for Torah, mitzvos and Yahadus, with the ability to live Torah, and to relay the beauty of Torah to others, then he must not keep it to himself! It is incumbent upon him to go out and teach others – וּלְהוֹרֹת אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. He should spread the wellsprings of Torah and wisdom, which he has been blessed with, and share the beauty with other Jews. (Parparos LaTorah, Shemos, p.182)
“And He put into his heart the ability to teach….And to teach the Children of Israel.”
“No matter where HaRav Ovadia Yosef zt’l went, he had to deliver shiurim. His children took note. At HaRav Ovadia’s funeral, his son R’ Avraham shared with the audience that his father taught them not to suffice with learning to develop their own scholarship or even to write sefarim; they had to go out to the simple folk and teach them Torah as well. ‘You taught us to go down to the nation,’ he wailed, ‘to use anything – stories, parables – whatever it took to teach them Torah.’
“R’ Avraham related that one time, a family member urged him to broaden his horizons and his sphere of influence. ‘You can’t continue to give these small shiurim,’ the relative urged R’ Avraham. ‘It’s time to graduate to something bigger and better.’ R’ Avraham didn’t accept this criticism. ‘Let’s go to Abba and ask,’ he said.
“When HaRav Ovadia heard the question, he turned toward his relative who had criticized R’ Avraham’s (“small” teachings). ‘Where did you get this idea from?’ he said sharply. ‘Did I ever demand a certain size audience in order to teach Torah?” (Maran HaRav Ovadia, Artscroll, p.281)
We are all teachers: to our families, our friends, our neighbors, ourselves, and those Jews who are still more distant from Yahadus. There are many opportunities to share Torah, and a Torah life, with those around us. Let us be sure that if Hashem, in His Infinite Kindness, has graced us with the ability to understand and teach, we rise to the occasion, accept the task, and share what we know with others.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe zt’l once famously declared, “If you know alef, go out and teach alef!”
וּלְהוֹרֹת אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל…..וּלְהוֹרֹת נָתַן בְּלִבּוֹ
לַיְּהוּדִים, הָיְתָה אוֹרָה וְשִׂמְחָה, וְשָׂשֹׂן, וִיקָר – And for the Jews there was light and gladness, joy and honor (Esther 8:16). May we all be zocheh to the radiant light of Torah, as it enhances our lives, our selves, our Land and our nation.
בברכת חודש טוב ושבת שלום,