Halacha for Tuesday 23 Iyar 5778 May 8 2018

Establish Many Students

The first Mishnah in Pirkei Avot states: “Moshe received the Torah at Sinai and transferred it to Yehoshua. Yehoshua then transferred it to the Elders and the Elders transferred it to the Prophets. The Prophets transferred it to the members of the Great Assembly. They (the members of the Great Assembly) said three things: Be patient in judgment, establish many students, and make a fence for the Torah.”

Avot of Rabbi Natan states that Bet Shammai say that one should only teach a student who is wise, humble, and a Ben Torah. Bet Hillel, on the other hand, say that one should teach any student, for there were many criminals among the Jewish nation who came closer to Torah learning and as a result, merited having righteous offspring.

The opinion of Bet Shammai is seemingly quite understandable, for if one teaches a student who is not humble, when he grows somewhat in Torah study, he will immediately view himself as a wise man which will cause him to disagree with the Torah luminaries of the generation and this will cause great destruction. Similarly, if one teaches a student who is not intelligent, even after several years of learning, the student will still expound the Torah in an erroneous and crooked manner which will likewise cause great destruction. History has already shown several unworthy students who had studied a small amount of Torah and then proceeded to sway the Jewish nation from the proper path. However, according to Bet Hillel, this risk is worthwhile, for the light of Torah may bring back many straying Jews to the fold and they will then produce good and pious Jews.

Although the Halacha follows the opinion of Bet Hillel, this does not mean that one should teach Torah to literally every single person, for the Gemara (Chullin 133a) states, “One who teaches an unworthy student shall fall into Gehinnom.” Maran zt”l explains this to mean when one is clearly aware that this student is going in an unsavory path; however, if one is not aware of the student’s actions or behavior, it is a Mitzvah to teach Torah to such a student.

Nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that nowadays, it is a Mitzvah to teach Torah even to students who are unworthy as long as they appear to be products of “captured children,” i.e. that they do not observe Torah and Mitzvot as a result of their distorted secular education. It is likewise a Mitzvah to bring inmates in prison who were charged with heinous crimes to Torah and Mitzvot, for many of them return to the correct path after being taught Mussar and being rehabilitated. Indeed, Maran zt”l once instructed us to teach Torah to a wayward youth who used to be a Ben Torah but unfortunately strayed from the path of Torah, for only the Torah has the power to return him to the proper path. (However, one may not teach a student who only studies Torah in order to destroy.)

One must likewise try to spread Torah and Mitzvot lovingly to one’s relatives. One should not lecture them endlessly; rather, one should speak to them in a pleasant manner so that they may accept even one good resolution upon themselves, for this one thing will bring them further and further in their Torah observance. By registering friends to receive the daily “Halacha Yomit” email (obviously with prior consent), one merits teaching them Torah every day; the light of the Torah will surely raise their spiritual level. We have indeed seen some fruits of our labor and today, thank G-d, there are over twenty-five thousand regular members who have registered to receive these Halachot every day. Countless others receive these Halachot by other means and ascend the levels of Torah and Mitzvot and become truly knowledgeable in Torah, how fortunate they truly are.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

A Prayer in Vain

The Mishnah in Masechet Berachot (54a) states: “If one prays for something that has already passed, this constitutes a prayer in vain.” This is because Hashem will not change something that has already occurred in the past. The Gemara there provides an example: “If one’s ......

Read Halacha

“Barechu Et Hashem Ha’Mevorach”

Question: If one is praying alone and thus cannot answer “Baruch Hashem Ha’Mevorach Le’Olam Va’ed,” may one recite “Barechu Et Hashem Ha’Mevorach” on his own or not? Answer: It is well-known that the recitation of “Barechu Et Hashem Ha’M......

Read Halacha

Praying for a Miracle

Question: May one request that Hashem perform a miracle for him in a supernatural way? Answer: The will of Hashem is that this world run according to the laws of nature, as the great Rishonim (including Rabbeinu Sa’adia Gaon in his book and the Ran in his discourses) write. Similarly, the G......

Read Halacha

“Derech Eretz” Precedes the Torah

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avot (3, 23) states: “Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya says: Without Torah there is not Derech Eretz (we shall define this term below); without Derech Eretz, there is no Torah.” The simple definition of the term “Derech Eretz” is conducting business, hence the te......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Cooking on Yom Tov

In the previous Halachot we have explained that although Shabbat and Yom Tov are equal in their prohibition to perform work on them and it is therefore a Torah prohibition to drive a car on Yom Tov, nevertheless, certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking and frying, are permitt......

Read Halacha

Lighting Candles in Honor of Yom Tov-Seudah Shelishit this Coming Shabbat

Lighting Yom Tov Candles Just as there is a Mitzvah to light candles on Erev Shabbat in honor of Shabbat, there is likewise a Mitzvah to light candles in honor of Yom Tov since the Torah refers to all holidays as “Holy Proclamations.” Indeed, the Rambam writes (Chapter 6 of Hilchot Yom ......

Read Halacha

Grating Vegetables on Yom Tov

Question: I would like to prepare potato patties made from ground potatoes on the Shavuot holiday. Is this permissible? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have explained that all forbidden works that apply on Shabbat apply to Yom Tov as well besides for works pertaining to food preparation in hon......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Food Preparation on Yom Tov

The holiday of Shavuot will be celebrated, G-d willing, at the conclusion of the period of the counting of the Omer a week from today, Sunday (beginning from Motza’ei Shabbat), the 6th of Sivan (and outside of Israel on Monday, the 7th of Sivan as well). Let us, therefore, begin to discuss som......

Read Halacha