Haham Eliezer Papo, Sarajevo (Ottoman Turkish Empire) 5545 / 1785
is not aware of the greatness of the Torá? Yet, people do not
pay enough attention to their responsibility to teach it to their
children. Indeed, a child's Torá education should begin at conceptionThe
parents should pray that the Almighty grant them holy, integent and
upright children. The mother should strive to hear words of Torá during
a child is born, the parents should keep him in a Torá environment.
Rabbi Yehoshua ben Hananiah became a great Sage thanks to his mother.
During her pregnancy, she went to the Study Hall to listen to the
voice of Torá and asked the scholars to pray that her child would
become a great scholar. After his birth, she brought him to the Study
Hall to hear the Torá being learnedThe words thus became implanted
in his mind.
songs should be sung to soothe a crying baby. Love songs and Gentile
songs damage a child's soul.
a child is able to speak, the father should teach him verses and lessons
from the Torá. When the child grows older, he should be brought to
a teacher. Yet even after he begins studying with a teacher, what
he learns at home influences a child the most. A parent should study
with his child daily, on Shabbat, and whenever he has free time. If
he is unable to maintain this responsibility for whatever reason,
he should hire a Torá scholar.
is the lot of ignorant people to toil day and night to earn a living,
and to undergo considerable personal sacrifice and suffering. Yet
they walk in darkness, permitting that which is forbidden and forbidding
that which is permitted, untouched by the light of Torá. They awaken
early and go to sleep late, wasting their lives on trivialities. Woe
unto them in this world and woe unto them in the World-to-Come!
is not so of Torá scholars. The merit of Torá provides them with a
livelihood in this world. They develop upright qualities, avoid anger
and melancholy, and direct their attention to the Worldto-Come instead
of worrying about matters of this world.
pure person who realizes the greatness of Torá will sacrifice himself
to provide his children a Torá education. At least one of his children
should become a Torá scholar.
is the benefit which scholars provide their parents through their
Torá and service of God. Rabbinic scholars are careful to honor their
parents in both life and death; their merit elevates the soul of their
parents. The parents of a Torá scholar benefit the child, themselves,
and serve the will of their Creator.
your first responsibility is to your own children, people who are
able to teach other children as well are fortunate. The others may
succeed more than your children, and you will rejoice in their accomplishments.
One who teaches Torá to others is considered as their natural parent
scholars think that studying Torá with young children is a waste of
time. They reason that when they learn by themselves, they can cover
more of the Talmud and the Codes and write their own Torá insights,
whereas if they spend time with young students, they are merely reviewing
material on the simplest level.
is therefore important to know that in God's eyes, it is much greater
to teach children even the alef-bet than to study the most complex
Torá laws. Keep in mind also that if you were unable to teach your
children Torá, you would want others to assume this responsibility.
This is especially true when it comes to teaching orphans.
Rabbis of blessed memory taught: "Be careful with the children
of the poor, because the Torá will emanate from them" (Nedarim
also taught: "Be careful with the children of the ignorant, for
the Torá will proceed from their midst" (Sanhedrin 96a). Community
leaders must tirelessly and wholeheartedly day nor devote themselves
to the responsibilities of Torá education. They 99b). We should hire
qualified teachers for each subject and appoint proper supervisors.
world exists through the merit of the breath of young children who
study Torá (Shabbat 119b). Their studies are not to be disturbed for
any reason. Any effort or expense to promote Torá study among children
benefits their souls and pleases our Creator. God.
lose hope on any child nor decide that since he will never become
a scholar, it would be better for him to leave school and begin working.
This is nonsense. Whoever spends time studying Torá will undoubtedly
progress. Even if he does not become a scholar, he will at least become
man is obligated to teach his children Torá until they grow up even
if he is so poor that he is unable to support his family. The Torá
will help them in their businesses to earn their livelihoods honestly,
pleasantly, abundantly and with dignity. Even if they do ers it as
not become great sages, they may become readers of the synagogue services,
teachers or communal workers.
be sure, it is impossible to have a world without merchants. If everyone
became Torá scholars, they would have nothing to eat. Our Rabbis taught
that "The world cannot exist without spice dealers and tanners-happy
is the spice dealer; woe unto the tanner" (Kiddushin 82b). The
world needs both sages and merchants. Fortunate are people who dwell
in the House of Study.
you are a businessman, try to devote as much time as possible to Torá
study. Do not miss public prayers; have daily fixed times for Torá
study; dedicate yourself to raising your children to become scholars.
Support and serve Torá sages with all your might.
unto people for the shame of the Torá" (Avot 6:2). Our commentators
explained this statement with a parable. If you were told to count
old pieces, and that you could keep whatever you counted-you would
certainly not tire from counting them day and night! If you were to
stop counting, it would indicate that the gold meant nothing to you.
This is analogous to Torá study. One who fails to study indicates
his lack of interest in Torá. There is no greater shame to the Torá
Yishmael's nephew learned the entire Torá and then asked his uncle
if it was permissible for him to study Greek sciences. Rabbi Yishmael
replied, "The verse states: 'And you shall meditate on it (the
Torá) day and night'. Go and find an hour which is neither day nor
night and you may study Greek wisdom then" (Menahot 99b). We
are accountable for the tiniest moment wasted which could have been
spent in Torá study.
of the evils which befall us and delay the arrival of the Messiah
are the result of wasting time which could have been devoted to Torá
call out to you, children of the living God! Let us be strong for
our God. Let us respect the honor of our Creator! Let us respect our
souls and our spirits! Let us believe in our sacred Torá and in the
words of our holy Rabbis. Let us resolve not to waste time! Perhaps
God will then bring about the flowering of our redemption, and send
merchant should not say: "I have learned Psalms and studied some
Zohar. A Rabbinic scholar has the time to engage in Torá study all
day, but I cannot." This attitude is wrong. Our Rabbis taught
that if one reviews even one verse with devotion, God considers it
as though he were studying the most complicated sections of the Torá.
Review what you know one thousand times rather than sitting idle.
should greatly encourage their husbands and children to study Torá,
especially on long winter nights, Shabbatot, holidays and whenever
they are free. The wife of a Rabbinic scholar should try to make it
easy for her husband to learn.
engages in Torá study is elevated, since study leads to action. Follow
the words of the Torá and our Sages, deviating neither to the right
nor the left. You will merit blessing in this world and the World-to-Come.
study of Torá surpasses all" (Peah 1: 1).
is from Haham Papo's Pele Yoetz (An Encyclopedia of Ethical
Living) which is available in all Jewish bookstores. The Pele Yoetz
was first printed in Constantinople, Turkey in 5585 /1825 CE. It was
popular among both Sephardim and Ashkenazim across Europe and Asia.
The work has been printed in Hebrew, Ladino, Judeo-German, Arabic