YESHIVAT HAR ETZION
ISRAEL KOSCHITZKY VIRTUAL BEIT MIDRASH (VBM)
Introduction to the Study of Talmud
by Rav Michael Siev
A scan of the classic printed daf can be found at:
Key words and phrases in Hebrew and Aramaic are marked in blue, and their translation/explanation can be seen by placing the cursor over them.
From time to time, the shiur will include instructions to stop reading and do some task on your own. This will be marked by a
Within the quoted texts, my explanations and additions are also noted in red.
The gemara we studied last week discussed the benefits of marrying at an early age. Our gemara concludes that theme. We resume with the top line of daf 30a.
Rava said to R' Natan bar Ami:
"While your hand is on the neck of your son,"
from sixteen until twenty two,
and some say: from eighteen until twenty four.
Like (the disagreement between) the Tanna'im: "Educate the lad according to his way:"
R' Yehuda and Rebbi Nechemia, one said:
from sixteen until twenty two,
and one said: from eighteen until twenty four.
א"ל (=אמר ליה) רבא לר' נתן בר אמי:
אדידך על צוארי דבריך,
משיתסר ועד עשרים ותרתי,
ואמרי לה: מתמני סרי עד עשרים וארבעה.
כתנאי: חנוך לנער על פי דרכו
ר' יהודה ורבי נחמיה, חד אמר:
משיתסר ועד עשרים ותרתין,
וחד אמר: מתמני סרי ועד עשרים וארבעה.
At first glance, it is not entirely clear what Rava is trying to communicate to R' Natan bar Ami. Rashi (s.v. adyadkha) fills in the blank: while a father has "[his] hand on the neck of [his] son," meaning while he is still able to exert influence on his son, he should make sure that his son gets married.
The gemara records two traditions as to the ages that Rava includes in this bracket of when a boy reaches maturity until the time that he is independent and a father cannot expect to have a decisive influence on his son's life. One tradition has the bracket between sixteen and twenty two while another tradition places it between eighteen and twenty four. The gemara notes that this reflects a disagreement among the tanna'im regarding a verse in Mishlei (22:6): "Educate the lad according to his way; even when he grows old he will not turn from it." This verse indicates that one should educate each youngster in accordance with his natural abilities and tendencies, so that the education he receives, which is appropriately geared toward him, will stay with him even late in life. There is a disagreement among the Tanna'im as to the age of the "lad" that this verse speaks of. One opinion gives the range of ages as sixteen to twenty two, while another places the range between eighteen and twenty four. The implication is that at the end of this age bracket, youth have become more set in their ways and are less easily influenced. This parallels the two versions of Rava's statement about the age until which a father is presumed to have a great deal of influence over his son.
Moving on in the gemara
The gemara had previously been discussing a father's obligation to teach his son Torah. In the context of that discussion the gemara asked whether one should delay marriage in order to focus more exclusively on his Torah studies, and digressed to discuss the ideal age of marriage. At this point, the gemara continues its initial discussion of a father's obligation to teach Torah to his son. We are up to the two-dots, eight lines down on 30a.
Until where is a man obligated to teach his son Torah?
Rav Yehuda said in the name of Shemuel: like Zevulun ben Dan,
whose father's father taught him Scripure, Mishna, Talmud, halakhot and aggadot [legal and moral lesssons].
They challenged (based on a beraita): "If he taught him Scripture - he (need) not teach him Mishna."
And Rava said: Scripure - this (means) Torah!
Like Zevulun ben Dan and not like Zevulun ben Dan;
like Zevulun ben Dan - whose father's father taught him,
and not like Zevulun ben Dan - for there (he taught him) Scripture, Mishna, Talmud, halakhot and aggadot,
while here - Scripture alone.
עד היכן חייב אדם ללמד את בנו תורה?
אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל: כגון זבולון בן דן,
שלימדו אבי אביו מקרא ומשנה ותלמוד, הלכות ואגדות.
מיתיבי: למדו מקרא - אין מלמדו משנה.
ואמר רבא: מקרא - זו תורה!
כזבולון בן דן ולא כזבולון בן דן;
כזבולון בן דן - שלמדו אבי אביו,
ולא כזבולון בן דן - דאילו התם מקרא, משנה ותלמוד, הלכות ואגדות,
ואילו הכא מקרא לבד.
Having established that a father must teach his son Torah, the gemara analyzes the parameters of this obligation; what exactly must a father teach his son? As a response to this question, Shemu'el refers to the example of Zevulun ben Dan, whose grandfather taught him, essentially, all of Torah. The gemara challenges Shemu'el's assertion that such an all-encompasing educational experience is a normative obligation; there is a beraita, after all, which says that Scripture is good enough even without Mishna. The gemara answers that Shemu'el's reference to Zevulun ben Dan was made only to emphasize that a father, and perhaps even a grandfather (we will discuss this point soon) must teach his son (or grandson) Torah. Although this presumably happens in every household, Zevulun ben Dan was most likely a prime example of the fulfillment of this obligation, due to the superior education that his grandfather gave him. Shemu'el did not mean to imply, though, that every father is obligated to teach his son as much as Zevulun's grandfather taught him; Scripture, as the beraita rules, is enough.
Rava further clarifies what it is that the beraita means by "Scripture." He explains that this refers to "Torah." Rashi here (s.v. Torah) explains that Rava intends to specify that only Torah ("Chumash") is included, as opposed to the other two parts of Tanakh; Nevi'im (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings). While there are some authorities who interpret "Torah" in this context more broadly to include the entire Tanakh, which comprises the Written Torah, it is clear that the Oral Torah is excluded from this obligation; indeed, this is apparently explicit in the beraita, which rules that a father need not teach his son Mishna. However, the Shulchan Arukh (YD 245:6) rules in accordance with the Ramah (R. Meir Ha-Levi Abulafia, 12th-13th century Spanish scholar), who claimed that this applies only to one who has very limited means. If one is able, one is obligated to teach his son all areas of Torah, in accordance with the example of Zevulun ben Dan himself.
|Can you bring a proof from a gemara that we have learned thus far to support the claim that a father's obligation includes the Oral Torah in addition to the Tanakh?|
The Shulchan Arukh Ha-rav (written by R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi, who lived in the 18th-19th centuries and was the first Lubavitcher Rebbe) points to the gemara's discussion on 29b as a support for the idea that a father is responsible to teach his son all areas of Torah. The gemara there discusses a situation in which only the father himself or his son may learn Torah, and asks whose learning should take precedence. Since it is clear from the discussion that the father is the one making this decision, and he certainly has an obligation of his own to learn Torah, it seems clear that he must also be obligated to teach his son Torah; otherwise, his own learning would certainly take precedence. The gemara also seems to make it quite clear that the discussion is not limited to Tanakh; Rav Acha bar Ya'akov, in the story the gemara brings to support its discussion, was probably not going to study the fundamentals of the Written Torah with Abaye.
The obvious difficulty with this approach is that it seems to directly contradict the beraita quoted here in our gemara, which states that one must teach one's son only "Torah," as opposed to Mishna. How can we understand the opinion of the Ramah in the context of our gemara?
The Chazon Ish (R. Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz, 20th century) explains that there are two separate obligations incumbent upon a father. There is an obligation incumbent upon a father to teach his son, based on the verse "you shall teach them to your sons" (Devarim 11:19); this obligation is a corollary of the father's own mitzva of Torah study, and applies specifically to the Chumash. In addition to that, a father has a general obligation of chinukh, to train his son to live a fully committed and meaningful religious life. As part of this obligation, the father should teach his son all of Torah, as that surely aids in the molding of his religious personality. Just as a father must teach his son a trade so that he can live a productive professional life and provide for his family, a father must teach his son as much Torah as possible so that the son will be able to live a productive religious life. Nevertheless, since the mitzva of chinukh is a broad one, it cannot be said that teaching any specific item is an absolute halakhic obligation. Therefore, one who does not have the means to teach his son cannot be held accountable for failing to teach him any particular piece of Torah; except for the Chumash, which a father is specifically obligated to teach his son.
Back to the gemara
The gemara further questions the extent to which the case of Zevulun ben Dan can be used as a model for the obligation of a father to teach his son Torah. We are almost a third of the way down the page on 30a, across from Tosafot s.v. yeter.
And is his father's father obligated?
But the beraita states: "And you shall teach them to your sons" - and not the sons of your sons!
And how do I fulfill "And you shall make them known to your sons and the sons of your sons?"
To tell you that anyone who teaches his son Torah,
the verse considers it as though he taught him and his son and his son's son until the end of all the generations!
He says in accordance with this tanna, for it says in a beraita: "And you shall teach them to your sons" -
I have only your sons, the sons of your sons from where?
(Scripture) teaches: "And you shall make them known to your sons and the sons of your sons."
If so, why does it say "your sons?"
"Your sons" - and not your daughters.
ואבי אביו מי מיחייב?
והתניא: ולמדתם אותם את בניכם - ולא בני בניכם.
ומה אני מקיים והודעתם לבניך ולבני בניך?
לומר לך, שכל המלמד את בנו תורה,
מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו למדו לו ולבנו ולבן בנו עד סוף כל הדורות!
הוא דאמר כי האי תנא, דתניא: ולמדתם אותם את בניכם -
אין לי אלא בניכם, בני בניכם מנין?
ת"ל (=תלמוד לומר): והודעתם לבניך ולבני בניך;
א"כ (=אם כן), מה ת"ל בניכם?
בניכם - ולא בנותיכם.
Previously, the gemara asserted that the case of Zevulun ben Dan can serve as a model regarding the fact that his grandfather taught him Torah, but should not be taken as a model of what is included in the father's obligation to teach his son. The gemara now questions that assertion: In the case of Zevulun ben Dan, it was not his father who taught him but his grandfather, and a beraita teaches that whereas one is required to teach one's sons Torah, this obligation does not extend to one's grandsons! This ruling is based on the verse "And you shall teach them to your sons" (Devarim 11:19), which the gemara interprets as including sons but excluding grandsons. The beraita questions its own ruling based on a different verse, "and you shall make them known to your sons and your sons' sons" (ibid. 4:9). It explains that this means simply that one who teaches his son properly is considered as though he has also taught his grandson, and indeed, all future generations. Since he has successfully passed on the Torah to his own children, he has set the stage for that tradition to continue to future generations as well. Nevertheless, the formal obligation applies only to teaching one's son and not one's grandson.
The gemara answers that Shemu'el's implication that a grandfather must teach his grandson Torah is supported by a different beraita. This second beraita asserts that the pasuk in Devarim 4:9 should be taken at face value as obligating a man to teach his grandson Torah. As we saw regarding the first beraita, this beraita as well addresses the fact that there seem to be contradictory pesukim about this issue, one of which obligates a man to teach only his sons and one of which apparently obligates a man to teach even his grandsons. While the first beraita accepts the implications of the pasuk in Devarim 11:19 literally and explains the verse in Devarim 4:9 in a non-literal sense, this second beraita accepts the simple reading of the verse in Devarim 4:9 and must now must address the verse in Devarim 11:19; why does that pasuk say "your sons," as though one is obligated to teach only one's sons and not one's grandsons? The beraita explains that the word "sons" is not intended to exclude grandsons but rather to exclude daughters. The gemara has thus proven that there is a disagreement between two different beraita'ot with regard to this issue; Shemu'el, by holding Zevulun ben Dan as an example of the obligation incumbent upon a man to pass Torah on to the next generation, clearly holds in accordance with the second beraita, that a man must teach grandsons as well as sons.
It should be noted that there is yet another beraita that is quoted in the Sifri (a compilation of teachings of the Tanna'im on the books of Bamidbar and Devarim) which asserts that one is actually obligated to teach Torah to everyone, even non-relatives. If so, the question that must be raised is why our gemara mentions only the obligation to teach one's sons or grandsons. The commentators explain that there are two ways in which the obligations cited in our gemara are significant:
1) One's own son takes precedence over other people if one cannot teach both.
2) If a man cannot on his own provide his son with the appropriate quality of education, the father must hire someone else to do so. One is not required to pay for the education of anyone else.
The Shulchan Arukh (YD 245:3-4) rules that one is especially obligated to teach or otherwise provide for the education of one's son and grandson; one is obligated as well, on a lower level, to teach anyone he is able to teach.