Qitzur Shulchan Arukh – 165:13-14

Yesterday’s halakhah made me aware of this short snippet of laws about teachers that deal with interpersonal halakhah.

יב: הַמְלַמֵּד, צָרִיךְ לֵישֵׁב וּלְלַמֵּד אֶת הַתִּינוֹקוֹת כָּל הַיּוֹם וּקְצָת מִן הַלַּיְלָה, כְּדֵי לְחַנְּכָם לִלְמֹד בַּיּוֹם וּבַלָּיְלָה. וְלֹא יְבַטְּלוּ הַתִּינוֹקוֹת כְּלָל, חוּץ מֵעֶרֶב שַׁבָּת וְעֶרֶב יוֹם-טוֹב בְּסוֹף הַיוֹם. אֵין מְבַטְּלִין אֶת הַתִּינוֹקוֹת אֲפִלוּ לְבִנְיַן בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ

A teacher must sit and instruct the children all day and part of the night, so that he teaches them to study [Torah] at day and at night. They may not desist from the children at all, except for erev Shabbos and erev Yom Kippur toward the end of the day. We do not interrupt the children even for the building of the Temple.

יב: מְלַמֵּד תִּינוֹקוֹת שֶׁמַּנִּיחַ אֶת הַתִּינוֹקןת וְיוֹצֵא, אוֹ שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה מְלָאכָה אַחֶרֶת עִמָּהֶם, אוֹ שֶׁמִּתְרַשֵּׁל בְּתַלְמוּדוֹ, הֲרֵי זֶה בִּכְלַל אָרוּר עוֹשֶׂה מְלֶאכֶת ה’ רְמִיָה. לְפִיכָךְ אֵין לְהוֹשִׁיב מְלַמֵּד אֶלָּא בַּעַל יִרְאָה, מָהִיר לִקְרֹא וּלְדַקְדֵּק. וְאֵין לַמְלַמֵּד לִהְיוֹת נֵעוֹר בַּלַיְלָה יוֹתֵר מִדַּי, שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה עָצֵל בַּיּוֹם לְלַמֵּד. וְכֵן לֹא יִתְעַנֶּה אוֹ יַעֲצֹר אֶת עַצְמוֹ מִמַּאֲכָל וּמִשְׁתֶּה אוֹ יֹאכַל יוֹתֵר מִדַּי, כִּי כָּל אֵלּוּ הַדְבָרִים, גוֹרְמִים ֹשֶלֹּא יוּכַל לְלַמֵּד הֵיטֵב. וְכָל הַמְשַׁנֶה, יָדוֹ עַל הַתַּחְתּוֹנָה וּמְסַלְּקִין לֵהּ

A teacher of children who puts the children to rest and leaves, or does some other work with them, or slacks off in his learning, he is in the category of “cursed is one who is lax in doing Hashem’s work” (Yirmiyahu 48:10). Therefore, one does not setp up a teacher anyone but a person of fear/awe [of the Almighty], who is quick to read and be careful.

A teacher should not stay up too late at night, so that he won’t be lazy during the day. Similarly, he shouldn’t fast, or stop himself from food or drink, nor eat too much, for all these things will cause him to be unable to teach well. And anyone who veers from this, his hand is on the lower [i.e. his claim in a court would be weaker], and we fire him.

יב: לֹא יַכֶּה אוֹתָם מַכַּת אוֹיֵב, מוּסָר אַכְזָרִי, לֹא בְשׁוֹטִים וְלֹא בְמַקֵּל, אֶלָּא בִּרְצוּעָה קְטַנָה

He should not hit them as an enemy would smite, the rebuke of the callous, neither with whips nor with a stick, only with a thin strap.

Note that by citing 165:12 as being similar to the laws of 185, Rabbi Ganzfried is giving a second reason for it. Not only is it bad education for the children to learn that their studies are interruptable and hence unimportant, nor is such interruption good for the universe (their studies take priority even over building the Beis haMiqdash!), but here the Qitzur adds that it would be prohibited for the same reasons as for any other employee. The same could be said of the negligent teacher in se’if 13.

Se’if 14 touches on the question of corporeal punishment. Clearly R’ Ganzfried’s approach would be counterproductive with today’s children. However, as we saw in 184:2, the Qitzur only permits hitting children where that is the most effective way to correct behavior.

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  1. Neil Harris says:

    This actually explains why my son’s 4th grade rebbe will often keep the class learning even when the bell goes off for recess. He often tells the class that “a bell ringing isn’t more important learning Torah”.
    Note: This rebbe is very “old school” (he learned by R Simcha Wasserman in LA in the 50s), yet incredibly youthful.

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