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ב"ה

From the smallest to the biggest

Friday, 13 May, 2022 - 1:54 pm

In America we have age milestones for many things. There is an age you can vote, marry, purchase alcohol, hold national public office and finally the age you need to be to become president. More close to home, often children wish they could make their own decisions about bedtime, meals and homework and the inevitable truth is that until they grow up we will be making those decisions for them. Until then, kids are just kids. Or are they?

This week’s parsha opens with a peculiar sentence. G-d tells Moshe “Speak to the Kohanim the sons of Aharon, and you shall tell them.” See the redundancy? Torah is typically succinct and brief in its expression. It would have been sufficient to state simply “Speak to the Kohanim.” Why the added “and you shall tell them?”

Before bringing the Talmudic answer to this question, it’s important to appreciate that our sages expressed profound ideas in the brilliant articulation of their sentences. With proper training one can analyze every line of Talmud and extract volumes of interpretations and lessons.

Regarding the above redundancy the sages said four Hebrew words: “Lehazhir hagdolim al haktanim.” The simple explanation of these words is that the purpose of the double expression in this case is “to admonish the adult Kohanim to be responsible for the children,” that they should be careful with the rules too.

In this context, the Hebrew word “Lehazhir” means to warn and admonish, and our sages’ teaching communicates the responsibility of adults to educate the children. However the same word can also mean “to illuminate and brighten,” and when read with this translation, the meaning of our sages’ teachings takes on a new angle: children, through their behavior, illuminate and inspire their elders to do even better.

So Jewish education is a two way street. Knowledge, direction and training comes from the elders, but the inspiration and joy can be best gleaned from the little ones.

Where am I going with all this? In 1984 the Rebbe started an annual campaign for every Jew to study the works of Maimonides - Mishneh Torah: a 14 volume comprehensive treatise on Jewish law in clear and concise language - a must read for every Jew. In fact, Maimonides clearly states in his introduction that this work is written in a way that should be understandable to the smallest and the biggest. The Torah novice, even a child, can appreciate it and the greatest scholar will never tire to uncover more nuance and depth in it. In addition Maimonides wrote a shorter work Sefer Hamitzvot detailing the basic ideas of all 613 mitzvot.

The Rebbe set forth a study cycle of Maimonides that included everyone, from the greatest scholars to the smallest children.

The annual Maimonides learning cycle begins this Thursday, May 19 (Lag B’omer). I encourage you to visit chabadelpaso.com/rambam to learn more about this special study opportunity and find which track works best for you. Tap into a study system that blends the experience of the elders and the inspiration and passion of the children.

 

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