Essay: Education in Biblical and Rabbinic Thought

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Essay: Education in Biblical and Rabbinic Thought

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It is worthwhile to note that in Classical Jewish Tradition, there is no specific book or chapter that reflects or talks about educational philosophy or practice. In addition, it does not talk give a systematic and/or standardized philosophy or theory of education. However, a rigorous study of relevant biblical texts, bring out two aims of basic education. One of this aims is that children ought to be trained to revere God hence the famous dictum the fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom. The second element of these aims is that children should be instructed to obey the laws of God as reflected in the commandments.

The criteria of education shifted from the central sanctuary in Jerusalem to the study and practice of the Torah. In the second century, Rabbi Akiva expressed that the study or practice of Torah is much preferable but not if its study is never practiced. In other words, the study of the Torah should be translated to practice. This understanding led the rabbis to lay more emphasis on the study of Torah in that the study accorded to it ought to be thorough and extraordinary. This new observation by the rabbis was embedded on the fact the study of Torah should be a lived one.

The study of Torah is an obligation to all no matter the circumstance or status of the person. Maimonides asserts that every Israelite is supposed to study Torah, whether s/he is a pauper or wealthy, sane or insane, healthy or unhealthy, youthful or old, married or unmarried and so on and so forth (Albeck, 1969). In addition, every sage has an obligation to teach a willing student and as such an obligation to study is also an obligation to teach. It is prohibited for one to teach Oral Torah and ask for remuneration for the service; just as God gave it to the people freely so should be given to others freely (Aries, 1962).

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