Positive Mitzvah Eleven

Studying and Teaching the Torah

Devarim 6:7 You shall teach them thoroughly to your children and you shall speak of them while you sit in your home, while you walk on the way, when you retire and when you arise.

It is a religious duty that the words of the Torah should be sharp and clear in a person's mouth, that he should not stammer over them. Whether one is poor or rich, or young or old,; whether he is a man laden with suffering, a poor person sustained by charity who makes the rounds knocking on doors for alms - he is duty-bound to set himself a fixed time for Torah study both by day and at night; for Scripture says, "...but you shall meditate in it day and night..." (Yehoshua 1:8).

To study and teach the Torah is called Talmud Torah. This injunction is contained in His words, "You shall teach them thoroughly to your children" (Devarim 6:7).

The Sifre says: "To your children, means to your students: we find that a man's talmidim are everywhere called his children, as it is said, 'And the sons of the prophets came forth.'" (2Melachim 11:3; Devarim 6:7, Sifre) The Sifre also says in the same place: "'And you shall teach them diligently' - which means that [the words of the Torah] are to be fluent in your mouth, so that when a person asks any question concerning them, you are not to be halting in your answer to him, but you are to answer him at once."

This Mitzvah is repeated many times: "And you shall teach them" (Devarim 11:19); "and do them" (BaMidbar 15:39); "and that they may learn." (Devarim31:12) The importance of this Mitzvah and the obligation to fulfill it are emphasized in many places in the Talmud.

Women are not bound by this Mitzvah. We infer this from His words, "And you shall teach them your sons" (ibid., 11:19), whereon the Sages comment: "Sons, but not daughters"; as has been explained in Tractate Kiddushin 30a.

RaMBaM - Mishnah Torah

"The Sages, the Prophets [and all Yisrael] have longed for the days of the Mashiach not in the hope of establishing their rule over the whole earth, nor out of desire to exercise dominion over the idolaters - indeed, neither for the sake of being exalted by the nations, nor from any desire for food, for drink, or for pleasure - but in order that they may be free to study the Torah and its Wisdom, without any oppression or interference, and so may win Eternal Life."