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Teachers

By Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)

edited by Paqid Adon Mikha ben Hillel

and Paqid Adon Poriel ben Avraham

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In this study I would like to examine the Sages requirement for every man to have a teacher, and thepurpose of teachers in HaShem’s plan.

 

Avoth Chapter 1, Mishna 6 Joshua B. Perahiah used to say: “Appoint for thyself a teacher and acquire for thyself a study partner”.

 

The Nazarean Codicil (New Testament) echoes this refrain:

 

II Luqas (Acts) 8:26-31 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to [him], and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

 

Ephesians 4:11-12 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Messiah. --

 

A crucial part of human civilization is learning and education. Teachers are the keepers of knowledge and wisdom; they are men and women that have as their goal to further human growth through education.

 

There are teachers for nearly every branch of learning. This article is concerned with the branch of Biblical wisdom, its many teachers, and what it takes to become a teacher of the Word.

 

Before we look into the details for each type of teacher, it would be good to first establish the need for teachers and why we cannot become teachers without a human ingredient.

 

We have been learning from teachers since our birth; we learned how to talk from our family. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to learn this skill without an example and guidance from someone who already had this skill. To say that a baby could learn to talk all by himself is absurd. babies need someone to show them how to talk.

 

We can read the Bible all day long, but we will never learn even a fraction of what is in it unless we have someone to teach us all the nuances contained in it. So much is left unwritten in the Bible that only a teacher will be able to reveal its secrets. (see: Oral law)

 

So to become a teacher one must acquire a teacher. If we want to be the keepers of knowledge and wisdom we must learn from someone who already has both. Should we expect to be called a teacher if we haven't gone through the necessary formal education and have been accredited as a teacher? Should we expect to be a teacher without gaining the necessary knowledge (which can only come from a teacher)? Sir Isaac Newton put it well:

 

But yet I would not have thee too forward in becoming a teacher, like those men who catch a few similitude's and scripture phrases, and fore want of further knowledge make use of them to censure and reproach superiors and rail at all things that displease them. Be not heady like them, but first be thoroughly instructed thy self and not only in the Prophetic Scripture but more especially in the plain doctrines and delivered therein so as to put them in practice and make them familiar and habitual to thy self. And when thou hast thus pulled out the beam from thine own eye then shalt clearly to pull the mote out of thy Brothers eye. Otherwise how wilt thou say to thy Brother, "Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye and behold a beam is in thine own eye".

 

Now we know that we need a teacher to learn from before we can become teachers ourselves. But there is still something else we need before we can truly learn and become teachers. We need a study partner. We learn this from the statement in the Mishna, Pirqe Abot (Ethics of the Fathers):

 

Abot Chapter 1, Mishna 6 Joshua B. Perahiah used to say: “Appoint for thyself a teacher and acquire for thyself a study partner”.

 

But why do we need a study partner? We need someone to be able to tell us bluntly when we are wrong. We need someone to exchange ideas and points of view with. When we get more than one point of view on a matter we are more likely come to a correct conclusion. When we engage in study with our study partner we are also engaging with his point of view, a different way of thinking and looking at things.

 

When we have a study partner we may even compete with each other to have the right answer to a problem. The competition will spur us to study harder and to think in different ways. This is where the most intellectual growth can be seen.

 

Yeshua was also aware of the benefits of pairing students together. He sent his disciples in pairs to teach, as it is stated:

 

Mark 6:7 And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;

 

'Unclean spirits' can be interpreted as a single point of view, a single opinion. The power that Yeshua's students had over unclean spirits was related to them being sent two by two. The power was a consequence of having differing points of view. Unclean spirits breed anger and hate because a person believes he is the only one with the correct point of view.

 

So clearly there is a need to not only have a teacher, but also a study partner to truly learn HaShem's ways and to become a teacher in our own right.

 

The question is: What is a teacher according to the Bible in its intended language, Hebrew? The Hebrew word used for teach, teacher, and teaching, according to Strong’s, is:

 

3384 yarah, yaw-raw'; or (2 Chr. 26:15) yara', yaw-raw'; a prim. root; prop. to flow as water (i.e. to rain); trans. to point out (as if by aiming the finger), to teach:-(+) archer, cast, direct, inform, instruct, lay, shew, shoot, teach (-er, -ing), through.

 

The first time 'yaraw' is used in the scriptures is in:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 31:43-55 Laban answered Jacob, "The women are my daughters, the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks. All you see is mine. Yet what can I do today about these daughters of mine, or about the children they have borne? Come now, let's make a covenant, you and I, and let it serve as a witness between us." So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. He said to his relatives, "Gather some stones." So they took stones and piled them in a heap, and they ate there by the heap. Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha, and Jacob called it Galeed. Laban said, "This heap is a witness between you and me today." That is why it was called Galeed. It was also called Mizpah, because he said, "May HaShem keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other. If you mistreat my daughters or if you take any wives besides my daughters, even though no one is with us, remember that G-d is a witness between you and me." Laban also said to Jacob, "Here is this heap, and here is this pillar I have set up (yaraw) between you and me. This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not go past this heap to your side to harm you and that you will not go past this heap and pillar to my side to harm me. May the G-d of Abraham and the G-d of Nahor, the G-d of their father, judge between us." So Jacob took an oath in the name of the Fear of his father Isaac. He offered a sacrifice there in the hill country and invited his relatives to a meal. After they had eaten, they spent the night there. Early the next morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then he left and returned home.

 

From this usage we learn that the primary thing that a teacher (Jacob) does is to present something to the student (Laban). We further learn that the righteous (Jacob) should teach the wicked (Laban). A teacher is a witness to an event between his teacher and himself; also an event between himself and his study partner. Because of this erected or standing pillar of a witness—that is the teacher, he is now obligated to pass it down and share it with his students; and his students with their study partner.

 

The Hebrew term, “yaraw”, is also mentioned in:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 46:28-30 Now Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to get directions (yaraw) to Goshen. When they arrived in the region of Goshen, Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time. Israel said to Joseph, "Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive."

 

From this usage we learn that teaching should suggest direction to the student, in the way he should go. This also shows that, at no matter to what length or distance one should go, or how old that a person may be, one should send for a Torah-scholar, a teacher. This pesukim (verses) also teaches that a person should look for the spiritual and religious well-being of others as well as himself; as Yaaqob (Jacob) sent for Yehudah (Judah) to learn, that is get direction, from Yosef (Joseph).

 

The first time that this word, 'yaraw' is translated 'teach' in most modern versions is in:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 4:10-16 Moses said to HaShem, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue." HaShem said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, HaShem? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say." But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it." Then HaShem’s anger burned against Moses and he said, "What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were G-d to him.

 

From this passage we learn that HaShem is a teacher, and He should teach us, before we teach others. HaShem taught Moshe by giving him a study partner, his brother Aharon. HaShem suggested, or pointed out things, to Moshe and Aharon. However, in the end the responsibility belonged to Moshe Rabbenu. (i.e. the responsibility was left to Moshe Rabbenu [our teacher] to choose to follow what HaShem suggested at the waters of Meribah.) By requiring a person to have a colleague, a teacher forces his students to defend their perspectives and their understanding. Further, this oral interaction forces us to arrange our learning on our lips. This act alone tends to firmly connect us with our learning

 

Moshe was becoming opinionated, not taking into account another person of equal or greater stature. His brother Aharon was older and also quite a Torah scholar with his own unique perspective. It was for this reason that when HaShem became angry towards Moshe Rabbenu, that He mentioned Moshe’s brother Aharon. Moshe believed that he would be doing the task that HaShem entrusted to him, alone, that he would not have a colleague.

 

The primary duty of teaching the people fell upon the sons of Aharon.

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 10:8-11 Then HaShem said to Aharon, "You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the Tent of Meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You must distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean, And you must teach the Israelites all the decrees HaShem has given them through Moshe."

 

The most important student / teacher relationship should be father and children:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4:5-10 See, I have taught you decrees and laws as HaShem my G-d commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people." What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way HaShem our G-d is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today? Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before HaShem your G-d at Horeb, when he said to me, "Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children."

 

From the above passage we learn that there are no further qualifications to teaching our children other than being a parent. We also learn that our children should be taught HaShem's ways by their parents. This also ensures that a parent must have at least two children to teach successfully and that the witness erected between the teacher (parent) and students (children) is continued to the generations following and they should be honored as stated in:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 5:16 Honour thy father and thy mother, as HaShem thy G-d hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which HaShem thy G-d giveth thee.

 

Upon realizing the position of a teacher being needed in our lives, one can begin to appreciate the authority and title's that these honorable people have worked arduously to merit.

 

Pirke Abot provides a statement concerning what teachers are to do:

 

Pirke Abot Chapter 1, Mishna 1 Moses received the Torah from Sinai and passed it on to Joshua; Joshua [passed it on] to the elders; the elders to the Prophets; the Prophets passed it on the Men of the Great Assembly. They [the men of the Great Assembly] made three statements: Be deliberate in judgment; raise up many discples; and make a fence around the Torah.

 

There is a distinction that must be made here. There is a difference between being a student and being a disciple. The difference is that a student simply needs to hand in his homework, whereas a disciple must mimic his teacher. He must do as his teacher does.

 

Luke 6:40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.

 

The difference is roughly the difference between an English student and a Law student. The English student need only pass the exams, but the Law student must work for and with other lawyers. He must learn to be and act like a lawyer. He can't simply learn the law, he must learn what it means to be a lawyer. This is more demanding, but more rewarding as well. In the end, the results are of a higher quality as well.

 

This contrasts with the Christian, or world-view, idea of a disciple, a person that simply 'follows' or believes as another person teaches. There are no personal requirements, in Christianity, to become a disciple except to bask in the radiance of another person's doctrine. This is a mistaken idea, a corruption of what is taught in the Nazarean Codicil.

 

To summarize, the Nazarean Codicil's concept of a disciple must be translated, by using the dynamic equivalence method, as a person who is studying for a law degree and is serving his apprenticeship under a well experienced attorney.

 

There are certain responsibilities that a disciple has to his teacher and a teacher has to his disciple. These responsibilities have been expounded upon in the Mishna:

 

Pirqe Abot, Chapter 1, Mishna 4 Yosi ben Yoezer of Tzeredah and Yosi ben Yochanan of Jerusalem received the Torah from them. Yosi ben Yoezer of Tzeredah said: Let your house be a meetinghouse for the sages and sit amid the dust of their feet and drink in their words with thirst.

 

Pirqe Abot, Chapter 4, Mishna 12 Rabbi Elazar ben Shammua used to say: Let the honor of your student be as precious to you as your own; and the honor of your colleague as the respect due your teacher; and the respect towards your teacher as your reverence for G-d.

 

A disciple must honor and respect his teacher. A disciple must always be ready to have his teacher come to his house and a disciple must be willing even to sit on the dust of the floor to listen to the words of his teacher.

 

A teacher must honor his disciples. He must be willing to teach at any time, at any place.

 

One of the primary goals of a teacher is that he must make and build, brick by brick, talmidim (disciples) to become Hakhamim (Rabbis). The Nazarean Codicil also echoes this refrain:

 

II Luqas (Acts) 8:26-31 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to [him], and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

 

Let me reiterate: A teacher’s goal is to build Hakhamim. His goal is to build judges who are skilled in Torah law and able to rule. Ruling is nothing more and nothing less that dispensing justice. The goal of a teacher is to build talmidim into Hakhamim!

 

A person who is able to successfully teach a portion of Torah is called a teacher. So a teacher is one who imparts wisdom upon the receiver—the one who learns. In saying this, study partners can also be teachers toward each other. And the teacher is also the greatest student as the proverb goes, “More than my students learn from me, I learn from my students”. When two or three students, that being the teacher and his two disciples, are together the actual spirit of the subject they are learning is present among them. Hakham Matityahu records this principle in his Midrash in Chapter18, verse 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Thus, the one that posses’ the spirit of the subject is the teacher and he is the one sharing it with his disciples.

 

Certain people take upon themselves one of the most difficult choices in life. This group of people chooses to spend years of study going to school and also invest great amounts of money’s to acquire their desired profession that is least likely to provide a good economical return. Some may count them cheated from the ‘law of equivalent exchange.’ Such desired profession is that of a teacher. However, their aim is not to bask in the glory of overflowing wallets and a car to image the shine of their ego. A teacher’s desire is but to instill within their students a body of knowledge, and to use its principles in the most beneficial manner consistent with the teaching.

 

There are those who delude themselves and think that teaching is a profession by which to enlarge and handsomely reward their ego; but sooner or later they will be found out that they have been doing so for the wrong reasons.

 

Now that we know what a teacher is and must be, we can go on to detail the different types of teachers. We will outline the responsibilities and requirements to be one of these teachers. There are actually two general positions that make up the majority of the types of teachers. These two positions in turn have more specific roles. This idea will become clearer as we explore the aspects for each of the teachers.

 

Hakham is the title used by Sephardi Jews, Rabbi is used by Ashkenazi Jews. This article will use the title of Hakham.

 

Hakhamim are the masters of Torah knowledge. They are the spiritual leaders of their communities and the backbone of Judaism itself. Their role as teachers is instrumental in the continuity of Judaism. As these are the men that have undergone and completed heavy and arduous study of the Torah, the codes of Jewish Law, and personal examination of integrity under a long period of time—usually up to thirteen years of study to attain the position of Hakham—their rulings are welcomed by the community which he presides over.

 

Hakhamim also have specific roles as well, two of which are Posek and Dayyan.

 

Posek is the term used to denote a “Rabbi who decides the Halakha in cases of law where previous authorities are inconclusive.“ Posekim make rulings primarily based on precedence from previous rulings. An example is that the Posekim based the laws concerning the use of electricity on the Sabbath on the laws concerning the creating of fire on the Sabbath. Posekim don't make new laws, rather they expand existing laws. A Posek can also serve on a Bet Din as Dayyan. Posekim are the ultimate teachers, the ones that all Jews count on to have the answer to even the most difficult questions. However, a Posek might not be a regular teacher at a school, but more likely will be involved in matters of law.

 

The title of Dayyan is used for judges of a Bet Din, court of justice.

 

As we said earlier, there are two general types of teachers. The other general type of teacher is the Paqid. The office of Paqid is a broad one, having many different aspects. Paqidim make up the seven members of a synagogue. Each of these seven members of the synagogue serve a different purpose and have different responsibilities, but they all have the title of Paqid, as well as their more specific titles. Paqidim are primarily clerks for the Bet Din (explained later), but they also have other responsibilities as well.

 

The first type of Paqid we'll examine now is the Masoret. This officer is either an itinerant or resident “catechist” whose main function is to embody and preserve the Halakha as presented by the Bet Din as well as to help/teach proselytes in their process of conversion and integration into the Jewish community (He also acts as a “cult buster” a “defender of the faith”), help in the preventing of assimilation or deviation from Halakha as taught by the Bet Din, as well as responsible for the preparation of instruction materials in the achievement of their areas of responsibility before and under the direction of the Bet Din. The Masoret is the 'repository of tradition'. He makes sure that the synagogue stays true to its traditions. The Masoret also makes sure that the talmidim or members of a community do not heap onto themselves many Rabbis. If allowed it would lead to the destruction of the individual and eventually the community.

 

Hakham Shaul gives us directives in the personal qualifications and responsibilities of the Masoret:

 

II Timothy 4:1-5 I charge [thee] therefore before G-d, and the Master Yeshua the Messiah, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Declare the Torah; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves [many] teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of a Masoret (evangelist), make full proof of thy ministry.

 

The second type of Paqid we'll examine is that of Sheliach. The office of Sheliach can in turn be divided into two other offices: Sheliach Bet Din and Sheliach Tsibbur or Chazan. The last two terms are synonymous and can be used interchangeably.

 

The Sheliach Bet Din is the emissary of the Bet Din, the bailiff which enforces the will of the court. He is the Rosh Paqid, the chief clerk of the court. He is the interface between the Bet Din and the other Paqidim (whom he has authority over).

 

The Chazan is the overseer, or angel, of the synagogue.

 

Revelation 2:1 "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands:

 

He embodies the prayers and wishes of the synagogue. He is the representative of the synagogue before HaShem. It's the duty of the Chazan to effectively channel the prayers of the synagogue to HaShem. The Chazan can also appoint others in the synagogue to perform this act of kindness as well, if he pleases.

 

Actually, the term Chazan is used in the Talmud to denote the offices of both Sheliach Tsibbur and Sheliach Bet Din:

 

In the Talmud the term "hazzan" is used to denote the "overseer":

 

(1)     of a city; "hazzane demata," according to B. M. 93b (see Rashi ad loc.; Ket. 8b; 'Ar. 6b);

(2)     of a court of justice; at his order the sessions opened (Yer. Ber. iv. 7d); he also executed judgment on the condemned (Mak. iii. 12; comp. Yer. Sanh. v. 23a);

(3)     of the Temple; he had charge of the Temple utensils (comp. Arabic "khazin" = "treasure-keeper") and aided the priests in disrobing (Tamid v. 3; Yoma vii. 1);

(4)     of the synagogue ("hazzan bet ha-keneset"; see Sotah vii. 7, 8; Suk. iv. 4); he brought out the rolls of the Torah, opened them at the appointed readings for the week, and put them away again (Sotah vii. 7-8; Yer. Sotah vii. 21d; Yer. Meg. iv. 15b, 75b); with trumpet-blasts he announced the beginnings of Sabbaths and holy days from the roof of the synagogue (Tosef., Suk. iv.); he attended to the lamps of the synagogue (Yer. Ma'as. Sh. 56a); he accompanied the pilgrims that brought the firstlings to the sanctuary of Jerusalem (Tosef., Bik. ii. 101). His place was in the middle of the synagogue, on the wooden "bimah" (Yer. Suk. v. 55b), and, according to Tosef., Meg. iii., beginning (see Mordecai ad loc.), he might, at the desire of the congregation, read aloud from the Torah, his ordinary duties then devolving temporarily upon another. It seems also to have been the duty of the "overseer" of the synagogue to teach the children to read (Shab. i. 3, according to Maimonides, Bertinoro, and Tosafot Yom-Tob on the passage), or to assist the schoolmaster in teaching the children in the synagogue.

 

However, modern usage has it that we differentiate the roles of chief clerk of the Bet Din and cantor / overseer of the synagogue.

 

Both of these offices are involved in teaching.

 

The Sheliach Bet Din—Rosh Paqid—teaches the other Paqidim. Normally he will teach subjects of lesser difficulty than a Hakham would. This divides the task of teaching up so that the Hakhamim can focus on subjects of greater difficulty.

 

The Chazan, as we read earlier, will teach others (especially children) to read (normally for the purposes of doing the prayers and reading the Torah). He can also assist a schoolmaster in teaching.

 

In the Nazarean codicil, these offices are called Bishop or Apostle. Hakham (Rabbi) Shaul also gives several lists in his She'elot U-teshuvot (Responsum, i.e. epistles) in:

 

Titus 1:7-9 For a bishop [Sheliach / overseer] must be blameless, as the steward of G-d; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just and charitable, separated and set-apart, temperate; Holding fast the faithful Torah as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

 

The Jewish Encyclopedia shares similar thought with Hakham Shaul concerning the Sheliach:

 

In addition to knowledge of Biblical and liturgical literature, He should be blameless in character, humble, a general favorite, and married, or at least should have reached the age of puberty; he should possess an agreeable voice, be able to read easily and understand all the books of the Holy Scriptures, be the first to enter, and the last to leave, the house of G-d, and should strive to attain the highest degree of devotion in his prayers; he should dress neatly, and wear a long upper garment and "knee breeches"; he should not look about him nor move his hands restlessly, but should keep them folded under his mantle; in praying aloud he should articulate each word separately as if he were counting money, and his delivery should be quiet, distinct, and in accordance with the sense, and his accentuation should follow strictly the rules of grammar. Outside HaShem's house he should avoid sowing any seeds of anger or hatred against himself, by keeping aloof from communal disputes.

 

Yet, what are some of the academic requirements to become a Sheliach? In 2nd Timothy 4:22 of the Nazarean Codicil it holds that Timothy, the talmid (disciple) of Hakham (Rabbi) Shaul was made Rosh Sheliach of the community in Ephesus. To become a Sheliach one must have in mind to become a Hakham (Rabbi) thus, a Sheliach is a Talmid Hakham (rabbinical scholar) applying for a seat in the Rabbinate. As Hakham (Rabbi) Shaul advised his talmid (disciple) in 2nd Timothy 2:15 Study to show thyself approved unto G-d and the judges (Rabbi’s), a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

 

A Sheliach is enrolled in a rabbinical program somewhat equivalent to that of a post-graduate doctoral program. A Sheliach is in study to become an expert in his career—to become a Hakham (Rabbi). As Hakham Shaul ordered in his responsa to his Talmid, Timothy, that one must study and learn. In Hebrew this is known as Lilmod which is connected to the same root word for Talmud. A Sheliach must then be engaged in Talmud Torah (the learning of Torah) and become an expert in the Oral Torah, and be able to divide the oral torah accordingly into its proper divisions as was done with the six divisions of the Mishna contained in the Talmud.

 

A Chazan also has other requirements. The qualifications for this office, according to Shulchan Arukh - OH 53:4-9, are:

1.     Humility

2.     Acceptability to the congregation.

3.     Knowledge of the rules of prayer and the proper pronunciation of the Hebrew text.

4.     An agreeable voice.

5.     Proper dress.

6.     A beard. (Magen Avraham to Shulchan Arukh OH. 53:6)

 

So the different aspects of Sheliach can be shown as:

·        Sheliach Tsibbur / Chazan

·        Sheliach Bet Din / Rosh Paqid

 

The third type of Paqid we will examine is the Darshan or Magid. The Darshan is the officer who expounds the Torah in a sermon, delivered after the reading of the Haphtarah / Ashlamatah or section from the prophets. Because of this they are also called Prophets and are called as such in the Nazarean Codicil. They also deliver sermons whenever the occasion demanded it.

 

The fourth type of Paqid we will examine is the Parnass. The Parnassim are the three officers who are in charge of “serving the tables” as stated by Hakham Dr. Luqas in:

 

II Luqas (Acts) 6:2-3 Then the twelve called the multitude of the Talmidim (disciples) [unto them], and said, It is not reason that we should leave the Torah of G-d, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

 

They are known in the Nazarean Codicil as the deacons or pastors of the community. Their responsibilities are the caring of the poor, Bikur Cholim (visiting the sick), distributing tsedaqa (charity) collected for their use. The Jewish Encyclopedia has them as rabbinical scholars that are given charge of congregational affairs.

 

Hakham (Rabbi) Shaul describes briefly the requirements to be a Parnass:

 

1 Timothy 3:8-13 Likewise [must] the deacons [be] grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being [found] blameless (before the Torah). Even so [must their] wives [be] grave, not slanderers, sober, having Emunah (faithful obedience) in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the Emunah (faithful obedience) which is in Messiah Yeshua.

 

The Parnass teaches through example. He shows all members of a synagogue how to perform mitzvot (acts of kindness) with the most zeal. He embodies the mitzvot much like the Sheliach does, but with his primary purpose being to fulfill these mitzvot as a daily, administrative task. One can look to a Parnass to know what it means to be a good Jew and excellent teacher.

 

The last type of Paqid we'll examine is the Meturgeman or Zaken. This officer is in charge, under the supervision of the Bet Din, of the primary and secondary schools in the community, and the training of children for Bar / Bat Mitzvah. The exceptional literacy among Jews is directly attributable to this office and the effort that was expended in education. During the dark ages when even kings could not read, Jewish children could read.

 

Many of these offices are used in the Nazarean Codicil, using an English translation of each.

 

The office of Masoret is know as Evangelist in the Nazarean Codicil.

The Sheliach is the Apostle or Bishop.

The Darshan is Prophet.

The Parnasim are Deacons or Pastors.

And the Meturgeman is Teacher or Elder.

 

A common way to display the list of all the offices of a synagogue and of the types of teachers is to use a diagram as follows:


 

 

Hakham/Dayyan

 

Hakham/Dayyan

(These are the Bet Din)

Hakham/Dayyan

Sheliach/Apostle/Bishop

 

Masoret/Evangelist

 

Darshan/Prophet

 

Parnass/Deacon/Pastor

 

Parnass/Deacon/Pastor

 

Parnass/Deacon/Pastor

 

 

Meturgeman/Teacher/Elder

 

 


There is more information on these offices at the following link: Synagogue

 

But why has HaShem instituted so many different kinds of teachers? Why not have only one kind of teacher that teaches everything? Well, just as in other academic institutions Judaism needs those that are specialized in a particular field. However, an even more potent reason can be found in the Nazarean Codicil:

 

Ephesians 4:11-12 And he gave some, apostles (Sheliachim); and some, prophets (Darshanim); and some, evangelists (Masoretim); and some, pastors (Parnasim) and teachers (Meturgemanim); For the perfecting of the saints (His consecrated people), for the work of the ministry, [so that they should work] for the edifying of the body of Messiah.

 

Each of these teachers has a role in the edification of the body of Messiah. Each of them are important servants of HaShem and each of them is needed for His purposes.

 

The wisdom of HaShem is manifest in this division of teachers and teaching. The division allows each person to have a position of teaching based on his personal abilities and preferences. Are you interested in matters of law and justice? Dayyan might be the office for you. But maybe you're more outgoing and love to teach anybody and everybody that will listen? Sheliach seems to be an office fit for you. Maybe you're not interested in the technical details that it takes to be a Sheliach? Perhaps you're interested in helping people in need? Parnass would seem to be your office of choice.

 

This is all to say that for every man there is a position of teaching custom made for him by HaShem, tailored to each man's personal needs and desires. To be a teacher, though, takes much work and dedication. If you want to call yourself a Parnass, you must help people! You cannot simply bask in the glory that comes with being a Parnass. Nor can you call yourself a Hakham or Rabbi without knowing the ways of HaShem thoroughly. You cannot be a Chazan and not have a pleasant voice.

 

Every man can be a teacher. If you desire to be a teacher, there are many types to choose from, though your choice is likely already made for you by HaShem. Now all you must do is take charge and fulfill the duty that HaShem has most graciously appointed to you. We can all take a part in 'edifying the body of Messiah'!

 

Teachers of the world

 

In Bamidbar, why did HaShem start with the census, then the camping order, and finally we hear about the Levites? Why this order?

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 1:50 but appoint thou the Levites over the tabernacle of the testimony, and over all the furniture thereof, and over all that belongeth to it; they shall bear the tabernacle, and all the furniture thereof; and they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle. 51 And when the tabernacle setteth forward, the Levites shall take it down; and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up; and the common man that draweth nigh shall be put to death.

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 3:12 'And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of every first-born that openeth the womb among the children of Israel; and the Levites shall be Mine;

 

The Levites were taken in place of the bechor, the firstborn, of Israel. They represent Israel.

 

The bechor stands between the parents and his younger siblings. He is closest in age to both the parents and his siblings. The bechor is in the best position to take the values of the parents and model them to the next generation. He is a transitional figure, a bridge. This explains the Torah’s use of the bechor. For example:  HaShem killed the firstborn of Egypt so that they could not communicate the evil vales of their parents to the next generation. HaShem destroyed the bridge. At the same time, HaShem took the bechor of Israel to communicate HaShem’s values to the world.[1] The bechor of the Bne Israel were to become the bridge to communicate HaShem’s values to the world.

 

The Levites are to be the bechor between HaShem the the rest of Israel. They werte to become the bridge.

 

The kohanim are also a bridge. They work in the Mishkan and are close to HaShem most of the time.

 

There is yet another bridge: the Kohen Gadol who stands between HaShem and the kohanim. He comes the closest to HaShem.

 

This gives us the spiritual order: 

HaShem => Kohen Gadol => Kohanim => Levites => Bne Israel => the nations of the world.

 

Each of these bridges were designed to make it easier to transmit HaShem’s values to the world. Giving each ‘bridge’ a different role is much like an army communicates the President’s goals to the fighting force through the ranks of occifers and enlisted men.

 

HaShem builds His bridges to insure His values are transmitted at every step. The Levites were added to bridge the work of the Kohanim who are so close to HaShem that they do not have the time or presence to communicate HaShem’s values to the world. They are disconnected from the world, so to speak. The Levites work with the Kohanim in the Mishkan, but they also spend most of their time teaching Torah to the people. They take HaShem’s values from the Kohanim and give them to the people.

 

In effect, the levites are the bechor, the bridge for the Bne Israel in Bamidbar 3:6-7.

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 3:6-7 Bring the tribe of Levi near, and set them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him. 7 And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, to do the service of the tabernacle.

 

Clearly, in the above pasuk, the Levites are put as a bridge between Ahran and the congregation. The same phrase is used to describe the kohanim:

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 8:35 And at the door of the tent of meeting shall ye abide day and night seven days, and keep the charge of HaShem, that ye die not; for so I am commanded.

 

Thus we see that the kohanim are to serve HaShem and the Levites are to serve the kohanim and the whole congregation.

 

In Leviticus, the congregation were bystanders while Moshe gave smicah  to the kohanim.

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 8:23 And when it was slain, Moses took of the blood thereof, and put it upon the tip of Aaron's right ear, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot. 24 And Aaron's sons were brought, and Moses put of the blood upon the tip of their right ear, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot; and Moses dashed the blood against the altar round about.

 

Yet, at the inauguration of the Mishkan, the whole congregation gives smicah, by the laying on of hands, to the Levites.

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 8:10 And thou shalt present the Levites before HaShem; and the children of Israel shall lay their hands upon the Levites.

 

The the Levites represent Israel and they substitute for them.

 

Why did the Levites get to be the bridge? What made them suitable for that role?

 

In the whole Torah, there is only one other incident that involved the whole tribe of Levi. This gives us a clue as to their suitability as a bridge.

 

At the incident of the golden calf, Moshe asked for those who were for HaShem to come to him.

 

Shemot (Exodus) 32:26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said: 'Whoso is on HaShem’s side, let him come unto me.' And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.

 

The ones who held firmly to HaAShem gathered to Moshe’s side – the Levites were steadfast in following HaShem. This is what proved their suitability as a bridge between the kohanim and the Bne Israel. The Levites proved that they were ablt to transmit HaShem’s values to the rest of the Bne Israel. Moshe confirms this ability when he Blesses the Levites at the end of his life.

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 33:8 And of Levi he said: Thy Thummim and Thy Urim be with Thy holy one, whom Thou didst prove at Massah, with whom Thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah; 9 Who said of his father, and of his mother: 'I have not seen him'; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew he his own children; for they have observed Thy word, and keep Thy covenant. 10 They shall teach Jacob Thine ordinances, and Israel Thy law; they shall put incense before Thee, and whole burnt-offering upon Thine altar. 11 Bless, HaShem, his substance, and accept the work of his hands; smite through the loins of them that rise up against him, and of them that hate him, that they rise not again. 

 

The tribe of Levi were to be teachers and a teacher is a bridge, responsible for teaching HaShem’s values to the rest of the nation, with the goal that the Bne Israel would embody HaShem’s values and spread them to the rest of the world.

 

Thus Bamidbar starts with a census to show that the kohanim were not the only ones who were special to HaShem, but rather all of Israel was special. We only count things that we treasure. Further, the Bne Israel were to be a nation of priests.

 

Shemot (Exodus) 19:6 and ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.'

 

By explaining the encampment formation, HaShem was indicating that each of them was fully part of the camp and they all had a special place – connected to HaShem. Each of the counts! Each of you surround Me in the camp. Closer and farther were not the message. ‘Surrounding Me’ was the message.

 

So, at the beginning of Bamidbar we hear that the Levites are between the Mishkan and the Bne Israel. Theye were to be the bridge. The Levites are quite literally the transition point between the people and the palce of HaShem.

 

They carried the Mishkan furniture because they were responsible for building the place of HaShem amidst the camp – as the representatives of the Bne Israel.

 

HaShem placed His dwelling in the midst of the people to show His interest in them as individuals. Yes, the Levites were the teachers of the Bne Israel, but the Bne Israel were to take this learning and teach it to the world. They were to be the teachers par excellence. They were to be the bechor to the world.

 

 

 

 

* * *

 

This study was written by Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

Comments may be submitted to:

 

Greg Killian

1101 Surrey Trace SE

Tumwater, WA 98501

 

Internet address:  gkilli@aol.com

Web page:  http://www.betemunah.org/

 

(360) 918-2905

 

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Send comments to Greg Killian at his email address: gkilli@aol.com



[1] Shemot (Exodus) 4:22