“And you shall teach your sons!” (Devarim 6:7)
It is a positive commandment that one must learn the wisdom of the Torah and teach it to others. This means that one must learn how to perform the commandments and how to be careful from doing that which Hashem held us back from, and to know the laws of Hashem in the true way. About all of this it says “And you shall teach your sons!”, and Chazal said that the word “sons” refers to pupils. The word used for teaching in this verse is “veshinantam” which means that the words of Torah should be organized in your mouth so that if someone asks you a question you should not mix him up, but give him a clear immediate response. this commandment is repeated in many places.
The root of this commandment is well-known for through the learning of the Torah a person can learn the ways of Hashem, and without it he cannot know or understand and is considered like an animal.
Amongst the laws of this commandment are that which Chazal said “From when does the father start to teach his son Torah? From when he starts to speak, and he teaches him to say “Torah tzivah lanu Moshe morashah kehillas Ya’akov” (Moshe commanded us the Torah, it is and inheritance of the congregation of Ya’akov) and the verse “Shema Yisrael etc.”. After this, he teaches him a little of the verses of the Torah, and at age six or seven he takes him to a teacher of children.
It is fitting for anyone who has any knowledge to consider in his mind that he must not burden the child with too much studying when he is still weak of limb and heart. he should wait until he has grown and he becomes strong of limbs, bones and heart and can bear the exhaustion of learning without becoming ill or fainting. However, once he has reached the stage that he has become strong and his eyes are open to understanding that which his teachers say, it is correct and fitting to put the yoke of learning on him, make him drink from its wine and eat from its honey.
The main obligation on the father is to teach his son to read in the Torah. If he continues to teach him Mishnah, Gemarah, Laws and Aggados, he will receive a blessing. One whose father did not teach him, is obligated to learn himself when he is old enough and understands the matter, as it says “And you shall learn and perform them!”. If both father and son need to learn Torah and the father can only afford to pay for one of them, he takes precedence over his son. If his son is cleverer than him and will remember the learning better, his son takes precedence.
A person is obligated to learn Torah until his dying day as it says “Lest they move away from your heart all of the days of your life!”. Chazal also said that even during death a person must learn Torah, as it says “This is the law; a person who dies in a tent”.
Every member of Klal Yisrael is obligated to learn Torah, be he poor or rich, healthy or pained. Chazal say that by delving into the Torah all of a person’s limbs will be healed. Even a beggar who collects money at the door, or a person who has a wife and children and is preoccupied with their support, must fix times to learn during the day and the night, as it says “And you shall speak about it day and night!”.
After a person’s death, the beginning of a person’s judgment in the court on high is about him wasting time and not learning Torah. The words of Torah are compared to water, as Torah can only be fixed in a person who is humble and not in someone who is arrogant, like water which does not stay on the mountains and always goes down to the valleys.
A person should not say that when I will have time I will learn, as it is possible that he will never have time, for a person can never know what will happen in the future, as the business of the world is renewed every day, and washes a person from one thing to the next and from one preoccupation to the next, and all of his day pass in confusion, unless he forces himself to spend time learning Torah. Anyone who does this and wishes blessing, will receive help from heaven the preoccupations of the world will be lessened from him. He will dwell in happiness all of his days in this world, and it will be good for him in the next.
This commandment applies in all places and at all times, to men but not to women, as it says “And you shall teach them to your sons” and Chazal extrapolated that it means sons and not daughters. A woman also has no obligation to teach her sons Torah, but it is nevertheless correct that she should make sure that he does not remain ignorant, and she will receive a nice reward for her travail.
One who does not teach his son Torah until he knows how to read in the Torah and translate the verses, has transgressed this commandment. In the same way, anyone who is able to learn and does not receives a great punishment, as this commandment is the mother of all of them.