Joel Lurie Grishaverby Joel Lurie Grishaver

This text is found in the Shulhan Arukh. It is powerful because it talks about anger and frustration—realities for all of us who teach.

A teacher should not get angry at students who do not understand, rather, the teacher should repeat the matter over and over again until they grasp it. The student should not say “I understand” when the student does not understand, but should ask over and over again. And if the teacher is angry the student should say, ‘Teacher, it is the Torah and I want to know it.”‘ (Yoreh Deah 246:10).

The power of this text is three things. (1) The text does not say do not “show anger,” or do not “act in anger,” but rather, “do not get angry.” It affirms that students will have difficulties with learning—they are permitted to have problems. And, it demands that the teacher accept those difficulties—whatever they are, as part of the job of teaching. (2) I love the way the second half of this text turns it around. It challenges students to focus on the teacher. Having a problem—and being difficult are two different things. And if a teacher loses focus that the purpose of the relationship is Torah, it is the job of the student to re-center the teacher. Teachers help students learn. Learners help teachers teach. (3) It affirms that learning comes with challenges and difficulties—(and not just art projects). The enterprise of Torah learning will be a struggle—and there is a reward in that struggle.