In Hebrew the word lamad is used for both ‘to teach’ and ‘to learn.’ According to Jewish culture it is considered that a teacher has taught nothing if the student has not learnt anything; meaning, teaching is not a professional vocation but a passionate vision to see the learner learn what is taught.
It is said that even the poorest Jewish while dying would want his son to be under the care somebody who can teach his child Hebrew so he could read Torah. Contrary to other cultures, even food, clothing and shelter come secondary to a practicing Jew.
Learning in Jewish perspective has three purposes; First, all learning is for the purpose of reading Torah. Secondly all learning must be learnt with the fear of God. Thirdly, ‘lamad’ [teaching or learning] it is not just the impartation of facts and knowledge but truth which must transform the life of first the teacher and then the learner. Class room is not just an institution but a place to encounter life and reality. The bottom line of all these purposes is to make learning a lifestyle and to discover greater and deeper truths along the journey of life as the learner grows and matures to understand bigger truths in life. This means, a student carries the class room all through his life where his head knowledge becomes only a slave to his heart to impart the knowledge.
The problem we have is when one imparts knowledge from head to head and not via the heart. Only life produces life so only a transformed spirit transforms another spirit. So, when teaching is done from the head alone and not via the heart to another head to take action in the heart, the result is we have walking intellectual robots that merely do a professional job which results in little or no transformation in the lives of the learners. This is like eating from the fruit tree of ‘good and evil’ instead from the fruit of the ‘tree of life.’
The ultimate purpose of such a tradition is that when the child grows up, his would be engaged in applying his learning to fulfil the purpose of God in his life while furthering God’s kingdom.
A mother has a natural bond with a child but a father has to build one.