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How does one, as a teacher, make Torah learning inspiring for one's students? Advice on what material to teach is appreciated, but more importantly I want to know how to teach it in a way that inspires the students to love Torah and to grow in their observance of it.

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Well he has to 'live' with it. Not that its some abstract matter. Ask the children their opinion. –  preferred Jun 6 at 10:03
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Are you asking about a particular age range, or the gamut from toddler to high school? –  Monica Cellio Jun 6 at 22:04

6 Answers 6

B"H If Torah is alive for you, your students will be enthused. If you teach by rote, if Torah isn't an integral part of your being but an appendage, children (and teens and adult students as well) will feel it. Study pnimiyus HaTorah to stoke that nitzutz within you. (Sefer HaTanya is a great place to start.

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learning it so deeply that one could be mechadesh ie. come with with your own novellae. We say everyday "v'sen chelkeinu b'sorasecha" R Ahron Kotler was medayek "chelkeinu" our portion, each person has their own portion in torah, and by learning it so deeply, and plumbing its depth, one can make a "kinyan" on his torah. thus by teaching it in a stimulaing way, in way that will show them the depth of the torah, they will see what learning it in depth can accomplish

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That "diyuk" precedes R' Aharon Kotler by several centuries. –  YeZ Jun 8 at 2:38

Kids love stories, esp. those that involve heroic acts done by other children that are their age. There are numerous books around with this theme. If you can choose a story and embelish or adapt it, even better.

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Get to know your students and what excites them and what they are good at. If one student is great with general Jewish knowledge, call on him to answer those kinds of questions. If another loves to read and translate, give him many chances to do so. (not to the exclusion of other students of course). When you call on them for things they are good at, they feel successful and people like to do things that make them feel successful. Make sure to Compliment all their accomplishments, however minor. Then they will see Torah learning as something they love and look forward to.

Additionally, making a personal connection with the students is always helpful if it is possible. This does not mean being "buddies" with your students - they should always respect you, there should be a certain distance. But sometimes when you share a piece of personal info (like a personal story about your family) or when you go over to them after class with a personal compliment, it makes you more real to them. When they see their Torah-teacher as a REAL person, they can relate their interest in your subject to an interest in YOU. That then gives YOU a responsibility to behave in the way you'd like to see them behave. Once they relate well to you, you can be such a positive example of living a Torah lifestyle and growing in mitzvah observance.

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I asked rabbi zev leff once how to be more enthusiastic in learning torah and he said 2 things.

One - learn books which talk about the greatness of torah such as "Maalos Hatorah"

Two - attach yourself to people who are enthusiastic about learning. Their enthusiasm will "rub off" on you.

I think you can adapt this advice to a teacher.

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In my experience, a person is most interested in themselves. A student many times also wants the material to be relevant. When a teacher uses mussar, not just reading a mussar sefer, but allowing the student to explore their own self and applly each idea to their own life. They will be wowed with the greatness of torah, its applicability. People yearn for growth, and the experience of realizing that torah is alive and takling everything you are is powerfull. A mussar vaad, where you learn one idea-lets say what the definition of chesed is. Then as a group you come up with a task to perform a few times between the next vaad, say week one saying hi to someone you are not used to saying hi to every day, week 2 will use the insights from week one to come up with a new avoda of the week to further deepen the students understanding of self and understanding of the midda. For example, the mesilas yesharim starts that a persons obligation is to know and make true what their "goal" is in life. The ramchal states elsewhere that a person should spend שעה ביום trying to determine what that is. If you gave your students 10 minutes and a pen and a paper for a week, you will be amazed and so will they. Once the appreciation of what torah can do for a person is there, then the delving into the sugya and finding emes life nafkamina said.

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