In Kiddushin 29b it says "a father is obligated... to teach his son Torah" (האב חייב בבנו... וללמדו תורה) and in Nazir 29a it says "a father is obligated to educate his son" (איש חייב לחנך בנו).

What are the differences between לימוד and חינוך?

  • Are you asking about the difference in this specific case or the difference in general?
    – Lo ani
    Mar 10, 2019 at 20:45
  • In general and throughout the legal literature Mar 10, 2019 at 21:14
  • Whoops, misunderatood
    – Lo ani
    Mar 10, 2019 at 21:57

3 Answers 3


Both terms are of equal importance and play a differing roles in raising our children with the correct value system underpinned by Torah and Mitzvah knowledge.

The term 'Chinuch' is applicable from the earliest stage as well as maintaining a relevancy with our ongoing interactions with our children.

There are two definitions that one can use to gain a deeper understanding of the expression 'chinuch':

Definition 1: Training

The first time the word חינוך appears in the תורה is with אברהם when he hears that his nephew לוט is captured by סדום. The תורה tells us that אברהם engaged his ‘trained’ men in order to rescue לוט. The תורה writes:

"וירק את חניכיו ילידי ביתו" – “and he armed his trained men who had been born in his house”.

רש"י there explains that these men were "שחנך אותן למצות" – “He had trained them in מצוות”. Thus, the first way to understand חינוך is to see it as a period of training. A time in which we carefully nurture our children by teaching them the ways of the תורה and מצוות and therefore, train them to be a proper Jew. (Refer to חובת התלמידים – (Feldheim Publishers – 2011), p. 6)

Definition 2: Initiation/Inauguration

Alternatively, רש"י writes further:

"והוא לשון התחלת כניסת האדם או כלי לאומנות שהוא עתיד לעמוד בה"

“[The root חנך] means the beginning of the entry of a person or an implement in the craft in which he/it is destined to stay”.

According to this second explanation, the word ‘חניכיו’, from which חינוך is derived, is a reference to some sort of starting point (Also refer to רש"י (שמות כח:מא) ד"ה ומלאת את ידם). In this context, it refers to the disciples of אברהם who joined his household by virtue of the fact that he ‘initiated’ them into Hashem’s commandments. Therefore, when taken in the framework of children, it is to be understood as their entry point into the world of תורה and מצוות. This means to say, when a child arrives at this stage of life, one is able to begin the process of making them aware of what is expected of a תורה Jew (See זריעה ובנין בחינוך, 'העיתוי הנכון – נקודת ההתחלה' עמ' יד - טו). This beginning phase is absolutely pivotal as it establishes the standard from which everything subsequently emanates. (Refer to פרק מב of פרקי דרבי אליעזר where it says, "הכל הולך אחר הראש" – “Everything goes after the head” i.e. all that happens stems from the beginning point.)

Based on these two definitions, the term 'chinuch' is something that comes into effect right from the beginning and is ongoing as a child grows both from a בין אדם למקום and בין אדם לחבירו perspective. Through 'chinuch', parents foster the sense of expectation and code of conduct that a Jew should live by.

'Limmud' however, is a reference to a more knowledge-based growth. The תורה writes:

ולמדתם אותם את בניכם לדבר בם”

“And you shall teach them to your children, to speak of them.”

Using this פסוק as a starting point the גמרא notes that as soon as a child learns how to speak, their father is required to teach them the פסוק of "תורה צוה לנו משה מורשה קהלת יעקב" – “Moshe commanded to us Torah, an inheritance of the congregation of Yaakov” as well as the first פסוק of קריאת שמע. Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe זצ״ל cites an interesting ספרי that sheds more light on this important חז״ל. The ספרי writes that when a child begins to speak, his father must converse with him in לשון הקודש and teach him תורה. If he doesn’t do this, "כאילו קוברו" – “it is as if he buried him,” as it says “ולמדתם אותם את בניכם לדבר בם”, which means to say, if you teach them you will merit a long life, and if not, your days will be short. R’ Wolbe explains this cryptic ספרי to mean that in the early stages of development when a child is learning to speak, it is crucial for a father to plant the seeds for eventual spiritual growth. At this age, a child is ready to be infused with the virtue of אמונה, basic belief in G-d, and conversing in לשון הקודש acts as the medium through which this planting can firmly take root. As such, this point represents a serious and significant moment which must not be delayed at any costs, and must be regarded as the “נקודת ההתחלה” – “starting point” (See זריעה ובנין בחינוך, "העיתוי הנכון – נקודת ההתחלה", עמ' יג-יד. Also refer to the חפץ חיים in שמירת הלשון, שער ג, פרק ז). The serious phrase of “it is as if he buried him” is employed to teach you that already when the child is at this young age, a commitment to Torah must be instilled immediately.

Thus, the term Limmud also begins very early on but it focuses on enhancing a child's knowledge base to give them a Torah framework. It is the way in which the sense 'mesorah' is passed on by teaching a child the different tenets of Torah and Mitzvos.


I'll explain it in two aspects:

  • Simply put, Limud is about knowledge - knowing what's written in the books. Chinuch is about observing and following what's written in those books.

  • Metaphorically, Limud is about intellect, Chinuch is about being a Mentch.

  • Kabbalically, Limud is about 3 Rishonot (חב"ד) and Chinuch is about 7 Tachtonot (Midos).


When I was learning to chant Torah from some Sepharadi teachers they referred to Hinukh as the idea of training via repetition. In other words "do it like I do it, don't ask questions just yet." Then once you can do it well, then you could ask questions and that would be limmud. I have no sources for this.

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