A number of online sources (such as this article by Rabbi Ari Enkin, or this article by Rabbi Yair Hoffman) mention the tradition that rabbonim used to go out into the woods and teach Torah while pretending to do something that the Romans considered innocuous (like playing with bows and arrows).

So far, I have yet to find an article that mentions a source for this claim.

What is the earliest source that rabbonim used to teach Torah in secret, out in the woods, using a ruse of this nature?

  • 1
    Is it specific to Romans of the Greeks also?
    – Al Berko
    Commented May 23, 2019 at 8:47
  • Keep in mind that they had no books (or computers) to study Torah, they could do it really anywhere - that wasn't so hard as it seems. That's why our forefathers had no problem of studying Torah while shepherding.
    – Al Berko
    Commented May 23, 2019 at 8:50
  • The opposite is said about Rabbi Akiva שהיה מקהיל קהלות ברבים ועוסק בתורה (Berachot 61b)
    – b a
    Commented May 23, 2019 at 8:55
  • @AlBerko More like we rely too heavily on our books, but they knew Torah orally and therefore didn’t need them. They had scrolls at least.
    – DonielF
    Commented May 23, 2019 at 13:11
  • @DonielF One of our hypes. They knew Tanach and some Mishnayos (each one knew a different set - whatever he got from his Rabbis), but that's it - nothing to compare to our printed (and electronic) world.
    – Al Berko
    Commented May 23, 2019 at 16:33


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