In פרק קנין תורה (read as though it were the sixth chapter of Avos during the annual, repeated reading of Avos), we have:

הלא דברים קל וחומר ומה דוד מלך ישראל שלא למד מאחיתופל אלא שני דברים בלבד קראו רבו אלופו ומידעו הלומד מחברו פרק אחד או הלכה אחת או פסוק אחד או דבור אחד או אפילו אות אחת על אחת כמה וכמה שצריך לנהג בו כבוד

David, king of Israel, who learned from Achisofel nothing more than merely two things, and called [Achisofel] his master…, so one who learns from his fellow a single chapter, a single law, a single verse, a single statement, or even a single letter, all the more so must he act toward him with respect.

Why don't we say dayo laba min hadin lihyos kanidon (from Bava Kama 2:5) and demand honor only from a student of two things, not from a student of one?

  • Seems that the triple praise of Achitofel was superlative. I'd speculate that this implies that teaching less than two items would entitle someone to at least one honorific.
    – Fred
    Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 7:26

2 Answers 2


The Baal Shem Tov asked this question (Keser Shem Tov Siman 22, quoted by the Lubavitcher Rebbe here) and answered as follows: The Gemora in Chagiga (3b) says that words of Torah are compared to a plant, for just as a plant grows and increases, so the words of Torah grow and increase. This means that when one teaches a Torah idea to another, he is not merely communicating information, but is presenting him with an idea that continues to grow and multiply. However, the Baal Shem Tov writes that this is only the case if the teacher is an upright individual. If he is a rosha, all he convey is the bare information, devoid of the growing life of Torah. This explains the Kal Vechomer: If Achisofel - a rosha who only gave Dovid Hamelech two pieces of information and nothing more - was called "My Master", how much more so "chaveyro", one's counterpart in Torah who can impart words of Torah that grow and multiply deserves honour.


The Midrash Shmuel in his commentary there raises the possibility (but acknowledges that it is forced) that this Beraisa follows the opinion of R. Tarfon who allows a kal vachomer even when it is "dayo", or that the Beraisa is not speaking about a "real" kal vachomer.

ואין דעתי נוחה מאלו הערכין משום דנימא דיו לבא מן הדין להיות כנדון מה שם בדוד היה על שלמד שני דברים אף בכל אדם צריך שני דברים ולא על אות אחת לבדו וענין הדיו נפקא לן ממרים שנא' ואביה ירוק ירק בפניה הלא תכלם ז' ימים ק"ו לשכינה י"ל יום ואעפ"כ אמר הכתוב תסגר שבעת ימים וא"כ אין מקום כלל לפי' המפרשים רק אם נאמר שברייתא זו אתיא כרבי טרפון דלית ליה דיו או שנאמר שאין זה ק"ו גמור רק גלוי מלתא בעלמא וכל זה דוחק

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