The title quite says it. I'm specifically more interested in unschooling....

It is said in Ktubot, 50a, that:

אמר רב יצחק באושא התקינו שיהא אדם מתגלגל עם בנו עד שתים עשרה שנה מכאן ואילך יורד עמו לחייו

Rashi comments:

מגלגל עם בנו - אם מסרב מללמוד יגלגל עמו בנחת ובדברים רכים

יורד עמו לחייו - לרדותו ברצועה ובחוסר לחם

There's also, in Kidushin, 29:a:

האב חייב בבנו למולו ולפדותו וללמדו תורה ולהשיאו אשה וללמדו אומנות וי"א אף להשיטו במים רבי יהודה אומר כל שאינו מלמד את בנו אומנות מלמדו ליסטות

So far, we can see there's a Mitzva for the father to teach his son Torah and a profession. Nothing is said yet of the methodology. However, in Bava Batra, 21:a, it is related:

דאמר רב יהודה אמר רב ברם זכור אותו האיש לטוב ויהושע בן גמלא שמו שאלמלא הוא נשתכח תורה מישראל שבתחלה מי שיש לו אב מלמדו תורה מי שאין לו אב לא היה למד תורה מאי דרוש (דברים יא, יט) ולמדתם אותם ולמדתם אתם התקינו שיהו מושיבין מלמדי תינוקות בירושלים מאי דרוש (ישעיהו ב, ג) כי מציון תצא תורה ועדיין מי. שיש לו אב היה מעלו ומלמדו מי שאין לו אב לא היה עולה ולמד התקינו שיהו מושיבין בכל פלך ופלך ומכניסין אותן כבן ט"ז כבן י"ז ומי שהיה רבו כועס עליו מבעיט בו ויצא עד שבא יהושע בן גמלא ותיקן שיהו מושיבין מלמדי תינוקות בכל מדינה ומדינה ובכל עיר ועיר ומכניסין אותן כבן שש כבן שבע

According to this, it seems that school is only second choice, comparing to the father himself teaching his son. The Melamed is only Shluach-Mitzva, since the father is incapable of performing it himself (whatever the reason). But if he could, then maybe the known statement from Kidushin, 41:a מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו should take effect.

So I'm able to present some Talmud citations, but I'm asking what's the present Orthodox Rabbis' observation over the subject?

  • I think you missed the best Talmud quote in support of unschooling 'ein adam lomed ela b'makom sh'libo chafetz'. "A person learns only what his heart desires." This supports the unschooling model of the child following his/her own interest and learning what they desire. Aug 27, 2015 at 16:25
  • @Ze'evFelsen very relevant! Thanks. (By the way, it's mi'makom rather than b'makom (see here)).
    – yair
    Aug 27, 2015 at 20:54
  • I believe different places say each. "B'makom" is often understood to mean the subject matter (do I learn Talmud or halacha?) wheras m'makom is understood as teacher or institution (Do I study at Lakewood or the Mir? Rabbi Schwartz' shiur or Rabbi Cohen's?). Sep 1, 2015 at 15:10
  • @Ze'evFelsen I agree that both versions could bear the same meanings (letters בכלם often replace each other), but nonetheless that's the version in my personal Talmud (I just can't link to it here until Internet Of Things will make significant progress :) )
    – yair
    Sep 1, 2015 at 22:08

1 Answer 1


Just one source - but I like it!

The Rebbetzin's Husband blog comments on the importance of a relationship with the Rebbe

I am not among those who want the junior high Rebbe to stick to the curriculum. Sure, I will be frustrated when the curriculum is not completed, and I will want the kids to know much more tochen (content) than they will receive in school, but to my mind the kids need a Rebbe at this stage, far more than they need the tochen.

And reports that

“It has been argued that our elementary schools do our children a disservice by pushing a gemara curriculum at the expense of Tanach, philosophy, tefillah (prayer) and halachah.”

He finds a Maharsha on Sanhedrin 24a. He says,

“Here's an interesting take, though, on the central cause: According to Maharsha, writing in 16th century Poland, the problem is one of arrogance.”

From his comments, he might agree that the curriculum and the relationship to the Rebbe is more important than the actual form (school or home) of delivery.

  • I also read the two blog posts referred by your answer... 1) maybe I'm ignorant, but is he a well-known Rabbi in the Americas? 2) I'm looking for a much more straightforward reference of Rabbis to the issue. Especially, since I got the impression that homeschooling is widely practiced among Orthodox families.
    – yair
    Nov 25, 2012 at 23:28
  • @yair (1) I don't know him. It was the result of a search. (2) I understand and cannot help. Where we live, there are many Orthodox Jewish schools and very little homeschooling. Nov 26, 2012 at 17:05
  • @yair, The Rebbetzin's Husband is R' Mordechai Torczyner. I don't think he's a national-level posek, but he was a pulpit rabbi for a while.
    – Isaac Moses
    Nov 27, 2012 at 19:28
  • I know a few people who have homeschooled their children because day schools were not easily available where they lived. But unschooling strikes me as a different question. Aug 27, 2015 at 16:21

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