Chagigah 15b, in the context of relating how Rabbi Meir learned Torah from Acheir, states:

מאי דכתיב (מלאכי ב, ז) כי שפתי כהן ישמרו דעת ותורה יבקשו מפיהו כי מלאך ה' צבאות הוא אם דומה הרב למלאך ה' צבאות יבקשו תורה מפיהו ואם לאו אל יבקשו תורה מפיהו אמר ר"ל ר"מ קרא אשכח ודרש (משלי כב, יז) הט אזנך ושמע דברי חכמים ולבך תשית לדעתי לדעתם לא נאמר אלא לדעתי רב חנינא אמר מהכא (תהלים מה, יא) שמעי בת וראי והטי אזנך ושכחי עמך ובית אביך וגו' קשו קראי אהדדי לא קשיא הא בגדול הא בקטן

'What is [the meaning of] the verse, 'For my lips, a priest shall guard; knowledge and instruction they shall ask from his mouth, for he is an angel of Hashem of Legions (Malachi 2:7)'? If the teacher is like an angel of Hashem of Legions, they should ask instruction from his mouth; And if not, they should not ask instruction from his mouth.'" Reish Lakish said, "Rabbi Meir found a verse and expounded it: 'Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise ones; and put your heart to my knowledge (Proverbs 22:17).' 'To their knowledge' was not said, but rather 'to my knowledge'." Rav Chanina said from here: "Listen, daughter, and see, and incline your ear and forget your nation and your father's house... (Psalms 45:11)." The verses contradict each other! There is no contradiction. This one (ie. when there is no need for a teacher like an angel) is with an adult, and this one (ie. when there is a need for a teacher like an angel) is with a child.

From my personal experience, I know that, while the teachers at my school were very good, only one or two of them seemed to be without imperfections-- and they probably, somewhere along the line, where not perfectly Malach-like.

What is the heter for our chinuch institutions to hire people who aren't of angelic perfection to teach Torah to minors? Is it out of necessity, or is there a different/additional reason?

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    "only one or two of them seemed to be imperfections--" What do you mean by this? Also, isn't the question more directly placed on the students themselves (or their custodians) since they are the ones inclining their ears - as the first-person premise of your question seems to set up? Also, I think the parenthetical reference to "need" is your addition. The advice to listen or not listen to them doesn't sound like it necessitates an obligation. Does it? – WAF May 20 '16 at 20:06
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    Why only ask about minors? Is the space of adult educators completely filled with perfect angels? – mevaqesh May 20 '16 at 20:12
  • @WAF, I assume he meant "without imperfections," and I edited accordingly. ephraim, please edit further if I'm wrong. – Isaac Moses May 20 '16 at 20:28
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    @mevaqesh The Gemara's Teirutz is that adults can learn from an imperfect person, but children cannot. That was the justification for Rabbi Meir learning from Acheir. – ephraim helfgot May 20 '16 at 21:33
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    Ephraim nobody is a malach. That together with the fact that we discuss Acher as the one who was not comparable to a malach seems to imply that not being Domeh to a Malach means something else and just about anyone, besides Acher like individuals would qualify. – user6591 May 20 '16 at 22:05

Shearim Mitzuyanim Bihalacha points out the interesting language concerning Torah 'from his mouth', why did the Gemara not simply say from him?

He quotes the introduction of the Darkei Teshuva to answer this, and I think it will answer your question as well.

Darkei Teshuva wrote: if the Rav says a halacha with proper proofs, then one can learn (be מקבל) from him even if he is not like an angle of God, and concerning this King David said: מכל מלמדי השכלתי from all my teachers I have learned, and:

'איזהו חכם. הלומד מכל אדם. Who is wise? One who learns from any man' (Avos 4 1). However if the Rav does not bring good proofs, but rather says things of his own mind then he would need to be comparable to a Malach of Hashem.

Rabbi Brown in the Sh.M.B. uses this to explain the expression 'seeking Torah from his mouth' which he says implies that the Rav is saying a novelty, from his own mouth without proofs.

Rabbi Brown points to two places where we find just such an expression which actually meant the ideas were said without real backing:

פסחים קיד: רבא הוה מהדר אסילקא וארוזא הואיל ונפיק מפומיה דרב הונא.

סוכה לב: רב אחא בריה דרבא מהדר אתרי וחד הואיל ונפק מפומיה דרב כהנא.

So too with Rebbeim in the yeshivos. None are saying unfounded chidushim for which they would need to be like angels. They are rather teaching the simple truths for which even a non angelic Rebbi would suffice.


This emphasizes the double aspect of admiration. The taught subject and the teacher means the same. Student could not utilize his critical thinking at beginning.
If the teacher is a bad man, he can take advantage of students' innocence.
If the teacher is an average human being, this bias is not a problem.

We do not forget the first Mitsva for minors: "ושננתם לבניך. ולימדתם אותם את בניכם"‎ [1]. So as the father himself can not be perfect before, he can not expect this from the teacher. A teacher is a Shaliach of the father. If the father sees a real problem in the teacher, he should change teachers. But if he is a normal man, it is Kasher. As a child thinks that his father is perfect in the first years and progressively understands that his father is an human being, the same will be for the teacher. The problem is when there is a need to combat the teacher. The child is not able. Or, for that matter, the simple man with a very erudite Apikoros Teacher.

[1] See B.B. 21a: For at first if a child had a father, his father taught him, and if he had no father he did not learn at all.

By what [verse of the Scripture] did they guide themselves? - By the verse, And ye shall teach them to your children. laying the emphasis on the word 'ye'. They then made an ordinance that teachers of children should be appointed in Jerusalem. By what verse did they guide themselves? - By the verse, For from Zion shall the Torah go forth. Even so, however, if a child had a father, the father would take him up to Jerusalem and have him taught there, and if not, he would not go up to learn there.

  • What is the heter for our chinuch institutions to hire people who aren't of angelic perfection to teach Torah to minors? Is it out of necessity, or is there a different/additional reason? I don't see how this answers the question. – ephraim helfgot May 22 '16 at 23:47
  • It is the same heter that a father has to learn with his son because of veshinantam levanecha. @ephraimhelfgot – kouty May 23 '16 at 3:43
  • But do you have a source that says that we use Veshinantam Levanecha to be lenient? Remember, Veshinantam Levanecha applied in the time of the Gemara, and yet the Gemara still says this statement. – ephraim helfgot May 23 '16 at 11:00
  • @ephraimhelfgot See the new edition of the question. It help a little? – kouty May 23 '16 at 11:13
  • I'm still not sure if you're addressing the question: why don't we vet our teacher system so only Malachim are accepted? This Gemara in Bava Batra does not say anything about teacher caliber. – ephraim helfgot May 23 '16 at 11:18

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