Table 1.

Talmudic Maxims that Express Esteem for Learning and their Educational Implications.

Jewish Proverbs* Educational Principle
I have learned from all my teachers [Psalms 119.99 with Avot 4.1] One must be willing to learn from everyone; do not miss a learning opportunity
Sit in dust at the feet of Sages and drink their words thirstily [Avot 1.4] Seek out and strive to learn as much as you can from scholars
Find yourself a teacher and acquire a fellow student [Avot 1.6] Responsibility for study is the student’s; look for a mentor and study in tandem with a friend (small-group learning)
It is one’s duty to hear the preaching of scholars [Babylonian Talmud (BT), Yevamot 20a] Strive to attend the teaching of prominent teachers
A very strict teacher cannot teach [Avot 2.5] Teaching demands flexibility
Educate a child according to its abilities [Proverbs 6.6] Student-centered teaching
One who is embarrassed easily is not able to learn [Avot 2.5] Encourage all students, even the meek, to participate and ask questions
May the honor of your student be as precious as your own honor [Avot 4.12] Respect the students
If you see a pupil whose study is laborious, his study is badly arranged [BT, Ta’anit 7a,b] A well-considered curriculum eases the learning process; a teacher must follow the progress of students and, if necessary, make adjustments to meet their needs
I have learned much from my teachers, more from my colleagues, and the most from my students [Ta’anit 7a] Preparing for a lecture augments one’s own learning, but learning from the questions of one’s students can be even more enlightening
Make regular time for learning Torah (the law) [BT, Shabbat 31a] Set a fixed time for your learning
If you forsake study for one day, it will forsake you for two [Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot 14d] Learn every day; become a life-long learner (continuing medical education)
Do not say, “when I have time I will study,” lest you not have time [Avot 2.4] Make learning a priority that is not deferred
One who studies his lesson a hundred times is not the same as one who studies it one hundred and one times [BT, Hagigah 9b] Repeated learning over and over again is beneficial and well advised even when seemingly superfluous for it deepens knowledge and understanding
It is not incumbent on you to complete the whole task, but you cannot neglect it [Avot 2.16] A good student (and doctor!) never gives up
Any talmudic scholar whose inside is not like his outside is not a talmudic scholar [BT, Yoma 72b] Educational and professional integrity
Every place of study has its own innovation [BT, Hagigah 3a] New ideas are generated in every academic environment
Who is a scholar? One who can quote the law at any time and place [BT, Shabbat 114a] Become an expert in what you do
The wits of a scholar are sharpened by his fellow scholars [Bereshit Rabba]
As iron whets another, so scholars sharpen each other’s wits [BT, Ta’anit 7a]
Discussion and debate ensure deeper understanding and learning
Study leads to action [BT, Kiddushin 40b] Theory precedes and modifies practice
*References to sources are in brackets.
RMMJ Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal Rambam Health Care Campus 2017 July; 8(3): e0033. ISSN: 2076-9172
Published online 2017 July 1. doi: 10.5041/RMMJ.10309