A Partnership of Parents and Teachers

Yael Eckstein  |  May 31, 2022

Children at Eitz Chaim School holding flowers and smiling at the camera along with their teacher.

This is the account of the family of Aaron and Moses at the time the LORD spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai. — Numbers 3:1

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Bamidbar, which means “in the desert,” from Numbers 1:1–4:20.

My single most important task as a mother is the education of my children. In fact, the Hebrew word for parent, horeh, is from the same root as the word teacher, moreh. They’re actually two only slightly different conjugations of the verb “to teach.” In other words, in Hebrew it is clear that the primary role of a parent is education. When the Bible commands us to teach children, the command is spoken directly to parents (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

That said, like most busy parents who have other tasks in life, we send our kids to school. But that doesn’t mean that we give up the responsibility for our children’s education. It means that we understand that the school and teachers that we choose must be in-line with our beliefs and values.

In Jewish culture, teachers see themselves as emissaries of the parents — acting on their behalf, answerable to them, and empowered by them to guide their students in a manner consistent with what the parents believe. It is a partnership of parents and teachers together to train up our children.

Partnership of Parents and Teachers

We see the partnership between parents and teachers hinted at in this week’s Torah portion. In the census, listing the families of Israel, the way that Aaron’s family is mentioned raises a question. We read, “This is the account of the family of Aaron and Moses at the time the LORD spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai. The names of the sons of Aaron were Nadab the firstborn and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. Those were the names of Aaron’s sons, the anointed priests, who were ordained to serve as priests” (Numbers 3:1-3).

After introducing the priestly family as “the family of Aaron and Moses,” only Aaron’s offspring are listed. Moses’ children are never mentioned. In fact, Moses’ children were not priests. So, then why are Aaron’s children called “the family of Aaron and Moses?”

Over 1,500 years ago, the rabbis of the Talmud taught that Moses was included here because he was the teacher of Aaron’s children. According to the Talmud, this teaches us that teachers serve a parenting role as well.

Those of us who are parents must never forget that we are responsible for our children’s education. We must find teachers who will teach our children in a way that complements and reinforces the faith and values that we teach in our homes. In that way, parent and teachers, like Moses and Aaron, are in a true partnership to raise godly children.

Your Turn:

We can all contribute to the education of the children in our communities. Whether you are a parent or not, see how you can become involved in teaching and training the next generation of believers at your place of worship.