Kiddushin 30

Teach your children (and grandchildren) well.

A mishnah on yesterday’s daf outlined several mitzvot that are incumbent upon parents. One of these is the obligation to teach Torah to one’s children. Today’s Gemara asks: What about grandchildren?

The topic comes up during a conversation about the ideal curriculum of Torah study, in the course of which we encounter a sage who learned Torah from his grandfather. The Gemara then brings a challenge. 

Is one’s grandfather obligated? Isn’t it taught: “And you shall teach them to your sons” (Deuteronomy 11:19).

But not your sons’ sons? And how do I understand: “But make them known to your sons and to your sons’ sons” (Deuteronomy 4:9)?

To say to you that whoever teaches his son Torah, the verse ascribes him (credit) as though he taught him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the end of all generations.

The first prooftext is one many of us will recognize from the second paragraph of the Shema, which mandates that one teach Torah to their children. The verse does not mention grandchildren, and could even be read as specifically excluding them by not mentioning them. So a second prooftext is brought, which reads in full: “But take utmost care and watch yourselves scrupulously, so that you do not forget the things that you saw with your own eyes and so that they do not fade from your mind as long as you live. And make them known to your children and to your children’s children.”

In other words, the commandment to teach one’s children extends to grandchildren. 

This notion is reflected in the Hadran, the extended version of the Kaddish that is recited upon completing a tractate of Talmud study, which includes this line: “May the merit of the all of the TannaimAmoraim and Torah scholars stand by me and my children, that the Torah shall not depart from my mouth and from the mouth of my children and my children’s children forever.”

We all hope that when we teach our children, they will retain some of what we teach them and in turn instruct their own children, who will pass the learning down through the generations. But being able to teach your grandchildren yourself is particularly special. The rabbis of the Talmud felt this significance as well. Further down the daf we find this story: 

Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba encountered Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, who had placed a covering over his head and brought his grandchild to the synagogue. Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba said to him: Why this fuss (that you are in such a hurry that you do not have time to dress yourself properly)? 

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said to him: Is it insignificant, that which is written: “But make them known to your sons,” and juxtaposed to it: “The day when you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb”? 

From then onward, Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba would not taste meat before he had read to his grandchild and added (to the child’s studies from the day before). 

The stories we tell our children will likely be retold to our grandchildren. But today’s daf reiterates that in addition to family lore, we are obligated to share words of Torah, too. 

Read all of Kiddushin 30 on Sefaria.

This piece originally appeared in a My Jewish Learning Daf Yomi email newsletter sent on September 12th, 2023. If you are interested in receiving the newsletter, sign up here.

Discover More

Kiddushin 33

Torah in the bathhouse.

Kiddushin 58

One strike and you're out.