Recently, doing some research for a curriculum project on Jewish values, I stumbled upon these delightful excerpts from the Talmud (redacted circa 500 CE). They really made me laugh.
Keep in mind, they were written in a culture (Babylonia) where there were no trade schools or formal educational institutions. All skills and knowledge were passed down person to person. So … to refuse to ever teach another person seems like it would be the ultimate “f*#k you” gesture to your neighbors — and the ultimate act of selfness and sabotage against your own community.
What hilarious and vivid images they invoke!
1) From B. Yoma 38b
Hygros ben Levi excelled in the art of singing but would not teach others. It is told of him that when he was about to make a high trill, he would put his thumb into his mouth, place his index finger between the two parts of his mustache, and produce all kinds of sounds at such high intensity that, to a man, his brother priests would be thrown backward.
2) Also from B. Yoma 38b
Our masters taught: Ben Kamtzar would not teach [his art] of writing. It is said of him that he would hold four pens between his five fingers, and if there was a word of four letters, he could write it in one movement. He was asked, “What reason have you for refusing to teach [your art]?” The others mentioned earlier provided an explanation for their refusal, but Ben Kamtzar provided none. To the former apply the words “The memory of the righteous shall be for a blessing.” While to Ben Kamtzar and his like apply the words “But the name of the wicked shall rot.”
… In other words Don’t Be A Jerk!
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