True wisdom comes from the deep wells of the commandments. As disciples, we need to study the Torah and make it a fixed practice in our daily lives.
After all, how do we live Torah if we do not know what it says? However, learning Torah and then applying it in our own lives is not enough. If we just did that, the Torah would never spread to future generations or the lost. On the contrary, each of us is also responsible to teach it to others.
Teaching the Wise
Proverbs 9 consists of two different invitations: one from “wisdom” and the other from the “woman of folly.” Wisdom prepares her house and table and invites us in to dine. She has prepared everything in advance to make things ready for us. The “woman of folly” on the other hand, sits at her doorway attempting to lure in passersby. There is no indication she has done anything to prepare for guests; rather she advocates taking and eating food that is not hers to give.
What is amazing is that both call out with the same line, “Whoever is naïve let him turn in here.” They are both looking for those who are searching for truth; one desires to bring them to righteousness, the other to harm. Our lives are filled with choices like this (for good or for evil) every day.
Yet in the middle of these two invitations is some advice about correcting and teaching others. In verse 7 we read:
He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, and he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, Reprove a wise man and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning. (Proverbs 9:7-9)
Some people are teachable, and others are not. We need to be careful about who we choose to spend our energies on. Those who do not want to hear will not appreciate what we have to say, but those who are thirsty for truth long to hear proper instruction. It reminds us of the Master Yeshua’s words in Matthew from the Sermon on the Mount:
Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. (Matthew 7:6)
Pearls in Jewish thought are teachings of Torah. The Master urges us not to waste the precious words he shares with us on those who do not have ears to hear. While we need to be careful about with whom we share the words of Torah, nevertheless it is our job to teach.
The Commandment to Teach
You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:7)
According to traditional interpretation, “You shall teach them” is a commandment to teach the Torah. “Sons” here is not necessarily limited to the literal sense of children; it was broadened by the sages of Israel to include one’s disciples. Yeshua seems to agree; he fulfilled this injunction to teach by raising up twelve disciples who would then go and share the truth of Messiah and Torah with the nations. He tells them:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20, emphasis mine)
The Apostle Paul also exhorts us to teach others telling us to be ready “in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2).
This can seem overwhelming, but realize that this does not mean that we will all be Bible teachers or congregational leaders. It can be something as simple as offering advice to a younger sibling about a difficult decision or giving someone encouragement from the words of Yeshua when they are going through a tough time. If we look for it, most of us are given chances to teach Torah every day. We just have to keep our eyes open and God will give us opportunities.