Tuesday, July 03, 2007

a six year old's innate curiosity - why was ahron punished?

My youngest daughter has progressed by leaps and bounds from not being able to read independently a few months ago to being able churn through a few easy readers a day by herself (she just turned 6 last month). Included in books she enjoys is the My First Parsha Reader series. After telling us about Balak on Shabbos, she went back to Chukas and told us the story of Moshe hitting the rock and Moshe and Ahron getting punished. Suddenly she stopped in the middle and said, “Wait a minute - What did Aharon do wrong?!”

Two quick points: 1) How does formal education manage to destroy in short time this innate sense of interest, curiosity, and wonder that children are blessed with (and yes, it inevitably does)? 2) The Lubavitcher Rebbe in many sichos assumes that Rashi addresses himself to questions that even a 5 year old child would ask based on the idea of “ben chameish l’mikra”. Interestingly, Rashi does not address this issue.


  1. Anonymous9:52 AM

    Maybe he meant five Davka.

  2. How does that help? It is definitely a question even a little child is troubled which stands out in the parsha.

  3. Yehuda R11:05 AM

    Why blame formal education?Are home schooled or generally uneducated children known to excel in passion for learning and knowledge and bubble with intellectual curiosty?

  4. Any sort of formalization causes the death of true engagement and excitement. I'm sure that people had an easier time maintaining kavanah during davening prior to the codification of the seder ha-tefillah. Necessary evils.

  5. Yes, they are.

    Key quote:
    In his wonderful article, "How Children Learn to be Intelligent" (Educational Leadership, March 1997, Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development) John Abbott writes, "The Process of Learning is wondrously spectacular and messy, and does not easily fit within a closely defined, classroom-based curriculum, particularly for the adolescent. Try as we might to accommodate children's spontaneous questions, too often their natural enthusiasm is dulled by the needs of the (school) system for order."

  6. I suppose one could answer that RMMS is explaining why Rashi chose to answer certain questions, not why he chose to answer *only* certain questions (I haven't seen his exact wording).

  7. Rashi does say that Aharon was punished because he was "nitfal le'ovrei aveirah." It's in the parsha, but not where it belongs. The idea of punishing a nitfal is difficult, and some people say that it means that Aharon should have interfered or protested, but Rashi does address it.

    Someone once asked me why Miriam didn't make it into Eretz Yisroel, and I don't have an answer for that either, but I'm not sure there is a question in the first place. People do die, and sometimes they die at inconvenient times.

  8. Anonymous11:58 PM

    When anything is new its exciting hence the excitement and real curiosity after it becomes repetitive As rashi says LHAGID SHAVACHOS SHEL AHRON SHLO SHINIE even after lighting the menorah Thousands of times he still had the (NOTICE THIS WORD) unadulterated excitement