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Rabi Juda said in the name of Rav, “Truly, the man to be remembered for blessing is Yehoshua ben Gamla (a Kohein Gadol in the decade before the Churban), for were it not for him Yisrael would have forgotten the Torah. Because in former times he who had a father was instructed by him, but the one who had no father did not learn the Torah at all. They guided themselves by the passage in Scriptures (Devarim 11:19), ‘And you shall teach them to your children,’ laying the emphasis on the word ‘you.’”

They then made an ordinance that teachers of children should be appointed in Jerusalem. Even so, however, if a child had a father, the father would take him up to Jerusalem and have him taught there but the one who had no father had no one to bring him.

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Thus teachers were appointed in the capitals of each province and boys entered school at the age of 16 or 17. However, when the teacher punished them they would rebel and leave the school.

Then came Yehoshua ben Gamla who ordained that teachers of young children should be appointed in each district and each town and that children should enter school at the age of six or seven.

Rav said to Rabi Shmuel ben Shilat, “Until six years of age take no pupils, from six and upward take the child and feed him with knowledge as you feed an ox.”

Rav said again to Rabi Shmuel ben Shilat, “When you must beat a child, do so with a shoelace only. If this causes the child to be good, then well and good; if not, leave him in the company of his diligent comrades whose steady progress he will see and this will improve him.”

Rav further said, “The number of pupils to be assigned to each teacher is 25. If there are 50, we appoint two teachers. If there are 40, we appoint an assistant at the expense of the town” (Bava Basra 21a).

 

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Rabi Shmuel ben Sosrati

Rabi Shmuel once visited the city of Rome. While he was there, the queen lost some of her jewelry and Rabi Shmuel found them. Soon afterwards a proclamation was posted throughout the city stating that whoever found the jewelry and restored them to the queen within 30 days would be rewarded, but one who would bring them after this time would be killed.

Rabi Shmuel did not restore them immediately. After the 30 days had elapsed, he went to the royal palace and returned the lost jewelry to the queen.

“Haven’t you been in the city during the 30 days in which you were requested to return the jewelry?” the Queen asked him.

“Yes, I was in the city,” answered Rabi Shmuel.

“Did you not read the proclamation requesting that the restoration of the jewelry be made within 30 days?”

“Yes, I read the proclamation,” answered Rabi Shmuel.

“Then why did you not return my jewelry earlier?” asked the Queen.

“I waited for 30 days to pass in order that you should not think that I returned the jewelry because of the fear of your power and sword. I returned your jewelry because I fear G-d,” answered Rabi Shmuel.

Hearing this reply, the Queen exclaimed, “Blessed be the G-d of the Jews!”

 

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The Inheritance

A rich man had three sons. Before his death he called them to his bed and told them, “One of you shall inherit a heap of dust, the other one a heap of bones and the third a heap of wool.”

They did not understand their father’s words and went to Rabi Banaa to ask for his advice. The rav asked them, “Do you have fields?”

They answered “yes.”

The rav asked again, “Do you have cattle?”

Again they answered in the affirmative.

Finally, the rav asked, “Do you have linen?”

The answer again was “Yes.”

Rabi Banaa said, “This is what your father meant. One of you shall inherit the fields, the other the cattle and the third one the linens.”

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