Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “The greatest possible achievement of any teacher.”

In Jerusalem, there is a teachers’ seminary that, in its first years, used to be a very good school.

The teachers in that seminary were some of the greatest scholars of Jerusalem at the time, and Jerusalem is a town with a fair amount of scholars.

Years later, I asked a number of the graduates of that school who was the person that made the greatest impact on them.

Interestingly enough, many of them said that it was the char lady – a little Yemenite woman with no formal education.

Whenever they had a real problem, the didn’t go to any of the teachers, nor to the principal: they went to this woman to get her advice.

Very few teachers have real knowledge.

In terms of knowledge, most teachers are not qualitatively different from their students, only quantitatively: small ignoramuses, vs. bigger ignoramuses.

It is people like that char lady who are most needed in schools, because it is that kind of people who really matter.

You forget all the rest.

Although it is possible to be both a scholar and a mentsch, there is no inner contradiction.

A good teacher is one who helps his student to learn how to learn and who teaches him to become a mentsch.

Turning a student into a mentsch is the greatest possible achievement of any teacher.

Whoever does that does something God-like, a real imitatio Dei: creating a human being. 

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz