People vary on the basis of four factors:

1. their general occupation: full-time Torah scholars or business people, 2. their financial situation: wealthy or poor, 3. their habits, whether good or bad, 4. their place of residence: in a small or large city.

Now although people of all six categories - Torah scholars, businessmen, rich people, paupers, inhabitants of small cities, and inhabitants of large cities - are all obligated to observe the Torah's commandments, to establish fixed times for Torah study, and to conduct themselves uprightly, yet they are distinct insofar as their education and guidance relates to their day-to- day affairs.

To be well-structured and secure, education and guidance must be geared to a pupil's age.

"Man is born [like] a wild young donkey," and as explained in Midrash Rabbah, Koheles, chapter one, the progression of man's growth is as follows: "At one year old, a child is like a king; two and three years old, similar to a pig; ten years old, he jumps like a kid goat," and so forth.

A young child's education and guidance differs from an older child's.

A young child's education is primarily in cleanliness, modesty and in proper manners, that he not eat like a glutton, and in a similar small, yet essential matters, for these constitute the main differences between an animal and a human being.

An older child's education and guidance is on a higher level.

His education is chiefly [in the following areas:] to observe the recitation of basic blessings, [to cultivate a proper attitude toward] study, [and to develop] respect for others, to honor one’s parents and to obey one's teachers.

Education of a child at this age is different from the education of one who is approaching the age of bar mitzvah, when the emphasis is placed on fulfilling the commandments meticulously, observing the times of communal prayer, studying diligently, being careful not to waste time, and learning from those superior to him.

Thus education characteristically elevates a pupil from level to level, until he reaches the level that best suits him.

Ethical sustenance is similar to bodily sustenance: Everyone knows that good meat and strong broth strengthen man's faculties more than does a drop of milk in sweetened water.

Nevertheless, if one were to feed strong soup and good meat to a one-month baby, the infant would die. And if one were to feed only sweetened water with a drop of milk to a grown-up, the adult would become weak.

The same is true regarding ethical sustenance.

It must be tailored to children based on their age, and to adults based on their classification.

For just as a well-structured and reliable education and guidance must be suited to one's age, so must it be suited to one's category.

Like a garment which must match a person's measurements - if too short, it is useless, and if too long, a person will stumble - so too with education or guidance, if unsuitable, it will not only prove useless, but harmful as well - whether because it fell short [in providing what was really required], or whether because it was overly ambitious.


Education and guidance for adults should be geared to their category. For children and youngsters, it should be geared to their age.