1

You must honor and fear your Rebbe [teacher] more than your father, because your father [only] brought you to life in this world, but your Rebbe brings you to life in the World to Come.

א

חַיָּב אָדָם בִּכְבוֹד רַבּוֹ וְירְאָתוֹ יותֵר מִבְּשֶׁל אָבִיו, כִי אָבִיו הֱבִיאוֹ לְחַיֵי הָעוֹלָם הַזֶה, וְרַבּוֹ מְבִיאוֹ לְחַיֵי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא.

2

It is written, "In the presence of the elderly you shall rise and you shall respect an elder."1 "An elder," in this context refers to a Torah scholar as it is said, "Gather to me seventy men from the elders of Yisrael"2 (and there certainly the situation called for wisdom as it is written, "Whom you know to be the elders of the people and its officers.")3 Therefore, it is a positive command to rise before a Torah scholar who is distinguished in the knowledge of Torah, even if he is not advanced in years and is not your teacher. It is also a mitzvah to rise before an elderly person if he is at least seventy years old, even if he is an ignorant person, provided he is not a wicked person. Even to an elderly person who is not Jewish, you should talk respectfully and give him a helping hand.

ב

כְּתִיב, מִפְּנֵי שֵׂיבָה תָּקוּם וְהָדַרְתָּ פְּנֵי זָקֵן. זָקֵן זֶה, פֵּרוּשׁוֹ תַּלְמִיד חָכָם, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, אֶסְפָה לִּי שִבְעִים אִישׁ מִזִּקְנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל, (וְהָתָם וַדַּאי בְּחָכְמָה תַּלְיָא מִלְּתָא, כְּדִכְתִיב, אֲשֶׁר יָדַעְתָּ כִּי הֵם זִקְנֵי הָעָם וְשֹׁטְרָיו). לָכֵן מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה לָקוּם מִפְּנֵי תַלְמִיד חָכָם מֻפְלָג בַּתּוֹרָה, אֲפִלּוּ אֵינוֹ זָקֵן בַּשָׁנִים וְאֵינוֹ רַבּוֹ. וְכֵן מִצְוָה לָקוּם מִפְּנֵי שֵׂיבָה, דְּהַיְנוּ בֶּן שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה, וַאֲפִלּוּ הוּא עַם הָאָרֶץ, וּבִלְבַד שֶׁלֹּא יְהֵא רָשָׁע. וַאֲפִלּוּ זָקֵן גּוֹי, מְהַדְּרִים אוֹתוֹ בִּדְבָרִים וְנוֹתְנִים לוֹ יָד לְסָמְכוֹ.

3

When three people, (one of whom is a Rav,) are walking together, the Rav should walk in the middle. The other two should fall back slightly and walk at his side, the older one on the right and the younger one on the left.

ג

שְׁלשָׁה שֶהָיוּ מְהַלְּכִין בַדֶּרֶך, הָרַב בְּאֶמְצַע, וְהַשְּׁנַיִם לַאֲחוֹרָיו, וְכָל אֶחָד מְצַדֵּד עַצְמוֹ לִצְדָדִין, הַגָּדוֹל לַיָמִין וְהַקָּטֹן לַשְּׂמֹאל.

4

It is a grave sin to humiliate talmidei chachomim or to hate them. Jerusalem was not destroyed until they began to humiliate talmidei chachomim, as it is said, "But they mocked the messengers of God and disgraced His words, and scoffed at His prophets."4 That is to say they humiliated those who teach His words. This is also what the Torah says, "And if you will despise My statutes,"5 [that is to say] "If you despise those who teach My statutes." And anyone who humiliates Torah scholars has no portion in the World to Come, and he is included among those of whom it is said: "For He has denigrated the word of Adonoy."6 It is forbidden to make servile use of one who studies Torah laws.7

ד

עָוֹן גָּדוֹל הוּא לְבַזּוֹת תַּלְמִידֵי חֲכָמִים אוֹ לִשְׂנאוֹתָן. לֹא חָרְבָה יְרוּשָׁלַיִם, עַד שֶׁבִּזּוּ בָהּ תַּלְמִידֵי חֲכָמִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וַיִהְיוּ מַלְעִיבִים בְּמַלְאֲכֵי הָאֱלֹהִים וּבוֹזִים דְּבָרָיו וּמִתַּעְתְּעִים בִּנְבִיאָיו, כְּלוֹמַר, בּוֹזִים מְלַמְּדֵי דְבָרָיו. וְכֵן זֶה שֶׁאָמְרָה תוֹרָה, וְאִם בְּחֻקֹּתַי תִּמְאָסוּ, מְלַמְּדֵי חֻקּוֹתַי תִּמְאָסוּ. וְכָל הַמְבַזֶּה אֶת הַחֲכָמִים, אֵין לוֹ חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא, וְהוּא בִּכְלַל כִּי דְבַר ה' בָּזָה. וְאָסוּר לְשַׁמֵּשׁ בְּמִי שֶהוּא שׁוֹנֶה הֲלָכוֹת.

5

If a Torah scholar has merchandise to sell we do not permit anyone to sell such merchandise until he sells his merchandise. This is true only when there is no gentile selling such merchandise. But if a gentile is selling [such merchandise] this is not so because the Torah scholar will not profit from this, and it will needlessly cause loss to the other Jews.

ה

תַּלְמִיד חָכָם שֶׁיֵשׁ לוֹ סְחוֹרָה לִמְכֹּר, אֵין מַנִּיחִין לְשׁוּם אָדָם לִמְכֹּר מֵאוֹתָהּ סְחוֹרָה עַד שֶׁיִמְכֹּר הוּא תְּחִלָּה אֶת שֶׁלּוֹ. וְדַוְקָא בִּדְלֵיכָּא גּוִֹים דִּמְזַבְּנֵי, אֲבָל אִי אִכָּא גּוֹיִם דִּמְזַבְּנֵי, לָא, דְּהָא לֵית לֵהּ רַוְחָא לַתַּלְמִיד חָכָם, וְאַפְסוּדֵי לְהַנָךְ בִּכְדִי לָא מַפְסְדֵינָן.

6

To be accepted as a Torah scholar in his generation,8 one must be competent to discuss and debate topics of [the Written and Oral] Torah, and have proper understanding of most of the Talmud and Codes of Law, and Torah study is his main occupation. Even if he has a profession or a business with which to support himself, and provide the needs of his family, but not [necessarily] to amass wealth; and whenever he is free from his occupation he studies Torah; [if all these requirements apply to him then] according to the Law he is exempt from all forms of taxes and levies even if he is wealthy. And even the personal tax that is incumbent upon each person, the townsmen are obligated to pay for him. [However] everything is dependent on the discretion of the elected town leaders.9

ו

מִי שֶׁהוּא מֻחְזָק לְתַלְמִיד חָכָם בְּדוֹרוֹ, דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁיּוֹדֵעַ לִשָּׂא וְלִתֵּן בַּתּוֹרָה, וּמֵבִין מִדַּעְתּוֹ בְּרֹב מְקוֹמוֹת הַשַ"ס וּפוֹסְקִים, וְתוֹרָתוֹ אֻמָּנוּתוֹ, וַאֲפִלּוּ יֶשׁ לוֹ מְעַט אֻמָּנוֹת אוֹ מְעַט מַשָּׂא וּמַתָּן לְהִתְפַּרְנֵס בּוֹ כְּדֵי צָרְכֵי בְנֵי בֵיתוֹ וְלֹא לְהִתְעַשֵּׁר, וּבְכָל שָׁעָה שֶׁהוּא פָּנוּי מֵעֲסָקָיו הוּא עוֹסֵק בַּתּוֹרָה, מִצַּד הַדִּין הוּא פָּטוּר מִכָּל מִינֵי מִסִּים וּמְכָסִים, וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא עָשִׁיר. וַאֲפִלּוּ מַס הַמֻּטָּל עַל כָּל אִישׁ בִּפְרָטוּת, חַיָבִים בְּנֵי הָעִיר לְשַׁלֵּם עֲבוּרוֹ. וְהַכֹּל תָּלוּי בִּרְאוֹת עֵינֵי טוֹבֵי הָעִיר.

7

A scholar who slights the mitzvos and is not God-fearing, is to be treated like the insignificant men of the community.

ז

תַּלְמִיד חָכָם הַמְזַלְזֵל בַּמִצְוֹת וְאֵין בּוֹ יִרְאַת שָׁמַיִם, הֲרֵי הוּא כְּקַל שֶׁבַּצִבּוּר.

8

When a kohein and an Israelite are equal in Torah scholarship it is a positive Scriptural mitzvah to give precedence to the kohein, as it is said, "You shall sanctify Him."10 And our Rabbis, of blessed memory, explained that it refers to all matters of sanctity; that in all matters of importance he should be sanctified. He is to be called first to the Torah reading, and to be the first speaker at all public gatherings, and to speak first and expound on the Torah. He should also speak first in the yeshivah. Also at a meal, he is first to say the Berachah of Hamotzi and to lead the Birkas Hamazon. He should be given the choice portion before the others who are dining, unless an Israelite is present who is greater than him in Torah [learning], in which case you should give the scholar the choice portion.11 But when a kohein divides a partnership with his friend, an Israelite, the Israelite need not give him the better share, for it is not honorable for the kohein to take the better share, for one who covets the better share will never see a sign of blessing. When a kohein is not present it is best to give preference to a Levi before an Israelite in all things mentioned here, if they are equal in Torah scholarship.

ח

כֹּהֵן וְיִשְֹרָאֵל שֶׁהֵם שָׁוִים בַּחָכְמָה, מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה מִן הַתּוֹרָה לְהַקְדִּים אֶת הַכֹּהֵן, שֶׁנֶאֱמַר, וְקִדַּשְׁתּוֹ, וְדָרְשׁוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה, לְכָל דָּבָר שֶׁבִּקְדֻשָּׁה. כְּלוֹמַר, בְּכָל דָּבָר שֶיֵרָאֶה גָּדוֹל, הוּא מְקֻדָּשׁ, לִהְיוֹת רִאשׁוֹן לִקְרִיאַת הַתּוֹרָה, וְלִהְיוֹת רֹאשׁ הַמְדַבְּרִים בְּכָל קִבּוּץ עָם, לְדַבֵּר וְלִדְרוֹשׁ תְּחִלָּה. וְכֵן בִּישִיבָה יְדַבֵּר בָּרֹאשׁ. וְכֵן בִּסְעוּדָה הוּא קוֹדֵם לְבָרֵךְ הַמּוֹצִיא וּבִרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן, וְלִתֵּן לוֹ מָנָה יָפָה תְּחִלָּה לְכָל הַמְּסֻבִּין, אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן יֵשׁ יִשְֹרָאֵל גָּדוֹל מִמֶּנוּ בַּחָכְמָה, אֲזַי יִתְּנוּ לְהֶחָכָם הַמָּנָה הַיָפָה תְּחִלָּה. אֲבָל כְּשֶׁהַכֹּהֵן חוֹלֵק אֵיזוֹ שֻׁתָּפוּת עִם חֲבֵרוֹ יִשְֹרָאֵל, אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לִתֵּן הַחֵלֶק הַיָפֶה, שֶׁאֵין זֶה דֶרֶךְ כָּבוֹד שֶׁיִטּוֹל אֶת הַחֵלֶק הַיָפֶה. שֶׁכָּל הַנּוֹתֵן עֵינָיו בְּחֵלֶק הַיָפֶה, אֵינוֹ רוֹאֶה סִימָן בְּרָכָה לְעוֹלָם. בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁאֵין כֹּהֵן, טוֹב לְהַקְדִּים הַלֵּוִי בְּכָל אֵלּוּ, אֵם הֵם שָׁוִים בַּחָכְמָה.

9

It is forbidden to make servile use of a kohein. This applies even in our time, and it is like taking unwarranted benefit of a sacred object. As it is said, "You shall sanctify him for he offers the bread of your God."12 And even now though we have no sacrifices, he retains his sanctity. If the kohein wants to forego the honors due him, he may do so for the kehunah is his possession and he may forego its honors, and permit an Israelite to use him as a servant.13 And certainly he may give the Israelite the honor of preceding him in the aforementioned matters.

ט

אָסוּר לְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בְּכֹהֵן אֲפִלּוּ בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה, וּכְמוֹעֵל בַּהֶקְדֵֹּש הוּא, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וְקִדַּשְתּוֹ כִּי אֶת לֶחֶם אֱלֹהֶיךָ הוּא מַקְרִיב. וְאַף עַכְֹשָו, שֶׁאֵין לָנוּ קָרְבָּנוֹת, בִּקְדֻשָׁתוֹ הוּא עומֵד. וְאִם הַכֹּהֵן מוֹחֵל עַל כְּבוֹדוֹ, מֻתָּר, כִּי הַכְּהֻנָּה שֶׁלּוֹ הִיא, וְיָכוֹל לִמְחוֹל עַל כְּבוֹדָהּ וְלִתֵּן רְשׁוּת לְיִשְֹרָאֵל לְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בּוֹ. וּמִכָּל שֶׁכֵּן שֶׁיָכוֹל לַחֲלוֹק כָּבוֹד לְיִשְֹרָאֵל לְהַקְדִּימוֹ בַּדְּבָרִים הַנֶאֱמָרִים לְעֵיל.