Teach them thoroughly to your [students, who are like your] sons. Speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the way.

-- Devarim 6:7

Classic Questions

Who are "your sons"? (v. 7)

Rashi: These are your students. We find universally that students are termed "sons."

Sifsei Chachamim: The requirement to teach one's son has already been mentioned above: "[This is] so that you fear G‑d, your G‑d, and keep all His supra-rational commands and His commandments that I am commanding you, all the days of your life—you, your son, and your son's son" (6:2). Our verse appears to be an unnecessary repetition of the requirement to teach one's son. Therefore, Rashi concluded that it refers to students.

The Rebbe's Teachings

Your Sons—Your Students (v. 7)

Rashi expounds verse 7 non-literally, explaining that the requirement to teach "your sons" actually refers to "your students."

Sifsei Chachamim explains that Rashi was troubled as to why the Torah instructs us to teach our sons here in verse 7, when this precept was already taught in verse 2: "[This is] so that you fear G‑d, your G‑d, and keep all His supra-rational commands and His commandments that I am commanding you, all the days of your life—you, your son, and your son's son."

However, this explanation is difficult to accept since verse 2 appears to be referring not to a requirement resting upon the father towards his son, but rather to an obligation resting on the children themselves. Furthermore, the verse does not refer to teaching Torah, but rather the observance of mitzvos in general.

Thus, it would appear that Rashi was troubled by a different problem, arising from one of his earlier comments, in Parshas Vayechi:

On the verse, "I will separate them from Ya'akov, and I will scatter them throughout Israel" (49:7), Rashi writes: "There are no paupers, scribes, or teachers of children except from the tribe of Shimon, so that they should be scattered."

Now, if our verse here in Parshas Va'eschanan were taken literally—that a father is obligated to teach his own child Torah and he may not delegate this responsibility to another—then "teachers of children" would only be required for orphans, or for one whose father is totally ignorant and is unable to teach him. Clearly, these are minority cases, so the reader will be troubled: Why does the Torah indicate that an entire tribe will be devoted to teaching children (and to be scribes) when the need for teachers is so rare?

In fact, even disregarding the above, a child who is learning Chumash for the first time—for whom Rashi wrote his commentary—would be troubled by our verse, since he will be aware that both he and his friends are not taught exclusively by their fathers.

Thus, in response to these problems, Rashi explains: "These are your students. We find universally that students are termed 'sons.'"

(Based on Likutei Sichos vol. 9, p. 33ff.)