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    First lessons – Vayikra

    In the ancient Jewish curriculum, children’s Torah education began with Vayikra, the Book of Leviticus.

    Modern educators who hear this throw up their hands in horror. Leviticus? All those sacrifices and offerings? How could that be fitting material for a young child?

    The rabbinic sages explain, “The sacrifices are pure and the children are pure: let the pure children learn about the subject of purity”.

    The modern critics are not likely to be mollified at this thought. Yet without necessarily advocating a total return to the textual study of Vayikra at the beginning of primary school, we can still discern immense wisdom in the old rabbinic idea.

    Think of the diet with which the youngest children are fed these days – violence, hatred, immodesty, vulgarity and all the rest. Parents don’t like it, but what can they do? The culture of impurity permeates everything.

    The rabbis knew something that our age needs to rediscover – that children’s education needs to begin with sweet dreams, not ugly nightmares.

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