Should we focus on pshuto shel mikra with our children and our young students instead of focusing on Rashi?
No, absolutely not. It’s such a wonderful thing to learn Rashi with little ones, because Rashi tells them there’s a pnimiyus to Torah, it’s not merely pashtus. If you get into your head that the whole Torah is nothing but the plain pshat of the pesukim, and later in life you have to take this big poshut who learned everything b’pashtus and teach him that the Torah is chochmas Elokim and it’s full of sodos, things that are beneath the surface עמוק עמוק עד אין חקר, it becomes a very difficult battle for him. All his life there will be battling in his head, the pashtus and the pnimiyus.
So at the very beginning Rashi is taught to little children and right away they know Bereishis doesn’t mean stam “In the beginning.” They know right away that Bereishis means בשביל ישראל שנקראו ראשית – that Hashem created the world for the Am Yisroel. He doesn’t understand yet why the world should be created for Yisrael. We won’t spend much time on philosophy now with him; just get it into his in the first place. Who says it shouldn’t be for Yisrael? Why should the world not be for Yisrael? You tell him so and finished. Later in life you can prove it to him, that Hakodosh Boruch Hu made the world not for cattle, He made it for man. And not for man, but for good men. And not for good men, but for the best men. And you can prove it; that’s seichel. But at the beginning don’t wait because once the gashmiyus takes hold of him, then all his life he is full of sfeikos; he becomes even a big lamdan but he has in his mind a battle – the chitzoniyus and the pnimiyus are constantly fighting in him.
We had a case, I think it is Rav Kahana who said it (Shabbos 63). Rav Kahana was already eighteen years old and he said, “I was eighteen years old and I didn’t know that אין מקרא יוצא מידי פשוטו.”
You hear that chiddush? Unfortunately, today in the cheder ‘mesukan’, where it’s a sakana to go, they teach them from the beginning pshat – they learn that that’s all it is. Later they tell them there are remazim and so on. But you see that Rav Kahana was eighteen years old and he didn’t know about pshat. To him the whole Torah was chochmas Elokim; it was secrets. When he was eighteen and he was a big lamdan already then he learned the secret that there is pshat too. But he didn’t know the pshat until he was eighteen because his father was smart enough to teach him the pnimiyus of the Torah because that is how we have to start at the very beginning.
TAPE # S-8