Make Yourself a Teacher

Rabbinic Tales of Mentors and Disciples

Susan Handelman

  • Published: 2011
  • Subject Listing: Jewish Studies; Education
  • Bibliographic information: 176 pp., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Series: Samuel and Althea Stroum Lectures in Jewish Studies
  • Contents

Make Yourself a Teacher is a teaching book and a book about teaching. It discusses three dramatic, well-known stories about the student and teacher Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus from the Oral Torah. The stories of R. Eliezer serve as teaching texts and models for reflection on the teacher/student relationship in the Jewish tradition and in contemporary culture with special emphasis on the hevruta mode of Jewish learning, a collaborative process that invites the reader into a dialogue with teachers past and present.

Susan Handelman considers how teacher/student relations sustain and renew the Jewish tradition, especially during troubled times. As a commentary on historical and contemporary educational practices, she asks a range of questions about teaching and learning: What is it that teachers do when they teach? How do knowledge, spirituality, and education relate? What might Jewish models of study and commentary say about how we teach and learn today? Handelman not only presents pedagogical issues that remain controversial in today's debates on education but she also brings the stories themselves to life. Through her readings, the stories beckon us to sit among the sages and be their student
Susan Handelman is professor of English at Bar-Ilan University, Israel.
A Note on Translation and Transliteration of Hebrew
Notes on Notes

"I Only Want the Piece Which Is in Your Mouth"

1. "Torah of the Belly": Rabbi Eliezer Starves for a Teacher

2. "The Gates of Wounded Feelings"" Rabbi Eliezer Is Banned

3. "Father! Father! Israel's Chariot and Its Horsemen!": The Passing of Rabbi Eliezer


Selected Bibliography

"The book was written to be accessible and its insights, literary and education, are relevant to the many readers of these rabbinic sources, and to teachers and lecturers seeking insight from Jewish sources."
-Pinchas Roth, Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews, September/October 2012

"Her book wonderfully demonstrates the creative interplay between traditional learning and contemporary intellectual freedom . . . Rabbis, and all of us, would do well to internalize Handelman's call to see teaching as not an add-on but a central category of human experience."
-Yehudah Mirsky, Jewish Ideas Daily, March 2012

"Handelman's book drew me into a world I knew little about, providing a heretofore neglected, but intriguing space for thinking about the teacher-student relationship. . . . That Handelman wrote this book when bombs were exploding throughout Jerusalem - including at the university where she teaches - demonstrates that the teacher-student relationship lives, and may be even more critical, during crises."
-Mitzi J. Smith, Teaching Theology and Religion