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    Listen, you rebels – Chukkat

    Moses says in his annoyance, Shim’u-na hamorim, “Listen, you rebels!” (Num, 20:10). Rashi cites the rabbinic view that the word morim, “rebels”, is linked to another morim that means “teachers”.

    What is the nature of the rebelliousness? That they were morim et moreihem, they “taught their teachers”.

    This cannot be directed at students who eventually become greater experts than those who originally gave them the rudiments of education. Many of us have erstwhile students who have gone on to overtake us in their knowledge, and we are highly and rightly proud of them.

    Where they become rebels, God forbid, is if and when they now spurn and humiliate their teachers, which has also been known to happen.

    It’s also “teaching the teachers” to mock and undermine what the teacher says, or to boast of one’s cleverness in occasionally catching the teacher out.

    If occasionally the teacher gets a quotation wrong, the way to respond is not to pounce on the teacher in glee but to be respectful and say quietly, “May I please ask a question? Doesn’t the text say such-and-such? (or: Wasn’t it possibly so-and-so who said this?)”

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