Tractate Niddah (30b) of the Talmud records a folktale that I find comforting and infuriating: while we are in utero, an angel comes and teaches us the whole of the Torah. Then as soon as we are born, the angel slaps us on the mouth so that we will forget it all. The mark that is left is the philtrum, the vertical dent between the mouth and nose.
Thus when we study Torah, we are not learning for the first time; we are instead striving to remember the Torah that we already know. As a teacher, my task is to help my students remember.
I find that when I remember that, I am a much better teacher.
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2 thoughts on “The Mark of Remembrance”
I love this concept. Loved it when i was pregnant, then taught my son that he’d had an angel keeping him company and teaching him Torah. The only play i don’t like is the slap.
You quote the gemoro about the angel but what is the source that the indentation under the nose is from that