7. He is obligated to stand before his teacher from the time he sees him from afar until he is out of sight and he can no longer see his figure – then he sits down. A person is obligated to visit his teacher during the *Regel* (pilgrimage festival – Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot).
Q1: Why, in general, is there an obligation to stand up in front of his teacher (and other scholars and parents)?
YE: When it comes to issues of honorific behavior, there are two approaches (as hinted to in the response to Q1 in Halakha 5 above) to understanding the source.
a) There is a cultural/instinctual model of behavior of respect which the Torah adopts and channels towards God – and, on a lesser level, to those objects and persons worthy of respect (the *Miqdash*, parents & teachers etc.). In that case, we would have to posit that standing had always been seen as a sign of deference and honor. (This would likely be R’s approach – see Moreh Nevukhim III:32 ff.)
b) Standing is defined by the Torah as a mode of respectful behavior (as evidenced in the law of standing up when doing Avodah – see BT Zevahim 23 & MT Biat Miqdash 5:17 – also, this is exemplified in Vayyiqra [Leviticus] 19:32 – standing for the scholar (see Rashi ad loc.) and for the old person). Since it is particularly emphasized in the case of worship in God’s *Miqdash* (i.e. “in front” of God) – it also becomes a model for the proper respectful stance in front of teachers and parents.
In general, it would seem that standing is a way of not being – or showing oneself to be – “at leisure”. Being in the presence of God demands action and readiness for action. (Army stances may be an interesting model to investigate and correlate here.) This then becomes the model for associated sanctity or objects/person worthy of respect.
Q2: To whom is the *Regel*-visit obligation pointed? If it is a contemporary student, doesn’t he see his teacher all the time? Why the *Regel*? If it is a “former” student – what does that say about teacher-student relationships?
SR: It seems to me that Parents/Teachers hold a special place in Judaism in that they are a kind of “reflections of G-d’s presence”. Just as G-d created the universe and is responsible for sustaining the world, so too, the Parents and Teachers assume that physical presence and are responsible for sustaining both the physical and spiritual well-being of the world. Insofar as Parents/Teachers are given such high esteem and responsibility, it seems fitting that just as G-d requires us to visit the Him in the Sanctuary on the three “regalim”, so, too, we are required to visit those to whom we owe our physical and spiritual lives.
Rambam, Copyright (c) 1999 Project Genesis, Inc.