Contact Us

When You Meet Someone, You Have Three Options

When You Meet Someone, You Have Three Options

Pirkei Avot, Chapter 1


A mishnah in chapter one of Pirkei Avot says, “Provide a teacher for yourself, buy yourself a friend and judge every man favorably.”

The Lubavitcher Rebbe says that these words provide us with instructions for relating to three different kinds of people.

There are righteous people, whom we should strive to emulate. When we meet special people like these, we can fulfill the first words of the mishnah, “Provide a teacher for yourself.” We can look up to them as inspiring role models.

Then there are people who are close to our own level, people who struggle with the same challenges that we do. These are the people we want to befriend, to “buy” as friends, because if we want to grow in our service of G‑d and in Torah study, we need good friends who will make sure we stay focused.

Then there are those people who don’t inspire us, who are on a low spiritual level. The mishnah concludes by saying that instead of judging the people we see as being on a lower level than us, we should look at them in a positive light and judge them favorably.

Rabbi Mendy Kaminker is the editor of Beit Chabad, the Hebrew edition of
Translated by Esther Rabi.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
1 Comment
1000 characters remaining
Fro January 28, 2016

Quite a soul-feeding lesson...thank you for sharing Reply

Ethics of the Fathers is a tractate of the Mishna that details the Torah's views on ethics and interpersonal relationships. Enjoy insights, audio classes and stories on these fascinating topics.