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Learning Pirkei Avot

Classes on “Ethics of the Fathers”

Why the tractate in the Mishnah on ethics is called Avot or “Fathers”. Learn the distinction between law and beyond the law, and how this can be applied practically.
Learning Pirkei Avot: chapter 1, mishnah 2-3
“The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of G d, and deeds of kindness.” “Do not be as slaves who serve their master for the sake of reward...”
Learning Pirkei Avot: chapter 1, mishnah 4-5
“Let your home be a meeting place for the wise… Let your home be wide open, and let the poor be members of your household…”
Learning Pirkei Avot: chapter 1, mishnah 6
Make for yourself a rabbi, acquire for yourself a friend, and judge everyone favorably.
Learning Pirkei Avot: chapter 1, mishnah 7
“Distance yourself from a bad neighbor, do not cleave to a wicked person, and do not abandon belief in retribution.”
Learning Pirkei Avot: chapter 1, mishnah 8-10
When sitting in judgment, do not act as a counselor-at-law. When the litigants stand before you, consider them both guilty… Increasingly cross-examine the witnesses… Love work, loath mastery over others, and don’t fraternize with the government.
Learning Pirkei Avot: chapter 1, mishnah 11-12
"Scholars, be careful with your words. For you may be exiled to a place inhabited by evil elements who will distort your words to suit their negative purposes…Be of the disciples of Aaron: a lover of peace, a pursuer of peace, one who loves the creatures and draws them close to Torah."
Learning Pirkei Avot: chapter 1, mishnah 13-14
One who advances his name, destroys his name… If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?
Learning Pirkei Avot: chapter 1, mishnah 14-15
Make your Torah study a permanent fixture of your life. Say little and do much. And receive every man with a pleasant countenance. Make for yourself a master; stay away from doubt; and do not accustom yourself to tithe by estimation.
Learning Pirkei Avot: chapter 2, mishnah 1
Which is the right path for man to choose for himself? Whatever is harmonious for oneself and for mankind. Be as careful with a minor mitzvah as with a major one… Contemplate three things, and you will not come to the hands of transgression: Know what is above from you: a seeing eye, a listening ear, and all your deeds being inscribed in a book.
Learning Pirkei Avot: chapter 4, mishnah 1
Who is wise? One who learns from every man…Who is strong? One who overpowers his inclinations…Who is rich? One who is satisfied with his lot…Who is honorable? One who honors his fellows.
Learning Pirkei Avot: chapter 5, mishnah 1
The world was created with ten utterances. What does this come to teach us? Certainly, it could have been created with a single utterance. However, this is in order to make the wicked accountable for destroying a world that was created with ten utterances, and to reward the righteous for sustaining a world that was created with ten utterances.
Learning Pirkei Avot: chapter 6, mishnah 1
Rabbi Meir would say: Whoever studies Torah for Torah's sake alone, merits many things; not only that, but [the creation of] the entire world is worthwhile for him alone. He is called friend, beloved, lover of G‑d, lover of humanity, rejoicer of G‑d, rejoicer of humanity… (Pirkei Avot 6:1)
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