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Ethics of the Fathers

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Learning Pirkei Avot on Five Levels
Shimon the Righteous was among the last surviving members of the Great assembly. He would say: The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of G-d, and deeds of kindness. (Ethics of Our Fathers 1:2)
Why we need so many mitzvahs
Rabbi Chananya ben Akashya said: “The Holy One, blessed be He, wished to make the people of Israel meritorious; therefore He gave them Torah and mitzvot in abundant measure, as it is written: ‘The L rd desired, for the sake of his [Israel’s] righteousness...
Learning Pirkei Avot on Five Levels
The prevalent custom is to study a chapter of Ethics of Our Fathers each week starting the Shabbat after Passover. Prior to studying each chapter, we add the introductory teaching of ‘Kol Yisrael’ (All Jews). Learn why this is inserted as a preface to Pir...
Why there’s so much human failure
Humans seemed hard-wired to fail. Why would G-d especially design His world to allow so much failure? To address this topic, we explore the teaching in Ethics of Our Fathers that the world was created with ten statements (ch.5:1).
Learning Pirkei Avot on Five Levels
One who learns from his fellow…a single law…must treat him with respect. For so we find with David, king of Israel, who did not learn anything from Achitofel except for two things alone, yet he called him his "master," his "guide" and his "intimate"… (Eth...
Learning Pirkei Avot on Five Levels
Ben Bag Bag would say: Delve and delve into it (Torah), for all is in it; see with it; grow old and worn in it; do not budge from it, for there is nothing better. Ben Hei Hei would say: According to the pain is the gain. (Ethics of Our Fathers ch.5:21)
Learning Pirkei Avot on Five Levels
Rabbi Shimon would say: There are three crowns—the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood and the crown of sovereignty—but the crown of good name surmounts them all. (Ethics of Our Fathers 4:13)
Learning Pirkei Avot on Five Levels
Beloved is man, for he was created in the image [of G d]; Beloved are the people Israel, for they are called children of G d; Beloved are the people Israel, for a precious article was given to them. (Ethics of Our Fathers ch.3:14)
Farbrengen, 19 Kislev, 5743 • December 5, 1982
When recording the chain of passing down the Torah, Ethics of the Fathers states that the Torah was received by Moses from Sinai. Why the emphasis on this particular individual and this particular location? Moses and Sinai each stand for unique traits tha...
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