(Haftara: Isaiah 54:11-55:5)
(Pirkay Avot Chapter 6)
1. [11:26] “Look, I am
putting in front of you to-day…” Here, we are told to look, but in our
most well-known prayer, “Shma Yisrael…”, we are told to listen or understand.
For educational purposes, which is more effective, seeing or hearing?
[11:29] “…the blessing on
Mount Grizim and the curse on Mount Eival…” This very dramatic ceremony presented
blessings and curses to the people of Israel. In our religious life, we
sometimes have dramatic ceremonies (Pesach seder, blowing of the shofar), and
sometimes we have more intimate experiences (living in the sukkah, prayer,
asking forgiveness). When are dramatic ceremonies more effective in getting us
closer to God, and when are intimate experiences more effective?
3. [Haftara: Isaiah 54:13] “And all your children will
be taught by God, and the peace of your children will be great.” In this
messianic vision, we are told that when God, himself, will teach us, we will
have great peace. Couldn’t it be true
that having God as our teacher would bring us anxiety? How can we possibly live
up to God’s expectations?
4. [Pirkay Avot 6:2] “Only
one who is involved in learning Torah can be called a free person”.
From a Torah point of view, what does it mean to be a free person? What is the
difference between the Torah’s idea of freedom and the world’s idea of freedom?
5. [Pirkay Avot 6:6, 6:8] Mishna 6 mentions honour (kavod) in a negative
way—the Torah is acquired by distancing oneself from “kavod”. However, mishna 8
says that “kavod” is a good quality for a righteous person. Is honour (kavod) a
good thing or a bad thing?
Negative thoughts and
a confused mind are like a turbulent sea. Therefore one has to be sure to clear
up one’s thoughts. All holiness…is dependent on this. Each person achieves
holiness in relation to how much the thoughts are purified.
–R. Nosson of
Breslov, 1780-1844, Ukraine.
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben
David and Kochava—Eli ZuckerAnd this study page is dedicated to the memory of
Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and
Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer