(Pirkay Avot 1)

1. [16:11]  “…for himself and for his household…”     From this pasuk  we learn that the High Priest (Kohen Gadol) must be married. He cannot do the service of the Temple unless he is married. Why must the Kohen Gadol be married?

2. [18:6] “Do not defile yourself with any of these things…” The Torah emphasizes sexual modesty and there are many rabbinic laws which distance us even more from immodesty. Some communities emphasize these laws, while others keep the laws, but don’t emphasize them as much. Some argue that putting constant emphasis on the laws of sexual immorality is counter-productive, because it causes people to think about sex more than they should. Do you agree or disagree with that thinking?

3. [18:25] “…and the land will be impure and I will bring its sin against it…”   It seems that the impurity of the land is a result of sexual offenses. On Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year the Torah reading is also about sexual offences. Why do sexual sins seem to be worse here than idolatry and injustice and insensitivity to suffering and other sins?

4. [Pirkei Avot Chapter 1:13]  “…whoever uses the crown  [of  Torah for personal gain] will perish.”  What is the crown of Torah and why is it such a serious offence to use it for personal gain?

5. [Pirkay Avot 1:17]  “…I have not found anything better than silence…whoever increases words, increases sin.”  There are times, however, when it is good to increase words. For example, “whoever says more about our leaving Egypt is praiseworthy”, or speaking to a person in order to create a closer relationship is a good thing.  In which situations is silence better and in which situations is speaking better?

Commentary

When a potential convert approached Hillel, and asked him to summarize the entire Torah on one foot, he replied, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your friend”. Insensitivity and cruelty are diametrically opposed to Judaism. A Jew must be merciful and charitable; to see someone else in pain should be unbearable.

–R. Y. B. Soloveichik, 1903-1993, USA.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava—Eli Zucker

And 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