(Pirkay Avot 1)
1. [19:14] “Don’t curse the deaf, and don’t put an obstacle before the blind…” These behaviours are obviously metaphors for behaviours that are more common. Which behaviours are these metaphors for? What character traits is the Torah trying to develop in us by telling us not to do these things?
2. [19:18] “…and love your fellow person like you love yourself “. The Torah assumes that one loves himself or herself. If someone has a low self-image, and does not love himself or herself, what should he or she do? How can a person come to love him or herself? How can a person come to appreciate and love another person?
3. [19:18] “…and love your fellow person like you love yourself “. What is love?
4. [Sfirat Haomer] Because Rabbi Akiva’s students died of a plague, our tradition tells us to observe customs of mourning (no weddings; no haircuts, etc.) during the majority of the days when we count the omer between Pesach and Shavuot. On these days we anticipate our receiving of the Torah on Shavuot, so shouldn’t these be days of joy? Do these customs of mourning take away from the atmosphere of anticipation of receiving the Torah, or add to that atmosphere?
(There is a custom to learn Pirkay Avot on Shabbatot between Pesach and Rosh Hashana. Be aware that there are different traditions in numbering the mishnayot in Pirkay Avot.)
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?
[19:18] “…and love your fellow person like you love yourself “.
The love of all creations is first; then the love of man; then the love of the people of Israel; which includes everything because in the future, Israel is going to repair all creations. All these loves are meant to be practised—to do good for them and to cause them to be elevated. And the greatest of all is the love of God…The greatest happiness is for the heart to be full of the love of God.
–Rabbi Avraham Y. H. Kuk, 1865-1935, Lithuania, Israel.
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