(Bamidbar: 33:1-36:13)

(Haftara: Jeremiah 2:4-28, 3:4, 4:1,2)

(Pirkay Avot 2)

  1. [Pirkay Avot 2:1] “Be as careful with a minor mitzvah as with a major one, for you do not know the rewards of the mitzvot.” If we read this mishna in a simple way, it seems to say that one should not choose between mitzvot, but rather, do whatever mitzvah comes to hand even if there seems to be a more important mitzvah to do. That, however, cannot be true. What is this mishna coming to teach us?
  1. [2:1] “Which is the right path for man to choose for himself? Whatever is proper for the one who does (or made) it, and proper in the eyes of others.” Rav Ovadiah of Bartinuro (16th century, Italy) understands this to mean that one should find a balance between one’s own desires and the expectations of the community. However, R. Moshe Zacuto, (1625-1697) says that one should balance what God expects and what the community expects. How is this mishna understood differently by each of these explanations?
  1. [2:1] “Which is the right path for man to choose for himself? Whatever is proper for the one who does it, and proper in the eyes of others.”   R. Moshe Zacuto, (1625-1697) says that one should balance what Godexpects against what the community expects. Shouldn’t God’s expectations be much more important than the community’s expectations? Why do we pay so much attention to the expectations of the community?
  1. [2:2] “Torah, together with work, saves a person from sin. “ One would think that the more Torah, the less sin. How does work help to save a person from sin?
  1. [2:10(-12)] “Let all your acts be for the sake of Heaven”.   R. Chaim of Volozhin (1749-1821) says that even in satisfying one’s physical desires, one should act for the sake of Heaven. How can one act for the sake of Heaven while satisfying one’s physical desires?

Commentary

Faith is pure when it is full of inner feelings without self-deception and without ulterior motives…Someone who is intelligent will not be content without rational thinking. For him, a genuine faith will not be real unless it is illuminated by reason.

–R. Avraham Y. H. Kuk, 1865-1935, Lithuania and Israel.

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