(Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17)

(Haftara: Isaiah 54:11-55:5)

(Pirkay Avot Chapter 6)

1. [11:29] “…the blessing on Mount Grizim and the curse on Mount Eival…” What educational purpose is served by the blessings and the curses being centered on physical places and being expressed in such a dramatic way?

2. [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…” The Malbim says that this pasuk means that since everyone will be taught by God Himself, therefore there will be no arguments in understanding. There are also people today who prefer to learn from one authority without arguments. What are the advantages of arguing and discussing in order to come to clarity, and what are the advantages of having an authority who explains everything to us?

4. [Pirkay Avot 6:6] “…don’t be happy with judging and teaching on matters of Torah law…” Why should one avoid judging and teaching on matters of Torah law?

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?

Commentary   

Even though learning Torah and performing the commandments of the Torah purify one’s personal qualities and one’s personality, one cannot rely on those things alone. One must also work purposefully on the improvement of one’s character.

–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