(Haftara: Jeremiah 16:19-17:14)
(Pirkay Avot: Chapter 5)
- 1. [26:3] “If you walk in My chukim (statutes)…” Chukim are commandments whose reasons are either not comprehensible, or very hard to understand. For example, the laws of kashrut and the commandment of tfillin are chukim. What quality of character is developed by performing commandments which we don’t understand?
- [Jeremiah 16:19] “…to You the nations will come from the ends of the earth.” We believe that in the future all the people in the world will recognize the one universal God who revealed the Torah to us. If this belief is the same for everyone, why do the Jews have so many commandments, while the non-Jews have 7 commandments?
[The numbering of the mishnayot in Pirkay Avot are not the same in all versions.]
- [Pirkay Avot 5:20-23] “One should be as brazen as a leopard… the brazen go to hell…” When is brazenness a Godly quality, and when is brazenness an undesirable quality? Do all human qualities have a holy expression and an unholy expression?
- [Pirkay Avot 5:10-13] “…what is mine is mine, and what is yours is yours is the quality of the average person, and some say it is the quality of Sodom (cruelty)…” R. Ya’akov Emden (Germany, 1697-1776) says that in order to change this quality a person should give a lot to others constantly, until generous behaviour becomes a part of his nature. Is this good advice? What other practices or advice might be suggested to a person who does not have a generous nature?
- 5. [Pirkay Avot 5:16-19] “Any love that is dependent on something–when the thing is gone, the love is also gone. But a love that is not dependent on anything never ceases.” We are told to “Love the person next to you like you love yourself” (Vayikra 19:18). Is our love for ourselves a love that is dependent on something or a love that is not dependent on anything?
[27:33] “…and he shall not exchange it…”
Every person was born with a mission in life that is distinctly, uniquely and exclusively his or her own. No one–not even the greatest of souls–can take his or her place. No other person who ever lived or who ever will live can fulfill that particular aspect of God’s purpose in creation.
–R. Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, (1902-1994), USA.
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker
And to the memory of Sarah Beila Kummer bat Yitzchak and Chana, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer