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PIrkei Avot: Now more than ever

טעימה ממסכת אבות

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin and Janine Muller Sherr

There is no better time to start learning Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers) than right now. Each Shabbat during the counting of the Omer period, between Pesach and Shavuot, it is customary to learn a chapter from this Talmudic tractate. The entire concern of Pirkei Avot is building a just society through refinement of our character traits, the appropriate preparation for receiving the Torah on Shavuot.

Here are just a few statements from Pirkei Avot. Think about what our lives would be like if we took them to heart and were guided by their light:

  • “May your friend’s honor be a precious to you as your own.”
  • “Be among the disciples of Aharon:Love peace, pursue peace, love others and them close to the Torah.”
  • “Greet everyone with a pleasant countenance.”
  • “The shy person cannot learn; the impatient person cannot teach.”


This is just a small taste of Pirkei Avot. May we merit to internalize all of its teachings and may all of us hear an abundance of good news.

This year the following well-known Mishna resonated in a most powerful way:

“The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of God, and acts of loving-kindness.”

Our enemies want us to think that our world is descending into chaos and that everything is coming apart. And all of us, in our hearts, feel some of this despair.
But our sages are teaching us here that our world is not lawless, that it stands on values and principles, and, even more importantly, that our good deeds can contribute to the stability of the world.

Shavua Tov!


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