Protective Measures & Pirkei Avot

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

There is a wonderful custom that begins tomorrow on the Shabbat that follows Pesach, as summer approaches:  to learn Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers). This is a text that is preoccupied with descriptions of good character traits and proper social interaction. It seems to me that this custom is especially appropriate this year. The spirit of Pirkei Avot can be highly beneficial to us in these stressful, close-quarter, wall-climbing  corona days.

Here for example is a series of revolutionary definitions that give new meaning to wisdom, strength, wealth, and honor. “Who is wise? One who learns from every human being. Who is strong? One who conquers his evil inclination. Who is rich? One who is happy with what he has. Who is honorable? One who honors others.”

Every definition shatters what we are accustomed to thinking about each subject and provokes us to work on improving ourselves.

Here are other examples: “May the honor of your fellow be as dear as your own”, “Receive every person with a cheerful countenance”. These two valuable recommendations may seem like kindergarden cliches, but think for a moment if society was serious about applying them in everyday life.

In the days ahead, next to washing hands, disinfecting counter tops, and wearing gloves, perhaps we need to add reading Pirkei Avot to our list of protective measures.
Shabbat shalom.

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סיון רהב-מאיר

Sivan Rahav-Meir is a media personality and lecturer. Married to Yedidya, the mother of five. Lives in Jerusalem. She works for Israel TV news, writes a column for Yediot Aharonot newspaper, and hosts a weekly radio show on Galei Zahal (Army Radio). Her lectures on the weekly Torah portion are attended by hundreds and the live broadcast attracts thousands more listeners throughout the world.

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חוויה חינוכית לבנות בגילאי 11-13

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