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Five Fundamental Beliefs

Posted on November 10, 2010 at 7:56am 0 Comments

By Rabbi Yitzchak Blau, WebYeshiva.org

R. Elazarf Modi’in would say: One who desecrates holy things, degrades the festivals, publically embarrasses his friend, abrogates the covenant of Avraham our patriarch peace be on him, interprets the Torah in a anti halachic manner, even if he has Torah and good deeds, will have no portion in the world to come. (Avot 3:11)

Readers of this series probably notice that I am partial to the commentary of R. Yisrael Lipschutz, known as… Continue

Insights in Pirkei Avot: Quality Idle Chatter

Posted on October 31, 2010 at 4:02am 0 Comments

By Rabbi Yitzchak Blau, WebYeshiva.org

R. Dosa ben Hyrcanos would say: Morning sleep, afternoon wine, childish chatter, and the gatherings of the ignorant take a person out of this world. (Avot 3:10)

Most commentaries see this list as cataloging purely negative traits that lead a person to sin. For example, sleeping late in the morning causes a person to miss the time for prayer and Shema. Childish chatter distracts a person from Torah study. In contrast, R. Yisrael… Continue

Insights in Pirkei Avot: The Social Impact of Piety

Posted on October 24, 2010 at 10:57am 0 Comments

By Rabbi Yitzchak Blau, WebYeshiva.org

He would also say: One who is pleasing to his fellow men, is pleasing to G-d. One who is not pleasing to his fellow men, is not pleasing to G-d. (Avot 3: 10)

Tosafot Yom Tov wonders why this mishna needs to teach both sides of the equation. Would not the first half suffice and we will understand the second half on our own? He explains that the second sentence does not obviously follow from the first. Someone might think that… Continue

Insights in Pirkei Avot: Forgetting and Negligence

Posted on October 10, 2010 at 10:58am 0 Comments

By Rabbi Yitzchak Blau, WebYeshiva.org

R. Dostai the son of R. Yannai would say in the name of R. Meir: When anyone forgets even a single word of his learning, scripture considers it as if he had forfeited his life as it says, “Only take heed, and guard your soul well, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen” (Devarim 4:9). One might think that this applies also to one who [has forgotten because] his studies proved too difficult for him; but the verse goes on to say “and… Continue

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