This week is the Sixth Perek for Pirkei Avos. Here is the link for an English Translation of all six Perakim culled from Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld’s translation and commentary at Torah.org. The full text of Pirkei Avos in Hebrew can be found here.
Torah.org also has some of the Maharal’s commentary for Pirkei Avos and you can purchase the Art Scroll adaptation of the Maharal’s commentary here.
Here is Chapter 6 of Pirkei Avos
1. “Rabbi Meir (Mai-eer) said, anyone who engages in Torah study for its own sake (‘lishma’) merits many things. Not only that, but the entire world is worthwhile for him alone. He is called ‘friend’ and ‘beloved,’ he loves G-d, he loves man, he brings joy to G-d, he brings joy to man. It (the Torah) clothes him in humility and fear. It enables him to be righteous, pious, upright, and faithful. It distances him from sin and brings him to merit. People gain from him advice and wisdom, understanding and strength, as it says, ‘To me is advice and wisdom, I am understanding, and strength is mine’ (Proverbs 8:14). It gives him kingship, dominion and analytical judgment. It reveals to him the secrets of the Torah. He becomes like a waxing stream and an unceasing river. He becomes modest, slow to anger, and forgiving of the wrongs done to him. It makes him great and exalted above all of creation.”
2. “Rabbi Yehoshua ben (son of) Levi said, on every day a heavenly voice emanates from Mount Horeb, announcing: ‘Woe to them, the people, because of the affront to the Torah.’ For anyone who does not study is called ‘rebuked,’ as the verse says ‘As a golden ring in a swine’s snout, so too is a beautiful woman who has turned from sound reason’ (Proverbs 11:22). It also says, ‘And the tablets were the handiwork of G-d, and the writing was G-d’s writing engraved on the tablets’ (Exodus 32:16). Do not read ‘charoos’ (‘engraved’), rather ‘chairoos’ (‘free’). For you will not find a freer person than one who is involved in Torah study. For all those who study Torah are uplifted, as it states, ‘From Matanah [the Israelites traveled to] Nachaliel, and from Nachaliel to Bamos’ (Numbers 21:19).”
3. “One who learns from his fellow a single chapter [of Torah], a single law, a single verse, a single statement, or even a single letter, must treat him with honor. For so we find with David, King of Israel, who learned from Achitofel two things alone, and he called him his teacher, his guide, and his intimate, as it is said: ‘And you are a man of my worth, my guide and intimate’ (Psalms 55:14). And does not this matter allow for logical deduction: If David, King of Israel, who learned from Achitofel two things alone, called him his teacher, guide and intimate, one who learns from his fellow one chapter, one law, one verse, one statement, or even one letter, all the more so must he treat him with honor. And honor is [only due for] Torah, as it says: ‘Honor – the wise shall inherit’ (Proverbs 3:35); ‘And perfect ones will inherit good’ (ibid., 28:10). And there is no good other than Torah, as it says, ‘For a good possession have I given you; do not forsake My Torah’ (ibid., 4:2).”
4. “This is the way of the Torah: Bread and salt will you eat, measured water will you drink, on the ground will you sleep, a life of suffering will you live, and in the Torah will you labor. If you do this, ‘You are fortunate and it is good for you’ (Psalms 128:2). ‘You are fortunate’ – in this world; ‘and it is good for you’ – in the World to Come.”
5. “Do not seek greatness for yourself and do not crave honor. Do more than you have studied and do not desire the ‘table’ of kings. For your table is greater than their table, and your crown is greater than their crown. And your Employer can be trusted to pay you the reward for your efforts.”
6. “Torah is greater than priesthood and kingship, for kingship is acquired with 30 qualities, priesthood is acquired with 24, whereas the Torah is acquired with 48 ways. These are: (1) study, (2) attentive listening, (3) articulate expression, (4) understanding of the heart and perception of the heart, (5) awe, (6) fear, (7) modesty, (8) joy, (9) service of the sages, (10) careful discussion with colleagues, (11) sharp discussion with students, (12) composure, (13) Scriptures and Mishna, (14) limited business activity, (15) limited involvement with the world (some translate: sexual activity), (16) limited enjoyment, (17) limited sleep, (18) limited light conversation, (19) limited laughter, (20) slowness to anger, (21) a good heart, (22) trust in the Sages, (23) acceptance of suffering, (24) knowing one’s place, (25) being happy with one’s lot, (26) making a fence for one’s words, (27) not taking credit for oneself, (28) being loved, (29) loving G-d, (30) loving mankind, (31) loving righteousness, (32) loving justice, (33) loving reproof, (34) keeping far from honor, (35) not being arrogant with decision-making, (36) sharing his fellow’s yoke, (37) judging him favorably, (38) setting him on a peaceful course, (39) thinking deliberately in his study, (40) asking and answering, listening and contributing, (41) learning in order to teach, (42) learning in order to practice, (43) making his teacher wiser, (44) pondering over what he has learned, (45) repeating a saying in the name of the one who said it”
7. “Great is Torah, for it gives life to its doers in this world and in the next world, as it is written: ‘For they (the teachings of the Torah) give life to those who find them and healing to all flesh’ (Proverbs 4:22). It also says: ‘Healing will it be for your flesh and marrow for your bones’ (ibid., 3:8). It also says: ‘It is a tree of life to those who take hold of it, and those who support it are fortunate’ (3:18). And it says: ‘They are a graceful garland for your head and necklaces for your throat’ (1:9). And it says: ‘It will give your head a graceful garland; it will provide you a crown of glory’ (4:9). And it says: ‘For in me (the Torah) will you lengthen days, and years of life will be added to you’ (9:11). And it says: ‘Length of days in its right hand; in its left are wealth and honor’ (3:16). And it is written: ‘For length of days, years of life, and peace will they (the Torah’s teachings) increase for you’ (3:2).”
8. “Rabbi Shimon ben (son of) Yehuda said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai: Beauty, strength, wealth, honor, wisdom, old age, fullness of years, and children are fitting for the righteous and fitting for the world, as it is written: ‘A crown of majesty is old age; it will be found along the path of righteousness’ (Proverbs 16:31). And it says: ‘The crown of the aged is grandchildren, and the glory of children is their fathers’ (17:6). And it says: ‘The glory of young men is their strength, and the majesty of old men is age’ (20:29). And it is written: ‘And the moon will be darkened and the sun will grow ashamed for the L-rd of Hosts rules in Mount Zion and Jerusalem, and before his elders will be honor’ (Isaiah 24:23). Rabbi Shimon ben Menasya said: These seven qualities which the Sages listed regarding the righteous were all fulfilled in Rabbi [Yehuda the Prince] and his sons.”
9. “Rabbi Yossi ben (son of) Kisma said: One time I was walking along the way and a certain man met me. He greeted me and I returned the greeting. He said to me: ‘Rabbi, where are you from?’ I responded: ‘I am from a large city of scholars and scribes.’ He said to me: ‘Rabbi, would you be willing to dwell among us in our place, and I will give you hundreds of thousands of gold coins, precious stones and pearls?’ I said to him: ‘Even if you would give me all the silver, gold, precious stones, and pearls in the world, I would not dwell anywhere other than a place of Torah.’ So too it was written in the Book of Psalms by David, King of Israel: ‘The Torah of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver [coins]’ (119:72). And further, when a person departs this world neither his silver, gold, precious stones, or pearls accompany him, but only his Torah study and good deeds, as it is written: ‘When you walk it will guide you, when you lie down it will protect you, and when you arise it will speak for you’ (Proverbs 6:22). ‘When you walk it will guide you’ – in this world; ‘when you lie down it will protect you’ – in the grave; ‘and when you arise it will speak for you’ – in the World to Come. And it says: ‘To Me is silver and gold says the L-rd of hosts’ (Chaggai 2:8).”