Pirkei Avos – First Perek

As you probably know there is a custom to learn Pirkei Avos between Pesach and Shavuos.

You can download an English translation here (Translation by Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld from his commentary at http://torah.org/learning/pirkei-avos). For those who don’t like to download PDFs, here is the First Perek/Chapter One:

Chapter 1

1. “Moses received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it Joshua. Joshua transmitted it to the Elders, the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets transmitted it to the Men of the Great Assembly. They [the Men of the Great Assembly] said three things: Be deliberate in judgment, raise many students, and make a protective fence for the Torah.”

2. “Shimon the Righteous was of the last survivors of the Men of the Great Assembly. He used to say, the world is based upon three things: on Torah, on service [of G-d], and on acts of kindness.”

3. “Antignos of Socho received the transmission from Shimon the Righteous. He used to say, do not be as servants who serve the Master to receive reward. Rather, be as servants who serve the Master not to receive reward. And let the fear of heaven be upon you.”

4. “Yossi ben (son of) Yo’ezer of Ts’raidah and Yossi ben Yochanan of Jerusalem received the transmission from them. Yossi ben Yo’ezer used to say, let your house be a meeting place for the sages, cleave to the dust of their feet, and drink thirstily their words.”

5. “Yossi the son of Yochanan of Jerusalem said: Let your house be open wide, and let the poor be members of your household, and do not talk excessively with women. This was said regarding one’s own wife, certainly with another’s wife. Based on this the Sages have said, one who talks excessively with women causes evil to himself, wastes time from Torah study, and will eventually inherit Gehinnom (Hell).”

6. “Yehoshua the son of Perachia and Nittai of Arbel received the transmission from them (the Rabbis mentioned in Mishna 4). Yehoshua the son of Perachia said, make for yourself a Rabbi, acquire for yourself a friend, and judge everyone favorably.”

7. “Nittai of Arbel said, distance yourself from a bad neighbor, do not befriend a wicked person, and do not despair of punishment.”

8. “Yehuda the son of Tabbai and Shimon the son of Shatach received the transmission from them (the scholars mentioned in Mishna 6). Yehuda the son of Tabbai said, do not act as an adviser to judges. When the litigants are standing before you they should be in your eyes as guilty. When they are dismissed from before you they should be in your eyes as innocent, provided they have accepted the judgment.”

9. “Shimon the son of Shatach said, examine witnesses thoroughly, and be careful with your words, lest through them they learn to lie.”

10. “Shemaya and Avtalyon received the tradition from them (the scholars mentioned in mishna 8). Shemaya said, love work, despise high position, and do not become too close to the authorities.”

11. “Avtalyon said: ‘Sages, be careful with your words lest you deserve to be exiled and are exiled to a place of bad waters. The students who come after you will drink of these waters and die and God’s Name will be desecrated.’ “

12. “Hillel and Shammai received the transmission from them (the scholars mentioned in Mishna 10). Hillel said, be of the students of Aharon, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving people and bringing them closer to Torah.”

13. “He (Hillel) used to say, one who seeks a name loses his name, one who does not increase decreases, one who does not learn deserves death, and one who makes use of the crown [of Torah] will pass away.”

14. “He (Hillel) used to say, if I am not for me who is for me, if I am for myself what am I, and if not now when.”

15. “Shammai said, make your Torah study fixed, say little and do much, and receive everyone with a cheerful countenance.”

16. “Rabban Gamliel said, make for yourself a Rabbi, remove yourself from doubt, and do not give extra tithes due to estimation.”

17. “Shimon his [Rabban Gamliel’s] son said, all my life I have been raised among the Sages, and I have not found anything better for oneself than silence. Study is not the main thing but action. All who talk excessively bring about sin.”

18. “Rabbi Shimon the son of Gamliel said, on three things does the world endure – justice, truth and peace, as the verse says (Zechariah 8:16), ‘Truth and judgments of peace judge in your gates.’ ”

13 comments on “Pirkei Avos – First Perek

  1. to #6 and others, I highly recommend learning Rav Shaya Karlinsky’s shiurim based on the Maharal’s Derech Chaim commentary on Pirke Avot. It explains what’s really going on “behind the scenes” in these mishnayot and is available on torah.org

  2. I would suggest that providing the text of the Mishnayos in any Perek of Avos should be complemented by some views of commentaries, of which there are no shortage of both in Lashon HaKodesh and English.

  3. To Bob Miller #9: I think this blog enables BT’s and Geirim to share tremendously helpful advice and suggestions for a better Jewish life. I think this blog also serves a valuable purpose in disseminating Divrei Torah.

    I would compare this site to a shul newsletter, which usually features some Torah thoughts from the rabbi along with Kashrus information, community events and general news, or to the magazines published by the O-U and the O-K with interesting information and entertaining articles for the Orthodox Jewish public. With the added plus of a big dose of chizuk.

  4. Judy,

    Do you put Beyond BT blog discussions into the same category as “sicha”, or are we more focused on ideas from whomever?

  5. To wife #6: I actually dislike “talking excessively” with men, as I find they tend to get nasty and sarcastic when women say something intelligent. I also dislike men who use women as free psychologists, with the attitude that we have all the time in the world to listen to their problems and come up with a solution.

    There’s nothing wrong with a man giving a Torah shiur to women and then answering questions from the audience. The Lubavitcher Rebbe zatzal gave a great deal of time to women, both in groups when addressing Nshei Ubnos Chabad conventions and individually for personal consultations.

    Over the years, I have come to enjoy women’s only Jewish events and the separation of women from men. I find that mechitzah creates a protected space where women can pray quietly to Gd without fear of being touched or stared at inappropriately. I also prefer talking to and being with women at Shabbos afternoon gatherings or festive celebrations.

    Years ago I remember seeing Mr. XYZ one Shabbos afternoon in the local park attempting to converse with an older woman, about some juicy bit of gossip concerning other people. The woman looked disgusted and I simply wondered why Mr. XYZ wasn’t over with the men talking Torah topics. Even a discussion of the baseball season would have been preferable (less chance of lashon hara).

    Sometimes I really want to talk about “veibisher” topics with other women, such as toilet teaching for toddlers or special education services for a delayed child or a Kriah tutor for a boy with difficulties at yeshiva. Men who join in these discussions only end up mocking us (unless they are also concerned parents) and then they go off to talk about “guy” topics like football. Women to women discussions can be informative and helpful, as women since time immemorial have exchanged tips for better living.

  6. To CB #5: Here at Beyond BT we have plenty of freestyle points for discussion. We also have transcriptions of talks by distinguished rabbonim, reprints of significant articles, translations of Torah topics, and general kvetching and venting by the populace. In short, there’s something for everyone. And if something is missing here that you would like to see discussed….contribute it yourself! That’s what I did, several times. There’s a lot of room here in cyberspace for a lot of different opinions.

  7. I love most of the verses of Pirkei Avos, but “the Sages have said, one who talks excessively with women causes evil to himself, wastes time from Torah study, and will eventually inherit Gehinnom” has always bothered me. It sounds as if the Sages assume women cannot be talking about Torah.

  8. Thanks, Mr. Frankel, for your response. You answered my question with your second point. To Mr. Cohen, I am new to this website and thought the contributions would be more freestyle points for discussion, not a transcript of a Torah text that’s readily available in many places.

  9. C.B. – Not sure I fully understand your question, but here are some potential answers:

    – So people can easily review Avos
    – For people who don’t have easy access to a translation
    – The PDF download has all 6 perekim transcribed
    – It was actually transcribed by Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld as it says in the notes

  10. 17. “Shimon his [Rabban Gamliel’s] son said, all my life I have been raised among the Sages, and I have not found anything better for oneself than silence…”

    Excellent advice, especially for Jews who attend synagogue often.

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