web analytics
April 19, 2015 / 30 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Q & A: Avot Between Pesach And Shavuot


QuestionsandAnswers-logo

QUESTION: I have numerous questions regarding Pirkei Avot. First, is there a specific reason that the last chapter is read on the Sabbath before Shavuot, or is this just a quirk of the calendar? Second, in that last chapter we find a listing of qualities that enable one to acquire Torah knowledge, including anava (humility). I find this difficult to believe in light of the Gemara in Gittin that chastises one of the scholars for his anava, which ultimately caused the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash.
Zvi Kirschner
(Via E-Mail)
ANSWER: The study of Pirkei Avot is specified in Halacha (Rema, Orach Chayyim 292:2): “We are accustomed not to organize a study session [on Shabbat afternoon] between Mincha and Maariv, but we do recite Pirkei Avot in the summer and Shir Hama’alot [a collection of chapters of Tehillim that includes Borchi Nafshi (Psalm 104) and the series of Shir Hama’alot (Psalms 120-134)] in the winter.”The Magen Avraham (ad loc.), citing the Mordechai, explains our reluctance to organize a study session in the synagogue or Beit Hamidrash at that time, as we fear that the study session will continue until chashecha (dusk) and we will have no opportunity to partake of the Seuda Shelishit (the third Sabbath meal).”

The Gaon of Vilna (Biur HaGra) gives us a reason why Shir Hama’alot are recited in the winter and Pirkei Avot in the summer. As the winter days are shorter and Mincha is closer to nightfall, this leaves little time for Torah study without pausing for the Seuda Shelishit. In the summer months, however, when the days are longer, Pirkei Avot replaces the study of Aggada.

The Mishna Berura in his Sha’ar HaTziyyun commentary (ad loc.) explains it otherwise. As we note from the text of the Rema, the study of Pirkei Avot differs from in-depth study – which we avoid even in the summer months at that time because it may interfere with the Seuda Shelishit – as it is rather just an utterance, amira.

However, in his Mishna Berura commentary (ad loc.) the Chafetz Chaim notes that since many people come to shul on Shabbat afternoon and engage in sicha beteila, idle conversation, it is better to listen to words of mussar (words of reproof) which will cause them to refrain from such idle conversations.

[Obviously, when we refer to summer and winter in this discussion, we refer to the times when the applicable prayers for these seasons are begun. The “summer” begins on Pesach, when we start saying Veten beracha and Morid haTal (for Nusach Sefarad and all nusachim in Eretz Yisrael), which are our summer prayers for dew; that is also the time when the days are longer. The “winter” begins at the conclusion of Sukkot, when we start the prayers for rain – Mashiv HaRuach and subsequently Tal u’matar li’veracha.]

Since there are six Sabbaths between Pesach and Shavuot and there are six chapters in this tractate, we devote an entire Sabbath to the study of each chapter. After Shavuot, specifically in Elul, there are weeks when we “double up” and learn two chapters on one Sabbath. We always read the last chapter on the Sabbath before Shavuot, as you note.

Furthermore, this last chapter, which is referred to as Kinyan HaTorah (lit. the method of acquiring Torah), as you indicate in your question, is not part of the original Mishnayot compiled by R. Yehuda Hanasi, but is rather a compilation of Tannaitic Beraitot that were added subsequently and appear in the Vilna Shas as a sixth chapter of the tractate. The term Kinyan HaTorah is based on two Mishnayot (6:5-6). [In most siddurim, the list of the 48 qualities through which one acquires Torah knowledge is included in Mishna 6:6; however, in the Vilna Shas it is split into Mishnayot 6:5 and 6:6.]

The newly published Matnot Chayyim, authored by HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, shelita, Mashgiach Ruchani of Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, New Jersey, and formerly of Yeshiva Beth Yosef in Gateshead, England, contains a compilation of essays about Kinyan HaTorah, as specified in this Mishna. [The book is available through Israel Book Shop, Inc., Lakewood, NJ, (732) 901-3009, or in England at Lehmann’s, 191-430-0333.]

In his preface, the author explains why this tractate is studied during the weeks prior to Shavuot, and we shall see that our Sages deliberately set this course of study at that specific time of the year.

R. Salomon explains that the preparations for Mattan Torah, receiving the Torah at Mt. Sinai on Shavuot, are accomplished through the 48 methods of acquisition listed in the last chapter of Avot, which is thus referred to as Kinyan HaTorah. Although there are numerous reasons given for the study of Avot, it is proper to bring the words of the Hasid Ya’vez, as found in Midrash Shemuel: “The Torah can only dwell in one whose being is devoid of negative traits, and who is full of important [and admirable] traits.” This is what Hashem meant when He states in Parashat Yitro (Exodus 19:15), “… Heyu nechonim li’sheloshet yamim, al tigshu el isha – Be ready after a three-day period, come not near a woman.” [Rashi ad loc. explains that this refers specifically to the purification of the women of Bnei Yisrael so that they would be ritually pure at the time of the giving of the Torah. It is understood that the men would be ritually pure as well.]

He adds that similarly, the cleansing of one’s clothes (ibid. 19:10) suggests that one must purify oneself from the ritual impurities and uncleanliness which restrain the soul from reaching its highest level of attainment, and all the chapters preceding this last one are replete with
important matters that enable the soul to come closer to its Creator and thus awaken a person to service to Hashem.

However, he points out, this last chapter of Avot is completely focused on the attainment of Torah, and, as such, Kinyan HaTorah is the appropriate chapter for us to study before Shavuot.

(To be continued)

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Q & A: Avot Between Pesach And Shavuot”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reviews details of a "bad deal" with Iran.
Netanyahu Warns of Increased Iran Aggression in Middle East
Latest Judaism Stories
Hertzberg-041715

Lincoln was not a perfect man. But he rose above his imperfections to do what he thought was right not matter the obstacles.

Arch of Titus

Adon Olam: An Erev Shabbat Musical Interlude Courtesy of David Herman

Daf-Yomi-logo

Oh My, It’s Copper!
‘…And One Who Is A Coppersmith’
(Kethubboth 77a)

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

The omer sacrifice of loose barley flour was more fitting for animal consumption than human consumption and symbolizes the depths to which the Jewish slaves had sunk.

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

When Chazal call not eating treif food a chok, that refers to how it functions.

His mother called “Yoni, Yoni!” Her eyes, a moment earlier dark with pain, shone with joy and hope

Kashrut reminds us that in the end, God is the arbiter of right and wrong.

In a cab with Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach & Rav Elayshiv discussing if/when to say tefillas haderech

The successful student listens more than speaks out; wants his ideas critiqued, not just appreciated

Why would it not be sufficient to simply state lehoros from which we derive that in such a state one may not issue any psak?

What do we learn about overcoming loss from the argument between Moses and Aaron’s remaining 2 sons?

Each of the unique roles attributed to Moshe share the common theme that they require of and grant higher sanctity to the individual filling the role.

Because of the way the piece of my finger had been severed, the doctors at the hospital were not able to reattach it. They told me I’d have to see a specialist.

“The problem is that the sum total is listed is $17,000. However, when you add the sums mentioned, it is clear that the total of $17,000 is an error. Thus, Mr. Broyer owes me $18,000, not $17,000.”

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass
Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Question: What if someone forgot to count sefirah Thursday evening but only realized after he finished davening Friday evening? The catch is that he accepted Shabbos early so that it is still light outside. Can he still count for Thursday evening and then count for Friday night with a berachah once it gets dark?

Pesach Bernstein
(Via E-Mail)

Question: What if a person counted the Omer but forgot to utter the blessing beforehand? Has he fulfilled his obligation? Incidentally, why do we recite a blessing for this counting but not for the “zayin nekiyim – seven clean days”?

M. Goldman
Miami Beach, FL

Question: Must one spend great sums of money and invest much effort in making one’s home kosher for Passover? Not all of us have such unlimited funds.

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-avot-between-pesach-and-shavuot/2004/06/16/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: