web analytics
December 23, 2014 / 1 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Q & A: Pirkei Avot (Part III)

Questions-Answers-logo

Question: I have two 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 list of qualities that enable one to acquire Torah knowledge, including anavah, humility. I find this difficult to believe in light of the Gemara in Gittin that chastises one of the scholars for his anavah, saying that it ultimately caused the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash.

Zvi Kirschner
(Via E-Mail)

 

Summary of our response up to this point: The study of Pirkei Avot through the summer is specified in halacha (Rema, Orach Chayim 292:2). While we generally refrain from organizing study sessions on Shabbat between Minchah and Ma’ariv, we do recite Pirkei Avot at that time starting after Pesach until Rosh Hashanah.

Since there are six Sabbaths between Pesach and Shavuot and six chapters in Pirkei Avot, we devote an entire Sabbath to the study of each chapter. In the month of 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 and the fifth and sixth chapters together on the Sabbath before Rosh Hashanah.

This last chapter is referred to as Kinyan HaTorah, lit., “the method of acquiring Torah.” It is not part of the original Mishnayot compiled by R. Yehudah HaNasi, but is rather a compilation of Tannaitic Beraitot that was added to Pikei Avot at a later date.

In the preface to his sefer Matnot Chayim, HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, shlita, of Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, NJ, explains that Pirkei Avot is studied prior to Shavuot because we prepare for receiving the Torah at Mt. Sinai on Shavuot through the 48 methods of acquisition listed in the last chapter of Avot.

The Hasid Ya’vez states: “The Torah can only dwell in one whose being is devoid of negative traits, and who is full of important [and admirable] traits.” Rabbi Salomon adds that one must purify oneself from ritual impurities and uncleanliness that restrain the soul from reaching its highest level of attainment. Pirkei Avot are replete with important matters that enable the soul to come closer to its Creator and awaken a person to service to G-d. The last chapter focuses on the attainment of Torah, and, as such, is appropriate to study before Shavuot.

* * * * *

Let us now quote from Ethics from Sinai, the wonderful work of the legendary R. Yitzchak Meir (Irving M.) Bunim, zt”l:

“In the times of the Geonim, it became the custom in the academies of Babylonia to recite and study a chapter of Avoth on Saturday afternoons after the minchah service, as Rav Amram Gaon [ninth century] notes in his siddur about his academy. The Geonim knew of a tradition that Moses had passed to his eternal rest on a Sabbath afternoon at this time (Otzar HaGeonim, Shabbat 314-317, p. 103). [For this reason they included the three verses of tzidkath’cha tzedek: ‘Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness…’ as a prayer of justification and acceptance of his death.] And it became the practice to follow the minchah service with a chapter of Avoth to commemorate him, since it begins with his name: ‘Moses received the Torah, etc.’ Rav Paltoy Gaon [ninth century] gave another reason: ‘The Talmud (Moed Katan 22b) teaches that when a Sage passes away, all the Houses of Study and Worship in his city are to cease their activity.’ This suggests that in commemoration of Moses’ passing, it would be appropriate not to have intensive, concentrated Talmud study, but rather to learn and review the lighter subject matter of Avoth (Otzar HaGeonim, ibid.).

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: Pirkei Avot (Part III)”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
A third assault in France in which assailant yelled "Allahu Akbar" before attacking others.
Another French ‘Allahu Akbar’ Attack, Driver Slams into Crowd
Latest Judaism Stories

What does the way we count the days of Chanukah come to teach us about living in the present?

Knesset and Menorah

Israel projects global material illumination not always the light of “morality” meant by the Navi

Parsha-Perspective-Logo-NEW

To many of our brethren Chanukah has lost its meaning.

Parsha-Perspective-Logo-NEW

This ability to remain calm under pressure and continue to see the situation clearly is a hallmark of Yehuda’s leadership.

It would have been understandable for these great warriors to become dispirited.

The travail of Yosef was undoubtedly the greatest trauma of Yaakov’s life, which certainly knew its share of hardships.

Yosef, in interpreting the first set of dreams, performed in a manner that was clearly miraculous to all.

Chazal teach us that we need to be “sur may’rah v’asei tov,”avoid bad and do good.

When we celebrate the completion of learning a section of Torah, we recite the Hadran.

Fetal Immersion?
‘The Fetus Is A Limb Of Its Mother’
(Yevamos 78a)

Yosef proves he is a true leader; He is continually and fully engaged in the task of running Egypt

When the inability cannot be clearly attributed to either spouse, the halacha is the subject of debate among the Rishonim.

Those who reject our beliefs know in their souls Jewish power stems from our faith and our prayers.

He stepped outside, and, to his dismay, the menorah was missing. It had been stolen.

Though we Jews have deep obligations to all people our obligation to our fellow Jew is unique.

In a way that decision was the first in a series of miracles with which Hashem blessed us.

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass
QuestionsandAnswers-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: 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: 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: 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)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-pirkei-avot-part-iii/2014/05/08/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: