web analytics
September 1, 2015 / 17 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Q & A: Pirkei Avot (Part IV)

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 and read the last chapter, Kinyan HaTorah (lit., “the method of acquiring Torah”), on the Sabbath before Shavuot. This chapter 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 we prepare for receiving the Torah at Mt. Sinai on Shavuot through the 48 methods of acquisition listed in the last chapter of Avot. He adds that Pirkei Avot are replete with important matters that enable the soul to come closer to its Creator and awaken a person to service of G-d. The last chapter focuses on the attainment of Torah, and, as such, is appropriate to study before Shavuot.

In his work “Ethics from Sinai,” R. Yitzchak Meir (Irving M.) Bunim, zt”l, writes that Moshe passed away on Sabbath afternoon and we commemorate him by studying Avot at that time since it begins with his name: “Moshe received the Torah….”

R. Bunim notes that it is no coincidence that Avot was initially recited from Pesach to Shavuot. On Pesach we celebrate our redemption from slavery in Egypt en route to a destiny of G-dliness and Torah. However, we were not ready to receive the Torah until several weeks later, on Shavuot. Symbolically, we became “betrothed” to the Torah on Pesach and had our spiritual “wedding” on Shavuot. During the time of a betrothal, a bride and groom get to know one another in preparation for a lifetime together. Between Pesach and Shavuot, therefore, as we count the days of sefirah, waiting to receive the Torah at Sinai, it is beneficial to study Avot in order to gain an idea of the greatness of Torah that we are going to receive.

R. Bunim asks why we require the special mussar of Pirkei Avot when we already have the Shulchan Aruch, an elaborate legal code that delineates right and wrong in all practical circumstances. He answers that our goal is not simply to observe the law, but to transform the human spirit and character into something fine and G-dly. This is what Avot teaches us.

* * * * *

The Gemara you cite in posing your second question is clearly Gittin 56a, where the Gemara states, “Because of the anavah of R. Zechariah b. Avkulus [one of the Sages], the Temple was destroyed.”

The Gemara explains that an individual named Bar Kamtza was once accidentally invited by his enemy to a public feast instead of an individual named Kamtza who was a friend of the host. Upon seeing his enemy at his party, the host asked him to leave. No amount of entreaties could move him to change his mind.

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 IV)”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
IDF during a night operation. (file photo)
BREAKING: IDF Soldier Seriously Wounded in Shootout with Terrorists During Jenin Arrest Operation
Latest Judaism Stories
Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

The common translation of the opening words of this week’s parsha, Ki Seitzei, is: “When you go out to war against your enemy.” Actually the text reads “al oyvecha” upon your enemy. The Torah is saying that when Israel goes out to war, they will be over and above their enemy. The reason why Bnei […]

Rabbi Avi Weiss

The love between Gd & Israel is deeper than marriage; beyond the infinite love of parent for child

Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: When a stranger approaches a congregant in shul asking for tzedakah, should the congregant verify that the person’s need is genuine? Furthermore, what constitutes tzedakah? Is a donation to a synagogue, yeshiva, or hospital considered tzedakah?

Zvi Kirschner
(Via E-Mail)

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Since giving the machatzis hashekel will not change his financial situation, he is obligated to do so even though it is more than a fifth of his income.

Today, few people fast during the Days of Selichot, but the custom is to rise early to recite Selichot.

Each month is associated with a particular tribe. The month of Elul is matched up with Gad. What makes Gad unique?

Sanctions and indictment of the Jew, holding him to a higher standard, is as common and misplaced as ever.

To allow for free will, there are times when Hashem will allow a person the “opportunity to be the messenger.”

“There is a mitzvah to pay the worker on that day,” answered Mr. Lerner.

Be happy. Be grateful. God knows what he is doing. It is all happening for a reason.

We get so busy living our lives, handling our day-to-day little crises that we forget to go that one step deeper and appreciate our lives.

The promise for long life only comes from 2 commandments; What’s the connection between them?

Mighty Amalek deliberately attacked enemy’s weakest members, despicable even by ancient standards

If we parents fail to honor responsibilities then society’s children will pay the price for our sins

Consider how our Heavenly Father feels when He sees His children adopting all other parents but Him

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

Question: When a stranger approaches a congregant in shul asking for tzedakah, should the congregant verify that the person’s need is genuine? Furthermore, what constitutes tzedakah? Is a donation to a synagogue, yeshiva, or hospital considered tzedakah?

Zvi Kirschner
(Via E-Mail)

Question: When a stranger approaches a congregant in shul asking for tzedakah, should the congregant verify that the person’s need is genuine? Furthermore, what constitutes tzedakah? Is a donation to a synagogue, yeshiva, or hospital considered tzedakah?

Zvi Kirschner
(Via E-Mail)

Question: When a stranger approaches a congregant in shul asking for tzedakah, should the congregant verify that the person’s need is genuine? Furthermore, what constitutes tzedakah? Is a donation to a synagogue, yeshiva, or hospital considered tzedakah?

Zvi Kirschner
(Via E-Mail)

Question: When a stranger approaches a congregant in shul asking for tzedakah, should the congregant verify that the person’s need is genuine? Furthermore, what constitutes tzedakah? Is a donation to a synagogue, yeshiva, or hospital considered tzedakah?

Zvi Kirschner
(Via E-Mail)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-pirkei-avot-part-iv/2014/05/15/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: