Busy Mindset

We should be so engaged in meaningful and valuable pursuits that we don’t have time to sin.

Doing More Than We Say

Rashbag’s conclusion reminds us of the ancient saying quoted by the Gemara: If one word is worth a selah coin, (then) being quiet is worth two (Megillah 18a).

Promotion Or Prevention Focus

Many first violate smaller sins, and that serves as a gateway to more significant violations. To avoid the dangers of such minor infractions, contemplate deeply on what is above you.

Avot 1:18

If we are deficient in one of these strengths, we cannot sidestep our moral obligation to cultivate them and decide instead to focus on building our sense of humor (no matter how valuable a sense of humor may be psychologically or morally).

Why The Megillah Is Named After Esther

After Esther hesitates due to the danger involved, Mordechai responds with sharp rebuke. He emphasizes the personal responsibility she has to use her position on behalf of her people and explains that it is, in actuality, Esther, not the Jews, whose fate hangs in the balance.

Be The Man

Though Israel was his preferred Torah destination, Rav Aharon accepted the mission to travel to America. When he got there, he opened the Lakewood Yeshiva, which has played a central role in spreading Torah across America.

The Limits Of Speech

The assumption behind the theory was that current psychological problems can be alleviated when a patient talks about his or her past history, eventually gaining insight into the root causes of the issue.

Lessons In Pirkei Avot

While we have seen the concept of appointing a teacher before (Avot 1:6), many commentaries differentiate between the two presentations.

For Poorer, For Richer

Rebbi Yochanan is making a profound statement about poverty. It is not just a challenge to overcome. It should actually assist fulfillment; it is an opportunity to take advantage of.

Avot 1:15

To a large extent, Pirkei Avot and its commentaries serve as a type of educational psychology textbook. Many of the maxims encourage learning Torah and provide advice and guidance as to how to best accomplish this scholastic goal.

Radiating From Our Land: Being The Or La’goyim We Are Meant To Be

Many people cite Yeshayahu’s description of the Jewish people as an or la’goyim – a light unto the nations, as a clarion call for us to enlighten others. But what way of life makes this possible?

Personal And Social Responsibility

After focusing on personal responsibility, Hillel transitions to social responsibility: When I am for my own self, what am I?

Avot 1:13 – Mastery Orientation

When you work towards a learning goal, are you motivated for better grades, looking smarter, outperforming others?

What We Gain From Pain

Easy come, easy go. Only the Torah that we make sacrifices to learn remains with us years later.

Avot 1:12 – Love Peace

The use of Aharon as a model is illustrative. Pirkei Avot is filled with advice from many Talmudic sages, but most don’t invoke a Biblical precedent to prove their point.

The Pain, The Effort, And The Process

People are often disillusioned by their failures and the strength of their yetzer hara. Instead, we should appreciate how the challenges we overcome add to the value of our successes.

Avot 1:11 – Traits Of A Teacher

Students take what the sage says seriously. If he is not careful about how he says things, the students can misunderstand.

How To Be Free – True Freedom (Part II)

The Torah teaches us eternal heavenly truth, wisdom and direction. Its study gives us the ability to free ourselves from contemporary fleeting perspectives.

How To Be Free (Part One)

How does a person who accepts the yoke of Torah have other responsibilities removed from him?

Missing The Opportunity

It is only now that they are no longer alive that I value them more and realize the great personal loss of not having them around to talk to or confide in.

Avot 1:10 – Love Work

Shemaiah’s advice in Pirkei Avot bears out this wisdom as he encourages us to love work.

Avot 1:8 and 1:9

Empathy, care, kindness, which are all generally cherished interpersonal values, need to be curbed for the sake of justice.

Avot 1:7

The overall message of this mishna seems to be one of social caution. If we want to learn and maintain good behavior, we need to stay away from any people that can inhibit that growth.

Worse Than Extermination

Luring another to sin is worse than killing them because killing only removes the victim from this world, while sin removes one from the next world as well.

Avot 1:6 – Developing Friendships

Many commentaries differentiate between three different categories of people: wicked, intermediate, and righteous. These commentaries contend that the message to judge favorably just relates to the middle group.

Avot 1:5 – A Family Culture Of Kindness

Children can act in ways that are embarrassing, and guests can potentially generate uncomfortable conversations. The importance of keeping calm and kind, even in these moments, is essential.

What We Run To

Rabbeinu Yonah explains that, in addition to our own conditioning (goreret), when we perform a mitzvah, Hashem rewards us (gives sechar) by strengthening our efforts.

Avot 1:4 – The Importance Of Role Models

Besides for the ethical and prosocial benefits of helping, it also provides new scenarios to observe, interact, and learn.

The Cost And The Benefit

Though mitzvah observance can sometimes be cumbersome, we should compare the great reward we receive to the (relatively) small sacrifice we make by observing them.

Avot 1:3 – What’s Your Motivation?

Extrinsic motivators don’t necessarily lead to lasting change. When the incentives or punishments are removed, the behavior often stops.


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