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.

How We Get There

A good friend shares one’s values, goals and sensitivities. A good friendship involves friends who can be trusted with personal information and care about helping one another.

Peace In The Family – Above All Else

The bottom line from these two instances and a host of different statements by our Sages throughout the Talmud is that shalom bayit is essential, and apparently one can lie or even erase the name of G-d to achieve this.

Psychological Paradigms

So, what is psychology? In its most basic form, psychology is the study of the mind (thought and emotion) and behavior. With this definition, we see that the discipline of psychology really does include almost anything human related under the sun, because what doesn’t incorporate an element of how we think, feel, or act?

How Straight Is Beautiful

There is a natural tension between our focus upon our own needs and goals and our caring for and assistance to others. Rebbi’s point is that we need to strike the right balance between these (often) competing values.

Who Is The Baal HaBayit?

Throughout the world, Jews are successful, prominent and influential way out of proportion to their numbers. Our existence is no longer that of our frightful past of pogroms, expulsions and holocaust.

A Culture Of Change

While the process of change is very personal and needs to be individualized, there are also commonalities and trends that traverse both time and person.

On The Straight And Narrow

Yashrut (straightness) is one of our central personal growth goals.

Start With Why

Unfortunately, it is too easy to just go through the motions, traversing life without knowing our purpose, cause, and what drives us to get out of bed every morning.

The Space Between Us

A person who truly values Torah will take full advantage of the opportunity to speak in Torah with anyone they meet.

Our Social Circles

Friendship is not just a responsibility we have towards others; it is important for our own healthy personal development as well.

Who Really Is To Blame?

Ultimately each and every one of us is responsible for our own actions. Excuses such as “my parents gave me permission” or “my child would never do that” do not absolve someone from responsibility.

Food For Thought

The Chasid Yavetz explains that sharing Torah at meals is uniquely important because it defines and expresses how we view our lives. Man, like animal, needs to eat in order to stay alive.

The Center Of The Circle

Focusing our Torah and Torah celebration on our children celebrates our passing of the Torah heritage on to future generations.

Zman Simchateinu – What We Celebrate

Though similar to the harvest celebrations of other cultures, ours differs in that it focuses on the Beit HaMikdash (Moreh Nevuchim 3:43). We celebrate lifnei (before) Hashem because we realize that He is the cause of our success.

Yom Kippur As Purification

The conclusion of the Yom Kippur pasuk – the word “tit’haru” – commands us to purify ourselves. The Kohen Gadol used this word at the height of the Yom Kippur atonement service to remind those in the Mikdash of their responsibility to purify themselves.

The Sound of Silence – Seeking Hashem’s Unspoken Will

The Torah tells us that it was Avraham who searched for (“Vayisa Avraham et einav”), found, and decided to sacrifice the ram. G-d had relieved him of his duties, but Avraham continued looking for opportunities to serve.

The Message Of Bikurim

Bikurim are brought only after Eretz Yisrael has been conquered and the children of Israel are permanently settled in their allotted portions of land.

Why We Should Love Work

The Torah emphasizes the importance of our work in its very first parshah, Bereishit. The world’s vegetation was ready to sprout, but did not because there was no man to work the ground.

Chumrot Are A Cause For Concern

Rabbi Isaac Bernstein of blessed memory, in his tapes on Chumash, states that chumrahs have had only a deleterious effect upon our people – generating only dissension and arguments, feelings of oneupsmanship and elitism, causing separation and fragmentation between one Jew and the next.

Being On The Team

Even when we pray on behalf of individuals, we pray for them as part of the broader community.

The Challenging Mission

The challenge of the shortness of life is compounded by the enormity of the task.

It’s Time To Move To Eretz Yisrael!

We excuse our lack of action because of our economic concerns and that such a move would compromise our ability to provide for our families appropriately.

The Danger of Overconfidence

One should never be complacent and feel that he has achieved enough. Every moment of our lives can and should be used for continued growth.

Being Aware of Awareness

Rebbi encourages reflecting upon Hashem’s presence and omniscience. “Look at three things and you will not come to sin: know what is above you, a seeing eye, and a listening ear, and all of your actions are recorded” (Avot 2:1).

More Action

The two not only emphasize the need for more action than wisdom; they also highlight the problem with having less action than wisdom.

Just Do It!

Torah coupled with good deeds is the ideal form of life.

Action Needed

Torah coupled with good deeds is the ideal form of life.

A Reciprocal Relationship

It was Hashem’s goal in creation and the ultimate goal of our personal development . . . G-d does not seek our fear; He seeks our appreciation.

Where Wisdom Begins

In the end of the third chapter of Pirkei Avot, Rebbi Elazar ben Azariah introduces us to four pairs of interdependent concepts.


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